“I’ve suffered from several back injuries over the years from jiujitsu and working out. One of the things that has helped me a lot is using one of those Teeter Inversion Tables…I strap my ankles into this thing and I hang upside down – it’s a great way to decompress your back and get rid of pain.”
Apparently the father of medicine – Hippocrates was using inversions to treat a range of disorders, back in ancient times.
How do Inversion Tables Work?
Inversion tables effectively work by reversing the effects of gravity on the spine – decompressing, rather than compressing the spine and the rest of the body.
It’s feasible but not proven, that an inversion table and inversion table therapy may relieve back pain and help posture – by preventing that hunch over posture of an elderly person.
It may also aid recovery from intense training, by improving venous return and lymphatic drainage.
Inversion tables may work by ‘muscle traction’ rather than spinal decompression.
Hanging upside down is more likely to relieve pain by stretching spinal muscles and connection tissue – rather than having much of an impact upon ‘disc-space’
How Do you Use an Inversion Table? (at your own risk)
For sciatica and other back problems, start off with the table on a slight incline, 15 to 30 degrees for 1 to 2 minutes.
Build up daily until you are comfortable with 10 minutes at 60 degrees.
Be aware that inversion will increase blood pressure and have other effects on the cardio vascular system which may not be desirable for those at risk of stroke or heart attack.
Some of the better quality inversion tables will contain a harness which will allow you to release your arms from the handles on the table – this will allow you to stretch your neck and hold your arms above your head to stretch your arms too.
Summary of Inversion Tables
Inversion tables might be a worth adding to your prehab-routine, if you are an MMA fighter or a BJJ player – due to the constant pressure on the spine.
- Much anecdotal evidence for their effectiveness
- Some scientific evidence to support their use – study here
- Improves circulation & recovery from exercise
- May relieve back pain for many
- Not suitable for all due to issues with blood pressure
See also my article on the DIY massage gun