Today I would like to share with you my experience with inversion therapy.
In short, inversion therapy allows you to decompress and stretch your body by reversing the effects of gravity, especially on your spine.
The equipment I use is called an inverting table. It’s a robust table that allows you to go from a horizontal position to full inversion. In between, there are different positions that produce different degrees of decompressions along your muscles, spine and vertebra.
- 1 Why I tried Inversion Therapy?
- 2 My first impressions
- 3 My Benefits of Inversion Therapy
- 4 Who should not try Inversion Therapy?
- 5 How it works
- 6 How to start?
- 7 My Routines for Treating my Back Pain
- 8 What is an Inversion Table?
- 9 Best Inversion Tables
- 10 Inversion Table Exercises
- 11 Questions and Answers
- 12 2) How much space do I need to use inversion table?
- 12.1 3) Is inversion table therapy suitable for everybody?
- 12.2 4) Why is warranty such an important feature?
- 12.3 5) How easy is it to set up an inversion table?
- 12.4 6) What are the benefits of inversion table therapy?
- 12.5 7) How long do you stay on an inversion table?
- 12.6 8) Do inversion tables help with lower back pain?
- 12.7 9) What does an inversion table do for you?
- 12.8 10) What is the best inversion table on the market?
- 12.9 11) How often should you use an inversion table?
- 12.10 12) Is inversion therapy dangerous?
- 12.11 13) What does inversion therapy do?
- 12.12 14) Do you have to hang fully upside down for inversion therapy to work?
- 12.13 15) What does science say about inversion therapy?
- 12.14 16) Do I have to use an inversion table to decompress my spine?
Why I tried Inversion Therapy?
I’ve been suffering from lower back pain for the last three years, and some neck pain too. The pain varied from one day to the next and could be a mild ache or really sharp and intense.
I’ve been doing stretches and workouts to help the muscles relax and get stronger. This helped me a lot, and I’ll share those with you later.
One day, my friend Paul told me about how an inversion table might help me with my back pain. I had some doubts, but a natural way to treat my back pain was definitely worth trying. He owned an inversion table and, because he was happy to let me use it, I decided to give it a go.
My first impressions
My first five sessions were at my friend Paul’s house. He owns a Innova ITX9600 inversion Table (I review this model here) and he introduced to the first exercises.
At first it was strange being inverted, but afterward I felt such a release in my lower back muscles. My muscles got a full stretch, and the pressure on my lower back was massively reduced, allowing the muscles to relax. And, best of all, the pain was almost totally gone.
He suggested a few additional exercises which I tried slowly and gently. I went back to his house another five times. Finally, I decided to get a table for myself.
I didn’t buy the same model as Paul but, instead, got another brand and model.
One year ago I sold my original inversion table and bought a new one. I explain the differences, and why these three models are my favorites, in my article The Best Inversion Tables, click here to read it.
Having my own inversion table at home allowed me to experiment with different exercises. With patience and time, I’ve found the exercises that best relieved my back and neck pain.
I put together the exercises and created specific routines for back, neck and sciatica pain. I’ll cover these routines later this article. You can click here to scroll directly to that section.
My Benefits of Inversion Therapy
For the last six months, I’ve been doing three inversion sessions per week and each session is around 15 minutes long.
I get a complete body stretch, and I try to unplug my brain from tasks, problems, and any other thoughts. I keep my focus on releasing all the tension and stiffness accumulated in my muscles.
After the first month of three regular sessions per week, I felt much better. I had less pain, and my mood improved.
In my experience, it’s been a very effective way to treat my back pain.
If you have never tried inversion therapy, I recommend that you continue reading to understand what the benefits are, what you can expect, and how inversion therapy helps to release tension and stiffness, helping to heal back, neck, shoulder, and sciatica nerve pain.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and I’m not here pretending to be one. I’m here to share my personal experience and tell you how inversion table therapy has helped to relieve my back and neck pain.
In my personal experience, inversion therapy has reduced my back pain and, combined with stretching and core exercises has worked as a healthy and natural treatment for my back pain
Who should not try Inversion Therapy?
Inversion table therapy works for me, and for many other people, but we are all different. I recommend you talk to your physician before starting inversion therapy.
