15 Benefits of Inversion Table Therapy

Benefits of Inversion Therapy

innova-itx9250-inversion-tableIt’s 400BC, Hippocrates, also known as the father of medicine, uses ladders and ropes to hoist his patients upside down in an effort to use gravity to stretch them and cure their pains.

This is an extremely early example of inversion therapy.

Nowadays, we have gravity boots, tables and even yoga practices dedicated to inversion therapy.

Surely, a practice that has stood that kind of time-test must have some merit to it.

Well, it certainly does and this article aims to outline exactly why health-conscious individuals and experts, including the US military, are harnessing the power of inversion therapy.

What is Inversion Therapy?

Inversion therapy, simply put, involves putting the body in a position where the head is lower than the feet.

The idea of this is to reverse the negative effects that gravity and other load-bearing activities can have on the body.

Many people don’t even realize how much stress gravity puts on their body every day. Constantly being “pulled down” by it, causes compressive forces on all of the different systems inside the body.

Over time, these compressive forces can lead to problems like spinal disc degeneration, nerve pain, tight muscles and poor circulation, to name a few.

The only time when the compression is eased is when we sleep. Even then, being horizontal isn’t enough to fully reverse the negative effects gravity has on our bodies.

A much more useful way to decompress is to use inversion therapy to bring your head below your feet properly.

There are a few methods of inversion. Some yoga practices use it heavily, there are gravity boots that hang the body completely upside down and there are inversion tables.

Inversion tables are extremely effective and much more versatile. They allow more control over the inversion angle than any other method.

Meaning, individuals can tailor the position of the body to suit their needs and take advantage of the numerous benefits of inversion table therapy.

We actually reviewed the 5 best inversion tables so click here if you’re interested in buying one!

15 Benefits of Inversion Table Therapy

  1. Low back pain and sciatica relief

Inversion tables are widely used by patients suffering from back pain related ailments. They can work wonders for relieving pain caused by a number of different back injuries and issues.

By stretching out the muscles and ligaments that surround the spine, inversion therapy can help to reduce the tightness and muscle spasms that are common causes of lower back pain.

In an inverted position, gravity is used to open up the spaces in between the spinal vertebrae. Opening up the spaces decreases the compression on the discs in between the vertebrae.

Compressed spinal discs are a major cause of back and nerve pain, such as sciatica.

By decompressing these discs, the symptoms of back pains, like sciatica, can be managed much more easily. Regular inversion therapy could even prevent the need for surgery.[1]

  1. Keeps spinal discs healthy and hydrated

Between each of the vertebrae in the spine, there is a disc. These discs are there to separate the vertebrae to allow spinal flexibility.

The discs also act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae.

To provide sufficient flexibility and absorb shock effectively, these discs contain a a jelly-like substance at their core.

Load-bearing activities and gravity cause this substance to compress. Over time, this compression can cause some of the jelly-like fluid of the discs to be pushed out into the surrounding tissues.

The “leaking” of the fluid means that we have less cushioning in between your vertebrae. Less cushioning means increased injury risks.

In order to rehydrate and feed the discs and keep them healthy, we need to create some space in between our vertebrae to decompress our discs.

Using an inversion table is the perfect way to do this.

  1. Improve symptoms of osteoarthritis

Arthritis affects millions of people and can have a great impact on quality of life.

Arthritis is caused when the cartilage between joints is worn down over time. The cartilage is there to provide some cushioning between the bones.

When this cushioning is worn down, bone on bone scraping is the result. This can be very painful and severely limits the range of motion around an affected joint.

Inversion tables have been shown to improve the symptoms of degenerative diseases, just like osteoarthritis. [2]

Spending a bit of time on an inversion table each day could lead to a better quality of life for patients.

  1. Maintain our height

As discussed earlier, the forces of gravity and load-bearing activities, like exercise, compress the discs between our spinal vertebrae.

As the day goes by, these discs are compressed more and more.

