Inversion is defined as ‘the action of inverting something or the state of being inverted’. The word invert simply means to ‘put upside down or in the opposite direction’.
When you use inversion therapy, you are upside down on an inversion table at an angle that is most suitable for you to obtain the optimal benefits of the therapy.
How does inversion therapy work?
Gravity is a natural force that compresses the spine (and joints) over time. It’s one of the effects of gravity. Inversion therapy isn’t magic, but is science. The idea behind in this kind of therapy relates to counteracting these effects of gravity. Inversion therapy is known to reduce muscle tension and it lengthens the spine. Essentially, it provides the appropriate traction force needed to decompress the discs of the spine.
Who can benefit from inversion therapy?
While it can help with general spinal compression, it’s most often used to treat specific spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis, disc herniations, and spinal degeneration. Because people with these back problems also experience chronic pain, it helps reduce that pain, often to bearable levels. Just remember that the relief and benefits of inversion therapy are short-term, meaning you will use it virtually every day or a few times a week to maintain the benefits.
Who shouldn’t use inversion therapy?
Just like any medical treatment (conventional or alternative), inversion therapy isn’t for everyone. People with preexisting conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure), inner ear problems, retinal detachment, heart problems, osteoporosis, fracture, hernia, and other medical conditions that can be worsened by the treatment. Pregnant women should also avoid inversion therapy.
How do you use inversion therapy?
The most common and simple form of inversion therapy is the inversion table. Inversion tables are the most popular way to use this kind of treatment for spinal decompression. If you’re a risk-taker, you can opt for anti-gravity boots and hang totally upside down with your ankles strapped into the boot, but that aggressive technique isn’t for everyone.
100 percent inversion isn’t necessary to experience the benefits of this treatment. Inversion tables are also easier to use at home and fold up for storage when not in use. However, you may still require a second person to help ‘spot’ you and help with the process of inversion therapy. Inversion chairs are another alternative to tables for people who require less pressure on their joints. Inversion chairs provide up to 70 percent inversion.
The Benefits of Inversion Therapy
Now that you have a better understanding of inversion therapy, how it works, who can or can’t use it, and the primary devices used for this spinal decompression treatment, it’s time to learn how it can benefit you.
- Pain Relief – Causes of acute and/or chronic back pain may include weak stomach and/or back muscles, poor posture, spinal misalignment, and the force of compression caused by gravity. Inversion therapy is used like traction to relieve pressure on the discs and elongate the spine, which reduces the pressure on nerve roots, discs, and ligaments. All that relates to lessening back and neck pain. Sometimes those tense muscles create painful muscle spasms, which are also temporarily relieved by inversion therapy.
- Posture Correction – Poor posture is a major issue involved in back pain. Poor posture is also unattractive and unhealthy to the body. Good posture helps the body maintain balance and stay aligned. Inversion therapy helps to realign your spine so you can enjoy the health benefits of good posture.
- Feeds the Discs – Inversion helps to feed and care for your spinal discs. Discs have three primary purposes: 1) Separate the vertebrae, 2) Provide flexibility, and 3) Are the spine’s shock absorbers. Nerves pass through the vertebrae, which communicate with your brain, making it imperative to maintain disc separation that keeps communication flowing. Discs have an inner core with a jelly-like substance that provides cushioning between the discs. Weight-bearing activities like standing, sitting, or exercising cause some fluid to be pushed out of the discs (envision how water is squeezed from a sponge). When you lose that moisture, it results in a loss of height. Measure yourself in the morning and at night. Be the end of the day, you will have lost between ½ inch and ¾ inch in height. Inversion therapy opens up the space between the discs, allowing your spine to rejuvenate more efficiently than sleep.
- Flexibility and Functional Fitness – Better flexibility is a benefit of inversion therapy. Flexibility, alongside your cardiovascular health/strength create functional fitness. Inversion tables or chairs can help you achieve this level of fitness and flexibility. Inverting helps circulation, which gives you a mild and easy cardiovascular workout without the work. Added to a regular exercise plan and/or cardiovascular program, inversion therapy adds to your overall functional fitness.
- Core Muscle Training – Your core muscles include the abdominals, external and internal obliques, and the lower back muscles. These core muscles support your torso and help you maintain good posture, efficiency in movement, and helps with the transfer of power throughout the body. Therefore, weak core muscles create vulnerability to spinal misalignments, which also lead to injuries. Strong core muscles support the spine and proper alignment, which helps you prevent injuries. Inversion therapy is a good way to strengthen your core without worrying about causing injury from the core muscle workouts that must be done accurately to be effective and beneficial. When you’re inverted, crunches, back extensions, and sit-ups can be done properly, reducing the risk of injury.
- Graceful Aging – People are always seeking ways to prevent or reverse the signs of aging. While you still grow older, you can prevent issues that spinal decompression causes like losing height as you age. Thinning discs are a common issue of aging. Babies spinal discs are comprised of 90 percent water. By the time the average person reaches 70, their disc fluid is decreased to 70 percent. A healthy inversion treatment plan can help you maintain more of your height. Since varicose veins are a problem as you age, inverting will reduce the blood pooling in your lower extremities and help to keep your blood circulation active.