Situations where Inversion Therapy is not recommended include:
- You are pregnant
- You have high blood pressure
- Any heart-related diseases
- Retinal detachment
How it works
Long hours in the same working position, stress, and not enough sleep, can lead to muscle tension and contractions in the neck, shoulder, and back, causing back, neck and shoulder pain.
Emotions like frustration, anxiety, anger, and sadness produce tension and stiffness in our muscles, which are a defense response in our bodies.
Tense and contracted muscles can put pressure on nerves, leading to something called a “pinched nerve,” causing sciatica, radial, and lumbar nerve pain.
Inversion table therapy provides your back with a good stretch, allowing the muscles to relax and loosen.
When your body is inverted, the effect of gravity on your back, neck, and spine is also inverted. Your spine gets decompressed, and that allows your body to release accumulated tension, reducing pain.
Relax Muscles – An upright fully inverted position gives your body a full, decompressing, stretch. The stretching allows your tense back muscles to relax. As your back relaxes, your level of pain is reduced and relieved.
Spinal Decompression – When you hang upside down on an inversion table, you slowly start to stretch and decompress your spine. This is also known as spinal traction. Spinal traction relieves the constant pressure on your spine, and takes the pressure off compressed discs.
Reduce Nerve Pressure: Inverting to a 60-degree or greater angle provides a complete back stretch, decompressing the tense muscles that normally support your spine. Relaxing the tight and tense muscles around the nerves, this reduces the pressure and increases the chances of healing a pinched nerve.
Naturally Realign the Spine: Hanging upside down provides your back with the kind of stretch it needs. Gravity pulls your spine in the opposite direction, reducing the pressure on each intervertebral disc. This allows the discs to rehydrate and to naturally realigns your spine.
Increases Blood Flow: Decreasing painful muscle spasms and cramps
Stress and emotions play also an important role in muscle stiffness. Reduce stress, ease your emotions, and try to create more constructive and positive thinking.
How to start?
The first time I tried inversion therapy was at my friend Paul’s house. He has the Innova ITX9600. He helped me with some simple tips, and supervised my first few exercises to be sure I was doing everything properly.
The first time you try inversion therapy, I recommend that you to have somebody with you, preferably who has some experience, to make sure you don’t do anything wrong.
If you’re looking for a high-quality inversion table, I recommend that you check my article The Best Inversion Tables. In this article, I go through three different models and explain the differences between them, and how you can find the best one for your needs and budget. Click here.
After assembly, the setup is the most important part of successful inversion therapy. Adjusting the height, the ankle locking system, adjusting responsiveness, and how to fold the table. I’ve covered all this, in very simple steps, in my article How to set up your inversion table.
After, I recommend you start with a simple routine so your body can get used to different levels of inversion. Click here for my beginner’s inversion table exercise routine.
My Routines for Treating my Back Pain
I’ve been doing inversion exercises for the last six months and, combined with simple stretching exercises, it’s been a very effective and natural way to heal my back and neck pain.
I usually do my inversion table routine three times per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). You can find it here.
Sometimes, I change it for a neck routine, also available here.
Early, first thing in the morning, I do a 5-minute Stretching Routine for Back Pain Relief. A video and details of each exercise are available here.
Right before dinner (Tuesday and Thursday), I do a 5-minute core exercise workout. Video and details for this routine is available here.
What is an Inversion Table?
It’s a table that allows a person to invert in different angles: 30, 45, 60 and 80 degrees, or full inversion. Inversion tables are used for Inverting therapy, to provide a complete spine decompression.
When you’re hanging upside down, securely and comfortably, from your ankles, your spine is stretched and decompressed. This is also known as Spine Decompression.
This stretch creates a space between the discs and the vertebrae in the spine. Among other benefits, it re-hydrates the discs to reduce the pain caused by pinched nerves that can happen because of sciatica pain, for example.
In the past, inversion tables were very expensive and only available in clinics or hospitals. Today, you can buy your own inversion table and do frequent sessions at home to help you reduce pain by relaxing and releasing the tension accumulated in your muscles.
I’ve shared my three favorite inversion tables, along with the one I use. The reasons and my opinion are all explained here.
Best Inversion Tables
There are different tables available on the market, and I’ve picked my three favorites and written about my experience using these models. I talk about the inversion table I currently use, and the models I have owned and used in the past.
Find which model is the best for your needs and budget. Click here to discover the best inversion tables.