The more the discs are compressed, the less space there is between the vertebrae of our spine. Less space between the vertebrae effectively reduces the length of our spine.

Reducing the length of the spine makes us physically shorter. This can be seen if we measure our height in the morning, after some decompression has taken place overnight, and compare it to an evening measurement.

Around half an inch, sometimes more is usually lost throughout the day.

Using an inversion table, we can prevent this from happening and maintain our full height.

It may even help to keep us taller as we age.

  1. Improved blood circulation

By being in an inverted position, the heart does not need to work quite as hard to pump blood around the body.

Of course, being completely upside-down means blood flow to the legs could be restricted after a period of time.

However, using an inversion table at the correct angle can improve blood circulation throughout the entire body.

Good blood circulation has a number of positive benefits.

More efficient waste product removal, better muscle recovery and improved brain function can all be gained from improving blood circulation.

Gravity can also cause a blood “pooling” effect in some muscles and organs. Pooled blood needs to be circulated so that the waste products can be flushed out of it. Inversion can help promote this process.

  1. Better lymphatic circulation

Our blood isn’t the only important fluid that needs to be well circulated around the body.

The lymphatic system is responsible for clearing away toxins from our muscles and organs.

It is vital that lymphatic fluids are circulated properly in order for this to happen.

An example of poor lymphatic circulation is pooling around the lower extremities. When an individual has swollen feet or ankles at the end of the day, it can indicate that lymphatic fluid has pooled in those areas. [3]

Just like circulating the blood, being inverted can help to reverse the pooling before it gets too bad and encourage better lymphatic fluid circulation throughout the body.

  1. Reduced headaches

Headaches, outside of dehydration, are usually caused by tight or spasming muscles around the head and neck.

Inversion therapy can help reverse these causes and reduce headache symptoms in a number of different ways.

Firstly, as we just spoke above, improved circulation is a huge benefit of using an inversion table.

Improving circulation to the head and brain could definitely reduce the number of headaches we are likely to suffer from.

Another headache-reducing benefit is the relaxation effect it has on the muscles. Tense muscles around the face, neck and upper back is a common cause of headaches. Relaxing these muscles will improve headaches drastically.

As a follow on from relaxing the muscles around the head, realigning our spine can help with this further.

Inversion therapy can aid in spinal realignment and the further reduction of tight or spasming muscles. In turn, this will decrease or eliminate headache pain.

  1. Easier Breathing

The increased blood flow around our nasal passages, as a result of being inverted, should also help to flush the nasal passages out.
Flushing the nasal passages fills them with oxygen-rich blood.

Increasing the amount of oxygen-rich around the area means that our nasal passages can work more efficiently.

If they are operating efficiently, breathing will be easier and more oxygen can be supplied to the body.

This all has a knock-on effect. Better breathing leads to more oxygen around our body. More oxygen around the body means that our muscles will function better, including the muscles of the respiratory system.

Better functioning respiratory muscles lead to even easier breathing.

  1. Stronger immune system

Just like the aforementioned improved breathing cycle, other benefits of inversion therapy have a knock-on effect for our immune system as well.

In particular, improved lymphatic circulation should lead to a better functioning immune system.

The lymphatic system is vital for flushing out and removing toxins from the body.

Toxins that aren’t removed from the body can cause problems. These problems will put extra stress on the immune system, as it fights them, and make it overall weaker.

If the lymphatic system is better able to flush out toxins, our immune system will then be at full capacity to fight off illness.

As we know from earlier, lymphatic circulation can indeed be improved via inversion table therapy. Hence, helping to strengthen the immune system as well.

  1. Greater flexibility

A flexible spine is key if we are to maintain a full range of motion throughout the other joints in our bodies. Everything is in some way connected to the spine.

Years of compressive forces push the spine down into a very inflexible position.

In order to keep the spine flexible, the discs need to remain healthy in between our vertebrae. [4]

They can be kept healthy by remaining hydrated through regular decompression on an inversion table.