- Decongests Internal Organs – Inversion therapy also helps to decongest your internal organs that often cause weight gain in the stomach and abdominal areas. Organ prolapse happens as you age, but inverting is known to help reverse that prolapse and put internal organs back in their place and return them to their normal shape.
- Increases Oxygen to the Brain – Inverting is good for boosting the oxygen transport to the brain. A decrease in oxygen to the brain causes problems like brain deterioration, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, and even some cognitive issues. Boosting your brain’s oxygen supply will prevent these health problems.
- Boosts Workout Recovery – High-impact and/or intensity workouts inevitably cause spinal compression. Running, biking, aerobics, weightlifting, golf, and other such exercise takes its toll on the spine, back muscles, and discs. Inversion therapy helps to correct any misalignments and compression caused from high-impact workouts. You may even choose to do a little stretching while inverted to achieve more relief and benefits after workouts. Partial sit-ups, side-to-side bends/stretches, and back arches are good activities for the right inversion table. Any exercise or activity that causes tension in your muscles can be benefited by inversion therapy because it relaxes the spine and releases tension.
- Balance and Orientation – Inversion training helps your body to develop better balance and orientation awareness. Gymnasts, scuba divers, skydivers, and springboard divers use inversion therapy to balance their inner ear and their body. There are activities where your ear canal becomes imbalanced, causing tinnitus or motion sickness. Inversion therapy can help normalize the ear canal.
- Pain Reduction for Overworked Muscles – Athletes are often overworking their muscles, but construction workers, and anyone in an active job also overwork their muscles. Pain, soreness, and stiffness are the side effects of overworked muscles. Overworked muscles contain a buildup of lactic acid that needs to be released to reduce these side effects. Inverting boosts the natural process of lymph flow, which helps reduce lactic acid buildup in the muscles. Once you clear your lymphatic system, your aches and pains from overworked muscles will disappear.
- Ligament Strengthening – Your bones have fibrous strips that keep them together, called ligaments. Your ligaments are flexible, but they are elastic, which is why they sometimes get torn away from the bone when they are stretched too far. This causes pain and often leads to injuries. Inverting your body reverses the problem of over-stretching ligaments, strengthening them as well as the connective tissues. When ligaments are not moved regularly, they become stiff and can be more easily torn.
- Stress Relief – Often, headaches, body aches, back aches, and neck aches are signs that your body is stressed out. Muscle tension is a major indicator of body stress. Inversion therapy gives your body a break from that stress and tension, and provides you with a good form of relaxation. Muscle tension and stress begin to reduce by about 35 percent within the first 10 seconds of inverting. If you’re healthy enough to use inversion as treatment, it’s an excellent way to relax and de-stress after a long, hard day of work.
- Boosts Circulation – Your heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries make up your cardiovascular system, which is how your body transports and uses oxygen in its cells. The return process of the circulatory system works against gravity, which is eased by inversion. Therefore, inversion provides your body with an easier process of circulation, improving blood flow and oxygen transport.
- Depression Relief – One of the lesser known and surprising side effects of inversion therapy is the balancing of mood and lessening of depression. Stress and anxiety are usually accompanied by depression, which is bad for your overall health and wellness. The overall benefits as mentioned here act to improve your mood by producing endorphins as well as reducing pain and stress. This all results in reducing problems with depression and makes you feel good overall. Many people who use inversion treatments say they experience an improved outlook on life.
- Improve Traumatic Brain Injury – Another surprising benefit of inversion therapy is that it helps reduce the issues caused by traumatic brain injury. It’s not recommended to use this without medical supervision. The increased blood circulation and oxygen transfer to the brain is believed to be how inverting helps to reduce the pain, relieve pressure, and improve brain function after traumatic brain injury.
Gravity is the strongest force that will affect your body over your lifetime. Inversion helps combat the effects of gravity and how it affects your spine and overall health and wellbeing. The benefits are both physical and mental.
While there is usually an explanation for why inverting works to help the body, sometimes there is no explanation; only results. This kind of treatment helps to improve circulation, decompress the discs of the spine, and boosts oxygen transport through the body. All three of these aspects are known to help improve your quality of life.
Inversion therapy comes with many benefits when it is used properly by those who can benefit from it. Inversion therapy provides an efficient system of light exercise and stretching that reduces the effects of gravity on the spine and the body as a whole. For most people, this is perfectly safe and no more strenuous or harmful than regular fitness activities when used sensibly.
Thousands of people have safely used inversion therapy to get relief from neck and back pain. As a bonus, they also enjoyed the rejuvenating effects that improve the functions throughout the entire body.
Remember to consult with your physician before starting any new treatment plan like inversion therapy. Due to health conditions and restrictions, you don’t want to cause more damage to your body or risk worsening your current health. When inversion therapy is used as directed either by a physician or as instructed for the average healthy person, it can result in amazing and surprising benefits.