Inversion Table Exercises for Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief

The most common cause of sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, is a bulging disc in the lower vertebral column. If a disc bulges outward, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, triggering pain anywhere along the length of the nerve, but most commonly in the lower back, buttocks, and rear of the upper leg. You can learn more about Sciatica Pain here.

Inversion table therapy helps to decompress your spine and reduce the pressure on the spinal discs, helping the discs to re-hydrate and reducing the pressure on the sciatic nerve. This provides instant relief to sciatic nerve pain.

5 Exercises for Sciatica Nerve Pain Relief

1. Decompression (Light to High)

This is a very good exercise to decompress the spine and re-hydrate the discs. By inverting to 45 and 60 degrees, you release the pressure on your intervertebral discs, thus reducing the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

If this is your first time doing this exercise, start with the Light intensity level. Do one session per day for the first week.

On the second week, if you feel comfortable, increase to the Moderate intensity level and, if possible, do two sessions per day.

As you get more comfortable, try the High-intensity level. Once you’ve tried the different levels, use the position that you feel most comfortable with, and the duration you find most appropriate. Try to do frequent, short sessions rather than longer, infrequent sessions.

These levels are only a guide. Listen to your body, and don’t rush to increase the angle. This is not a race! Enjoy the experience of inversion, and feel the benefits.

Light (30-45 degrees):  Start at 30 degrees for one to three minutes. When you are comfortable, go to 45 degrees, and stay there for one to three minutes.

Moderate (45-60 degrees): Start at 45 degrees, and stay there for three to five minutes. When comfortable, go to 60 degrees for three to five minutes.

High (60-90 degrees): Start at 60 degrees, for five and up to ten minutes.

Start Position: 30, 45, 60 or 90 degrees, depending on the intensity level you’ve picked.

Place both hands around your head or hold the top of the table bed. Feel the complete stretch in your back and torso. Breathe deeply and relax your muscles for a more effective lower back stretch.

Relax and Enjoy: For your first attempt, do it for one minute and then stop. If you feel good, do it for another minute.

Breathe slowly and deeply.

Find a way to quiet your mind. Avoid any extraneous thoughts, and focus on the changes in your spine while you do the exercise. What do you feel? Can you feel your back decompressing? Focus on those changes and avoid thinking about things like job problems, relationship issues, or any other worries. An agitated mind leads to muscle tension.

Find your way to relax your mind. Once your mind is calm, your body will follow. Your muscles will relax, and the tension will slowly melt away. Focus on feeling better, and don’t let other thoughts get in the way.

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Once finished, slowly return to the horizontal position. If you have another opportunity during your day, do another session.

2. Rotation (Light to High)

inversion table therapy rotation advanced exercise zoom inAfter a complete decompression for your spine, I suggest you do a torso rotation. This will help you stretch your upper back muscles, releasing any tension from your muscles.

Beginners should start at Light Intensity for one minute per session, and increase only if they feel comfortable and relaxed.

Light (30-45 degrees):  Start at 30 degrees for one to three minutes. When you are comfortable, go to 45 degrees, and stay there for one to three minutes.

Moderate (45-60 degrees): Start at 45 degrees, and stay there for three to five minutes. When comfortable, go to 60 degrees for three to five minutes.

High (60-90 degrees): Start at 60 degrees, for five and up to ten minutes.

Start Position: 30, 45, 60 or 90 degrees, depending on the intensity level you’ve picked.

Place your left arm across your torso, and hold on to the table. Rotate your torso and hips to the same side. Keep the center of your body centered to the bed table. Place the other arm around your head.

Pull with your left arm to stretch and elongate the torso muscles.

Relax and Enjoy: Start with one minute. As you get more comfortable by repeating this exercise, increase the intensity level. You can continue for up to five minutes.

Once finished, do the same for the other side.

Relaxing tips: Breathe slowly and deeply. Try listening to and breathing in time with some relaxing music, slowly in and then slowly out. Focus on the stretch you feel in your torso and back. The idea is to clear your mind of any worries and troubling thoughts. Relax your mind so your muscles can also relax too.

Your body always follows your mind. If you feel stressed, anxious, or angry, your muscles will contract, tense up, and harden. It’s a sort of defense mechanism. Let go of your emotions, and tension will float away.

3. Side Arches (Light to High)

Side-Arches-inversion table exercisesThis exercise is perfect for stretching the external oblique abdominal muscles, which are the one that are on your sides of your waist. It also stretches your shoulder. The shoulders often get very tense and blocked, and this exercise will help reduce that tension.

Start with the Light intensity level, and increase only when you feel comfortable.

Light (30-45 degrees):  Start at 30 degrees for one to three minutes. When you are comfortable, go to 45 degrees, and stay there for one to three minutes.

Moderate (45-60 degrees): Start at 45 degrees, and stay there for three to five minutes. When comfortable, go to 60 degrees for three to five minutes.