Inversion Table Exercises
Using all the exercises I’ve learned, I’ve created five exercise routines for specific muscles and areas to help reduce back, neck and sciatica nerve pain.
I’ve also created a routine for beginners to get used to the inversion table, feeling the first stretch and benefits of inversion therapy in a simple session.
Hopefully, these routines will help motivate you to regularly use an inversion table to stretch tight muscles and release the tension and stiffness that causes back and neck pain.
All the exercises have three levels of intensity: Light, Moderate and High. If it’s your first time, start with the light level.
Routines are an easy way to:
Memorize exercises, so you don’t have to keep looking at a website, book, or a sheet of paper.
Save time, automate the exercises and do it in a sequence and straight way.
Progress, repeating the same exercises helps to produce progression, giving you confidence and results.
Exercises for Beginners
Exercises for Back Pain Relief
These exercises provide a complete back stretch that reduces muscle tension and stiffness. Traction and decompression reduces the pressure on the spinal discs, relieving the pain caused by any bulges.
Due to my line of work, I spent long hours sat at a desk working on my computer and I developed lower back pain. Busy and stressful days quickly reflected on my lower back, causing intense pain.
Besides a stretching routine (that I do early in the morning) I also use inversion table therapy for instant back pain relief and prevention.
I’ve selected and created an inversion table exercise routine, specific to the back muscles. This way, I don’t have to keep learning new exercises. I just lay on my inversion table, knowing exactly what I’m going to do. In just a few minutes, my session is over, my pain is relieved, and I can continue with my day.
I usually do sessions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I do two sessions per day, one before lunchtime and another one before dinner. If I have to work at the weekend, I do an extra session to prevent any pain.
This way, my lower back pain has almost disappeared. I say “almost” because those 14 hours days of work are very hard on my back. That’s why I have been starting to work standing up, but I will leave subject that for another article, hopefully, to publish soon.
I’ve created a routine of five exercises to help stretch and decompress the muscles of the back.
All the exercises have three levels of intensity: Light, Moderate and High. If it’s your first time, start with the light level.
Exercises for Neck Pain Relief
Stretching your back, shoulders, and the muscles of your neck will help to relax you. Get in a comfortable position, relax your mind and emotions, and focus on the tension. Quiet your mind, letting the tension melt away.
Inverting changes the effect of gravity on your body. Combined with stretching, it allows your body to eliminate all the stiffness, and unlock your muscles.
I’ve selected five specific exercises to stretch the upper back muscles, shoulders, and neck.
If it’s your first time, go light and slow. I have provided all the instructions, images or videos, along with relaxing tips to help you get the most from these exercises.
Exercises for Sciatica Nerve Pain Relief
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, and runs from your lower back, down your leg, and all the way to your feet. If the pressure is placed on this nerve, it causes pain to radiate through your back and down one or both your legs. This pain can range from a mild throbbing, to excruciatingly sharp, and may or may not be accompanied by muscle weakness.
The cause of sciatica nerve pain is usually associated with problems with the lower back, most probably due to a bulging disc in your lower spine. If a disc bulges outward, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, triggering pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the lower back, buttocks, and rear of the upper leg.
Stretching exercises are an effective way to relax muscles, and allow your back to align naturally while easing tight and stiff muscles.
Inversion table therapy helps by providing an ideal back stretch. Relaxing the muscles, it creates more space between the discs in your low spine. This relieves the pain caused by the sciatic nerve being pinched.
I’ve selected some very specific exercises to help you stretch your lower back muscles and to decompress your spine.
The duration of each exercise is from one to five minutes, depending on the time you have available, and your experience with inversion table therapy.
Do this routine twice a week. After, a month, increase to three times per week.
Once you start doing the routine three times per week, repeat the exercises one more time later in the day.
Questions and Answers
1) How to avoid getting dizzy?
Some beginners to inversion table users report feeling dizzy – either during their inversion session or immediately after. In most cases, this can be avoided by moving slowly from horizontal to inverted, gradually increasing the angle of inversion over a few sessions, and then slowly returning from inversion to horizontal.
Other things to avoid include eating too soon before your inversion session, and drinking a glass of water 10-15 minutes before you start. This should stop dizziness, but, if it persists, please speak to your doctor.
2) How much space do I need to use inversion table?