  1. Tight muscle and muscle spasm relief

Tight muscles and spasming muscles are often caused by misalignment of surrounding joints. Therefore, the realignment of the spine that is offered by inversion therapy, can help to ease the tight muscles surrounding it

Overworked muscles are also prone to spasm and tightness.

Using inversion to flush the muscles with oxygen-rich blood and lymphatic fluid could help to supply them with the nutrients they need to return to a more relaxed state.

  1. Faster workout recovery

Recovery from workouts and sporting activities can be promoted by inversion therapy. The method of improving recovery is very similar to the point we just discussed on relieving muscle spasms.

Extra blood supply to the muscles will help supply them with oxygen and nutrient-rich blood.

The extra blood supply promotes faster removal of the waste products that build up in our muscles after we exercise.

The quicker we can flush out these waste products and supply the muscles with recovery-enhancing nutrients, the less time it will take for them to recover.

  1. Stronger ligaments

Ligaments are the connective tissue that connects our bones together. They are made of fibrous collagen strips that have to be very strong in order to keep our bones in place.

Weak ligaments can be easily torn if they are suddenly strained or stretched too far.

Using an inversion table, we can strengthen our ligaments to reduce this risk of tearing and straining.

The inverted position places a reversed load on the ligaments around the spine by pulling on them instead of compressing them.

The reversed loading strengthens the fibrous structure of the ligaments and should lead to less joint injuries.

  1. Reduced stress and better sleep

Again, this amazing benefit comes as a result of a couple of the other benefits that have already been covered.

Firstly, increasing blood flow around the body helps to regulate our hormones in order to relieve the feeling of stress.

This happens as a result of flushing the glands that secrete these hormones with nutrient-rich blood. Better blood supply helps the glands to function optimally.

Reducing muscle tension is another way of reducing our overall stress levels. Inversion therapy has been shown to have very fast tension reducing effects on the muscles.

Muscle tension can be decreased by up to 35 percent within the first ten seconds of therapy[5].

As a secondary benefit to the reduced levels of stress, sleep quality will be improved.

Lower stress levels are known to be a factor in the better quality of sleep.

The nice thing is, better sleep will then lead to an even further reduction in stress levels. A real win-win situation.

  1. Better posture

Poor posture is usually a result of a couple of things. One is a heavily compressed spine, which can lead to poor vertebrae flexibility and a tight, hunched looking back.

The other common cause is tight muscles on the front of the body and comparatively weak ones in the back.

For example, constant slouching causes tight muscles in the front of the shoulders and chest. On top of that, weak upper back muscles won’t be able to bring your upper body into a good position.

The combination of the above would lead to a hunched over posture that is very common among office workers and drivers.

The postural problems caused by spinal compression and tight muscles can be treated with inversion table therapy.

A strengthening protocol will also need to be in place to strengthen other muscles that promote good posture.

Final thoughts and recommendations

It’s clear to see that inversion therapy has a vast range of different benefits. It has also stood the test of time while many health practices have not.

Such a simple procedure with this many possible advantages is surely worth trying.

However, it needs to be said, there are some populations that inversion therapy is not suggested for.

Individuals with heart disease, high blood pressure, eye diseases like glaucoma and pregnant women are advised against using the therapy.

As with any health or fitness intervention, proper medical advice should be sought before beginning the therapy.

When the go-ahead is given to start inversion therapy, it is recommended that an inversion table is used instead of gravity boots.

Using an inversion table gives you complete control over the angle of inversion. It would be wise to start off at a lower, comfortable angle so the body can get used to it and adjust.

Starting off with just minutes each day should be enough to uncover some of the extraordinary benefits covered in this article.

Sources:

[1] http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nctu/documents/backswing/poster.pdf

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14199033 – Sheffield, F.: Adaptation of Tilt Table for Lumbar Traction. Arch Phys Med Rehabilitation; 45: 469-472, 1964.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymphedema

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC165040/ – Degeneration of the intervertebral disc

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/687049

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