Is It Good to Use an Inversion Table? Uses & Risks

Medically Reviewed on 2/9/2022
Is It Good to Use an Inversion Table
Although there are many purported benefits of using an inversion table, it is not a good solution for those looking for long-term back pain relief

Although there are many purported benefits of using an inversion table, especially in relieving back pain, it is not a good solution for those looking for long-term relief.

Evidence on the benefits of inversion therapy is mixed, and much of the medical research is anecdotal or outdated.

Why do people use inversion tables?

The theory behind inversion therapy, also called spinal traction, is that being upside down eases pressure on your spinal discs and nerves and increases blood circulation to certain muscles. People use inversion tables to treat:

  • Back pain: May help alleviate radicular lower back pain caused by nerve compression and inflammation. By briefly extending the muscles and ligaments around the spine, hanging upside down may help reduce back discomfort caused by compression.
  • Sciatica: Sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve that results in pain and numbness in the lower back and often down one leg. Pressure from a herniated disc on the sciatic nerve is the most common cause.
  • Disc degeneration: Intervertebral discs are protective tissue structures in the spine that act as shock absorbers. Damage to these dics can put pressure on spinal nerves and cause stiffness. Some studies have suggested that inversion tables combined with physical therapy may lessen the likelihood of surgery for people with degenerative disc disease.
  • Muscle tension: Because inversion therapy relieves pressure on the nerves that control muscles in the back and lower body, studies have reported that it may help reduce muscle tension.
  • Mobility and flexibility: Spinal traction promotes flexibility in the lower extremities. According to research published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, inversion therapy may help improve trunk and spinal mobility.
  • Posture: Sitting at a desk or performing repetitive tasks can be harmful to your spine. Using an inversion table may help stretch out your spine and thus help promote good posture.
  • Clearing the lymph system: Because the lymph system moves only in one direction, waste can accumulate and build up over time. Spending a few minutes upside down may help adjust lymphatic flow.
  • Improving blood circulation: Hanging upside down may help blood flow more easily to the upper section of your body.
  • Kidney stones: Inversion therapy may help relieve discomfort caused by kidney stones. When used with diuresis, it may also aid in the removal of stones. 

What are the risks of using inversion tables?

Inversion tables can have dangerous side effects, especially if you have circulation issues, high blood pressure, or ocular diseases such as glaucoma. People with a history of these problems should exercise caution and seek medical advice before beginning inversion therapy.

Side effects may include:

  • Headache: After using an inversion table, some people experience persistent headaches due to increased blood flow to the head.
  • Increased blood pressure: Inversion therapy has been linked to significant increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, although studies have conflicting results. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before trying inversion tables.
  • Vision problems: Inversion therapy may cause some people to develop hazy vision. In rare cases, it may cause retinal detachment in people with eye conditions such as myopia, glaucoma, or history of eye surgery.

How do you use an inversion table?

If you are using an inversion table for the first time:

  • Seek the advice of a professional to avoid injury.
  • Make sure that the table is secure, stable, and on a flat surface.
  • Wear clothing that will not get caught in any of the equipment.
  • Ensure that your head and neck are adequately supported.
  • Set the angle of the table, starting with the smallest angle possible.
  • Secure yourself to the table in an upright position and slowly rotate your head until it is below your heart.
  • You may want to pause in the horizontal posture for a minute to allow your blood flow to calm down before allowing your feet to rise above the head height.
  • Check that your feet are securely fastened using built-in ankle supports.
  • Extend your arms above your head to fully lengthen your spine.
  • Take deep breaths and rest in the inverted position for a few minutes at a time.


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Medically Reviewed on 2/9/2022
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