One of the things I love about inversion tables is that they don’t take up most space. All you need is about 2-3 yards of clear space around your table so it won’t touch anything and your head and feet are away from any objects. I set my inversion table up in my lounge, but you could equally well put one in your bedroom, spare room, garage, or anywhere you have a little bit of free space. You could even use it outdoors on warm days.
Some models are collapsible and foldable, so you can put them away between sessions. This is a good feature if you have limited space, and can’t or don’t want to leave your table up when it’s not in use. I discuss foldability and portability in my article Best inversion tables.
3) Is inversion table therapy suitable for everybody?
While inversion therapy is safe and effective for most people, it’s not suitable for everyone. If you have very severe back pain, are pregnant, have very high blood pressure, suffer from cardiovascular or heart disease, or have glaucoma or other eye diseases, inversion therapy may not be for you.
If you are in any doubt, make sure you speak to your doctor before you start inversion therapy. You should also start with a very mild level of inversion, around 30 degrees, to introduce inversion gradually, and avoid giving your body too much of a shock too soon.
4) Why is warranty such an important feature?
A long warranty provides consumers with peace of mind and helps give confidence in whatever you are buying. A company that only offers a three-month warranty is basically saying that they don’t expect their product to last very long. In contrast, a warranty of five years means they expect their product to still be working long into the future.
In my article, Best Inversion Tables, I included long warranties as one of the important features to look for. To me, a long warranty means you are buying a good quality product, and while it might cost a little more, you know you are covered in case it breaks during that time.
5) How easy is it to set up an inversion table?
Inversion table set up varies from model to model, and manufacturer to manufacturer. Some are very easy to set up, taking as little as 15 minutes, while others often take longer – maybe an hour or more. I’m talking about the first time you ever use your inversion table after unpacking it.
Once you have put your table together, some are foldable and take just a few seconds to collapse and put away. Others cannot be folded, and you’d have to take it apart to put it away between uses.
You don’t need any kind of engineering degree to assemble an inversion table, but some are definitely fiddlier then others, and the instructions vary a lot. Clear instructions or a demonstration video are always beneficial. I have discussed ease of assembly in my article Best Inversion Tables
6) What are the benefits of inversion table therapy?
Inversion therapy offers so many benefits, it’s not practical to list them all here so please check out my article Inversion Therapy to learn more. But, in summary, inversion table therapy will:
- Decompress your spine
- Stretch and relax your muscles
- Rehydrate your intervertebral discs
- Realign your spine
- Relieve back pain
- Increase circulation
- Increase lymphatic drainage
- Reduce stress
7) How long do you stay on an inversion table?
When it comes to inversion therapy, longer sessions are not necessarily better. In fact, most experts suggest that short but frequent sessions, and not long, irregular sessions, are best. The first time you use your inversion table, just a few minutes is all you need. As you get used to being inverted, you’ll probably feel like increasing that to up to 5-7 minutes.
On average, the programs I use for back pain and sciatica relief last about 15-20 minutes, but half of that is spent either horizontal or only slightly inverted.
Find my routine of inversion table exercises for beginners here.
8) Do inversion tables help with lower back pain?
Lower back pain can be horrible! I should know, because of spending a long time sat at my computer working, I had back pain for many years. It was this chronic back pain that made me first try and learn more about inversion therapy, and inversion tables. The very first time I tried inversion, it instantly reduced my lower back pain.
More and more people are discovering that inversion is a safe and natural way to reduce back pain. It decreases the pressure on your intervertebral discs, decompresses your spine, and relaxes tight muscles – all of which can cause back pain.
So yes, to answer your question, inversion tables can help you with your back pain, as they have for mine. In fact, I have almost no back pain at all after becoming a regular user of inversion tables.
My routine for back pain relief available here.
9) What does an inversion table do for you?
Being inverted reverses the effect of gravity on your body, and especially on your spine. This has a number of important effects on your body. If you use an inversion table regularly, you will experience:
- Relaxed, more flexible muscles
- Spinal decompression
- Less pressure on intervertebral discs
- A longer, more relaxed spine
- Rehydrated intervertebral discs
- Less back pain
- General relaxation, less stress, and better sleep
- Improved circulation
- Increased lymphatic drainage
- Better general health
10) What is the best inversion table on the market?
