inversion table
The potential benefits of using an inversion table include a significant reduction in lower back pain, as well as muscle spasms and sciatica.

According to anecdotal reports and certain studies, an inversion table is thought to carry the advantage of providing relief in problems that include:

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2019, mechanical traction leads to a significant reduction in lower back pain in people with herniated discs.

However, do not consider inversion tables as a magical fix for back pain. The research regarding its effectiveness is mixed. While some studies have found it useful to relieve back pain and other problems, whereas some studies have not found similar benefits.

Some people use inversion tables to gently stretch joints and muscles and relax.

What is the principle behind the working of the inversion table?

An inversion table is based on inversion therapy, which is also called spinal traction. The table is like a lounge where you have to tilt the table backward at an angle until your head lies at a lower level than your heart.

It is based on the principle that the upright position allows gravity to pull the organs, muscles, and joints downward. This causes compression in the spine and can give rise to back pain over time.

Being upside down with the help of an inversion table eases the pressure of gravity on the vertebral discs in your spine and creates a temporary space.

How to use an inversion table

Before you use an inversion table, talk to your doctor about whether using one is safe for you. They will teach you the correct technique of using it.

Here are a few safety tips to follow when using an inversion table:

  • Make yourself secure: Lie back and strap yourself safely onto it till you are secure in place.
  • Have someone around: Make sure you have someone to keep a watch on you for your safety as you tilt the inversion table and go upside down. They can assist you if you need help while coming to the upright position.
  • Begin slowly: Do not go upside down at once for the first time. Stay in the titled position just for a small duration of 30 seconds to 1 minute first. Then, increase the duration and limit your inversion table sessions to three to five minutes two times a day. Even a 60-degree angle will do. If you are an older adult, try to just tip back at a 30-degree angle or as little as 10 degrees.
  • Tip-up slowly: After you have been in the tipped down position for the required time, do not jerk up while tipping up. Come back to the original position slowly to avoid hurting your spine.
  • Experiment: You can try different angles and positions in the inversion table till you find the best position that works for you.

What are the risks of using an inversion table?

Using inversion tables is generally safe for most people. However, the peculiar posture associated with the inversion table increases the blood flow toward the neck and head and causes increased blood pressure in these areas.

This could be harmful to you if you suffer from certain conditions, including:

Using inversion may not be right for you if you have other problems, including:

Using an Inversion table should be avoided by pregnant women.

Given the risks, it is recommended to speak to a doctor to check if you are fit to use an inversion table.

If you decide to use the inversion table, do not substitute your medical treatments with it. You should use it as a complementary therapy after getting a nod from your treating doctor. Discontinuing the prescribed medications and other treatments can worsen your health condition for which you had decided to use the inversion table in the first place.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/2/2021
References
Image Source: Getty Images

Cleveland Clinic. Can Inversion Tables Really Relieve Back Pain? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-inversion-tables-really-relieve-back-pain/

Cheng YH, Hsu CY, Lin YN. The effect of mechanical traction on low back pain in patients with herniated intervertebral disks: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rehabil. 2020 Jan;34(1):13-22. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31456418/