If you are someone that sits all day at work, you may be wondering if inversion tables are a good way to counter the negative effects. Some people swear by them, others say they are a waste of money. Here, we will look at whether or not inversion tables are effective, and if they actually work for back pain.
Now first off, it is important to point out that I have a personal bias because I use inversion therapy to relieve back pain. Second, I’m not a doctor. So after reading this, it may be a good idea to speak with a doctor about trying inversion therapy if you have any health concerns (primarily glaucoma, a detached retina, or blood pressure issues).
Anyways, how about we get to it?
Are Inversion Tables Effective?
Like I said, it depends on who you ask. Some people swear by it while others ridicule it. So let’s look at a couple different studies:
- A study from 2012 showed after 4 weeks of using inversion therapy 3x a week that patients using inversion therapy were 70.5% less likely to require surgery. The study was with 24 participants. 13 patients used physiotherapy+inversion therapy while the control group of 11 people only used physiotherapy. Surgery was avoided in 10 of the 13 patients using inversion therapy while the control group only had 2 out of 11 avoid surgery.
- A study from 2013 showed that after 8 weeks of inversion therapy at 60 degrees/4 times a week, that back pain was significantly improved. The study was done using 47 different women. Of the 47 women, 15 of them used inversion laying flat on their backs (not completely sure how that worked lol), 18 used inversion therapy at 30 degrees, and 14 used inversion therapy at 60 degrees. The 60-degree group showed the greatest improvements.
There are other studies that show the same general trend: an improvement over a short period of time. It is important to point out that there is little long-term evidence that inversion therapy is effective, and this is where the backlash comes from.
I am currently unaware of any long-term studies that show inversion therapy to be ineffective, though. So, if we see results over a period of weeks or months it only makes sense that it would also have long-term benefits.
My Anecdotal Experience with Inversion Therapy
I personally have used inversion therapy for about 2 years now. I usually do it about 2 or 3 times a week. What I’ve experienced is that it has helped my lower back pain.
I don’t necessarily think it is a cure-all or the greatest thing ever for your back, I just think it is another piece of the puzzle that can help out with back and neck pain.
It definitely has provided relief, and I think it works even better if you do some massage therapy first (you can just use some lacrosse balls).
How To Do Inversion Therapy
In addition to using an inversion table, another good way is by using gravity boots. Gravity boots actually allow you to invert a full 90 degrees whereas a lot of tables only go to about 70 degrees.
I actually prefer them more, but at the same time, they are a little more intense than an inversion table. You have to be able to do a pull up to use gravity boots as you will have to pull legs up to the bar you are hanging on.
So they are going to be a better option but should only be used if you are strong enough to pull yourself up, otherwise, you could injure yourself. Inversion tables will work for just about anybody though.
Once you’ve gained some experience with using an inversion table, you can hold weights for additional decompression. You will definitely want to start low and work your way up if you do this, however.
You don’t have to add any crazy amount of weight, just an additional 10 pounds can help quite a bit!
Best Inversion Tables/Gravity Boots
As for an inversion table, you don’t have to get anything too crazy. All you are doing is hanging upside down. I originally went with the cheapest version though, and think it makes sense to go a step up from that.
You don’t have to get the most expensive item or anything and spend hundreds, but I think it makes sense to spend a little more than the cheapest one available.
This one provides better ankle straps, height adjustment, holds up to 350 pounds, and can go to a full 90-degree tilt.
As for gravity boots, I personally use the Teeter Hang Ups which I find to be great. You can get these for less than $100 with a conversion bar with them.
Reasons To Not Use Inversion Therapy
As I mentioned above, you may want to speak to a doctor prior to doing inversion therapy. But some of the main reasons you definitely would want to and may need to avoid using inversion therapy would be the following reasons: high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, spinal injuries, fractures, herniated discs, osteoporosis, glaucoma, ear infections, cerebral sclerosis, pink eye, being pregnant, being drunk or high, using blood clotting medications, being obese.
Of course, just using some common sense is always a good thing. It isn’t too complicated, you hang upside down. I’m sure you have a pretty good idea whether or not it will be an issue for you.
So, are inversion tables effective? Do they work for back pain? My answer is yes. I personally love using them as it provides some relief from sitting all day long.
It just makes sense that if you are hunched over sitting all day long that you want to do the exact opposite of that to be able to get relief, and inversion therapy is just that. It can help decompress your spine and give you a high-quality stretch.
Are you getting one? Do you already use inversion therapy? Let me know in the comments below!