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High (60-90 degrees): Start at 60 degrees, for five and up to ten minutes.

Start Position: 30, 45, 60 or 90 degrees, depending on the intensity level you’ve picked.

Place your arms overhead, and curve your upper body into a “C” shape. Starting at the waist, bring your hip and shoulder toward each other.

Feel all the stretch in the side of your abs muscles, along with a shoulder stretch as you raise your arm. Feel your body relaxing and the tension leaving your muscles. This exercise will provide you with a great stretching sensation for your entire upper body.

The side abs muscles are connected to your lumbar spine, so this exercise also stretches your lower back muscles.

Once you have finished, repeat to the other side.

4. Overhead Stretch (Light – Moderate)

Overhead Stretch inversion table exercisesLet’s focus on your back again. I suggest a complete stretch, using your arm to extend to your shoulder, producing a deep but comfortable back stretch.

This is a very easy exercise, but very helpful for relieving pain.

Focus on relaxing your mind as well as your muscles by calming your emotions.

I have found that listening to relaxing music helps to quiet my mind and slow my breathing. I concentrate on the music and how my body feels, and tension just melts away. Pick music that calms you and makes you feel peaceful and happy.

For your first time, go Light. Start with 30 degrees for one to three minutes.

When you feel comfortable, get a deeper stretch by increasing the difficulty and changing the angle to 45 degrees for three to five minutes.

Raise your left arm, reach straight overhead, and relax.

Stretch for one to three minutes on one side, and then change arms.

Breathe normally and, feeling comfortable on the table, enjoy the sensation of the stretch and your muscles relaxing.

When you feel comfortable at 45 degrees, move to the 60-degree angle position, Moderate level.

Stretch for three and up to seven minutes on each arm, and then change sides.

For High level, go for full inversion at 90 degrees. Stay there for up to seven minutes each side.

Once you find the position in which you are comfortable, stay there and relax.

For every exercise, I always emphasize the importance of relaxing your mind. In my experience, and from what I’ve read, this is most effective way to release tension and relieve pain.

Relaxation tips: Focus on the muscles being stretched. Try to feel every muscle that is being stretched in the exercise. Notice how your muscles feel both before and after the exercise.

Allow your muscles to relax and stretch, and don’t block them by thinking about what you need to do later in the day. Allow the muscles to be free, unblocked and relaxed in this moment. Focus on your muscles and nothing else.

Try to develop a peaceful, relaxed mindset so your body will relax and be restful too.

Once you have finished, change arms.

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5. Full Inversion

Note: To do this exercise you should have previously tried the other exercises to make sure you are 100% comfortable with inversion therapy, and confident using the equipment.

full inversion - inversion table exercisesI only recommend this exercise after a few weeks of using an inversion table. You can try it before this but, if you do, please go slow, and listen your body.

This exercise completely stretches your body, and reverses the effect of gravity on your spine. Your intervertebral discs will love it!

Remove the safety strap. Slowly rotate into a fully inverted position. Listen your body, breathe deeply and slowly. Feel your muscles relaxing as your spine decompresses.

You will feel your blood going towards your head. At first, this will feel strange, but you’ll soon get used to it. You might even discover you enjoy this sensation. I think it feels great!

Once you are fully inverted, relax, and stay there for as long as you feel comfortable.

Beginners:  If this is the first time you are doing a full inversion, increase the angle very slowly. Initially start at 45 to 60 degrees, and then progress from there. If, at any time, you feel dizzy, slowly return to the horizontal position. Don’t worry, this is totally normal.

Always Remember: It’s always more effective to do more frequent but short sessions than to do only one, longer session.

How to properly set up your inversion table

Pick a space for your inversion table. Adjust the height and adjust the ankle locking system. These are simple but important steps to take before starting any inversion exercises, so you get the greatest benefits from inversion table therapy and avoid accidents. Find out how to do a perfect setup here.

How often should I do these exercises?

Two sessions per day would be awesome. I do mine three days per week, and two sessions on each of those days.

If I have time, or I’ve had an especially hard week and my back is tighter or more sore than usual, I’ll also try and do extra sessions at the weekend.

How long should each session be?

If are just starting out, do one minute of each exercise. Slowly increase the time you spend doing each exercise to three, five, seven, and even ten minutes. Progress gradually, making sure you stay comfortable and relaxed throughout.

Remember: Shorter, more frequent sessions are always better than long but irregular sessions.

Should I expect immediate pain relief?

This depends on a lot of factors including how tight your muscles are, and what type of back problem you have. I experienced noticeable relief from my lower back pain after just a few sessions. If you have more serious back pain, it may take longer.

Give it a try to see how it goes for you and your body.

More Inversion Table Exercises and Routines

Specific routines for sciatica and neck pain. Also a routine for beginners. All organized here.

Inversion table exercises and routines post

Find the exercises here

Specific exercises to help you stretch your low back and leg muscles.

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Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m so happy that you’re here! I've shared my story here

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