There are lots of different inversion therapy tables on the market, and making the right choice can be hard. Some are expensive and loaded with lots of features, while others are more basic and considerably cheaper. I’ve tried a few different models and, using that experience as well as researching reviews from around the internet, have written a table buying guide called Best Inversion Tables.
In this guide, I discuss essential features that a good inversion table must have, what to look for when comparing models, and which tables I recommend. If you want to know which table is right for you, my buying guide will help you decide.
11) How often should you use an inversion table?
While you could use an inversion table every day, I suggest you use it every other day, or three times a week e.g. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This means you not only exercise frequently, you also give your spine and muscles a day of rest between sessions to recover and heal.
Inversion table therapy is not strenuous, but still, has a big impact on your body, and doing it every day could be too much, leaving you tired and sore.
Experiment to find the ideal frequency for you. If your back is tight, try doing it a little more often, but if you feel okay, fewer sessions may work too. The one thing we all agree on is that short, frequent sessions are better than long, infrequent sessions for controlling back pain.
12) Is inversion therapy dangerous?
Inversion therapy is considered to be safe for most people. That being said, if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, suffer from glaucoma or any other eye diseases, or have serious back, knee, neck, or hip problems, it might not be for you. If in doubt, make sure you check with your doctor before trying inversion therapy.
Assuming you are okay to try inversion therapy, make sure you make your sessions as safe as possible by:
- Make sure your inversion table is properly assembled
- Ensure there is enough space around your inversion table
- Adjust the height and the ankle supports before using
- Increasing the angle of inversion gradually over several sessions
- Having someone nearby as you get used to using your table
- Do not invert for more than 5-10 minutes at a time
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using your table
- Stop if you feel dizzy, sick, or unwell
13) What does inversion therapy do?
Inversion therapy inverts your body, hanging you upside down by your ankles, to reverse the effect of gravity on your body. This unloads your spine, decompresses your intervertebral discs, stretches and relaxes your muscles, and realigns your spine. After long hours of sitting, this can help alleviate lower back pain, as well as increasing circulation and lymphatic drainage.
14) Do you have to hang fully upside down for inversion therapy to work?
Hanging completely upside down can be a bit disconcerting. After all, it’s a very unnatural thing to do! Some users of inversion tables are worried about full inversion, and that makes them tense up. Being tense means inversion is not as effective as it should be.
Luckily, there is no real need to completely invert yourself, unless you really want to. Studies show that an inversion of 60 degrees is enough to decompress the spine and intervertebral discs, and most people find that comfortable, and not in the least scary.
I always recommend new users increase the angle of inversion gradually, taking time to get used to the different angles. This means starting at around 20-30 degrees and increasing gradually from there. Find what angle feels comfortable, and don’t feel you need to go beyond that point. Even mild inversion will do you good.
So, to answer your question, no – you don’t have to hang fully upside down for inversion to work. It’s more important to be comfortable than fully inverted.
Find all my exericises and routines here.
15) What does science say about inversion therapy?
When I first heard about inversion therapy, I was very skeptical. How could hanging upside down help relieve my back pain?! However, after I tried it for myself and found that it really DID work, I did some reading and research, discovering that inversion therapy has been researched and studied a fair bit.
In my article, What studies say about inversion therapy, I reveal five of the studies I read that confirm the benefits of inversion therapy. For example, in one study, of 175 back pain sufferers who had to take time off work, after inversion therapy, 155 of them were able to return to their jobs.
It’s good to know that science and anecdotal evidence both support the use of inversion tables for back pain.
16) Do I have to use an inversion table to decompress my spine?
The short answer is no, you don’t, but it’s definitely the easiest and safest way to do it. You could hang from an overhead bar, but you’d only be able to hang for a minute or so before your hands weakened and you had to let go. You would also be limited to hanging vertically, and wouldn’t be able to do many of the exercises that can help relieve back pain.
Also, you could use anti-gravity boots, which have hooks on them that allow you to hang upside down from a beam or bar. This is not an easy thing to do as you’ll need to be able to lift your feet up to the bar, and you can’t graduate your angle of inversion – it’s upside down or nothing. It’s also really easy to get stuck!
For these reasons, inversion tables are the safest, easiest, and most convenient way to invert your body and decompress your spine. Ideal for home use, inversion tables can help relieve back pain. Find the best inversion table for your needs and budget in my article Best inversion tables.