Do inversion tables work? The answer to that question comes from the fact that the effect of gravity on the human body is reversed when hanging inverted. Tension on the spine is relieved and vertebrae are separated, easing pressure on the discs.

This means that if a disc has slipped (herniated), instant relief from pain is possible through using a inverter table. Use of inversion therapy works by releasing the "pinch" of the nerve as it returns to its normal position. While inverted, displaced vertebrae (the cause of back pain), are realigned and muscle spasms are reduced. That means that use of an inversion table such as the Invertrac® Inversion Table may help in relieving many chronic back problems.

The INVERTRAC® Inversion Traction Unit has many benefits...

  • Counters the degenerative effects of gravity.
  • Allows for the benefits of spinal decompression without trauma to ankle, knee, or hip joints.
  • Allows for inversion in the bent knee position by flattening out the lumbar curve, maximizing traction to this area.
  • Helps eliminate stress and tension by stretching spine and back muscles.
  • Enhances circulation.
  • Is easy to use, as the user gently settles into the inverted position, providing back pain relief.

Inversion Can Help to Provide Back Pain Relief

- This is article from Teeter’s website.

There are many causes of back pain, including poor posture, weak back and stomach muscles and muscles spasms. Many of these causes can actually be attributed to one force we must all battle: gravity.

So how can Inversion help you to relieve your back pain? Do inversion tables work? Quite simply, inversion therapy puts gravity to work for you by placing your body in line with the downward force of gravity. Inversion therapy, through the use of a back inversion table, elongates the spine, increasing the space between the vertebrae, which relieves the pressure on discs, ligaments and nerve roots. Less pressure means back pain relief.

Every nerve root leaves the spine through an opening between the vertebrae. The size of this opening is largely controlled by the height of the intra-vertebral disc. Discs that are plump and contained in their ligament "wrappers" are necessary to keep the nerve roots free of pressure and your body free from pain.

Stress and tension can cause muscle spasms in the back, neck and shoulders, as well as headaches and other problems. Tense muscles produce spasms and pain by reducing the supply of oxygen and by reducing blood and lymph flow, allowing the accumulation of waste chemicals in the muscles.

Inverting yourself for a few minutes a day, accomplished easily with an inversion table, also known as a decompression table, can help relax tense muscles and speed up the flow of lymphatic fluids which flush out the body's wastes and carry them to the blood stream. The faster this waste is cleared and fresh supplies of oxygen are introduced, the faster stiffness and pain in the muscles can disappear. A study conducted by physiotherapist L.J. Nosse found that, "EMG (electromyographic) activity, an indicator of muscle pain, declined over 35% within ten seconds of assuming the inverted position. That means that inversion tables work very effectively.

Inversion can also help to encourage good posture. When inverted, your body is in line with gravity. Your spine will naturally go to its proper form, which is a gentle "s" curve. A regular program of inversion therapy can help you to maintain proper posture and keep your body in balance.

Inversion Therapy Helps Provide Care and Feeding for the Discs

Your discs have three jobs: to separate the vertebrae, provide flexibility to the spine and to act as shock absorbers. Disc separation is especially important since all communication between the brain and the body occurs through nerves that pass between each vertebra. Insufficient distance between the vertebrae can result in nerve root pressure and pain.

The inner core of each disc is made of jelly-like material that provides the flexibility and "cushioning" in your back. When you are sitting, standing, or exercising, referred to as “weight-bearing activities”, fluid is squeezed out of your discs and into adjacent soft tissue (just as you would squeeze moisture out of a sponge). As a result, your discs lose some of their moisture and height. To prove this fact, measure yourself in the morning and then again at night. You will lose 1/2" to 3/4" in height by the end of the day. This lost fluid translates into your discs losing some of their cushioning effect. When your discs are compressed and thinned, your vertebrae potentially place more pressure on these nerve roots. More pressure equals more pain.

When you are sleeping, which is a "non-weight bearing activity", your discs (or "intravertebral sponges") expand as they soak up fluid and nutrients and increase the length of your spine by as much as 3/4". But you don't gain the full height back, accumulating to a total of 1/2" to 2" in height throughout your lifetime.

Using an inversion table is another "non-weight bearing activity" that will provide benefits and back pain relief. As you relax, your spine begins to stretch. The space between each vertebra will increase, thus decreasing the pressure on the discs between each vertebra. This encourages fluid movement back into the disc, helping to keep your discs plump and happy and decreasing the pain in your back.

Inversion Therapy Helps to Relieve Stress

Your body will let you know when you are stressed out through back and neck pain, headaches and muscle tension. They are your body's way of protesting against stress and they force you to slow down.

If nothing else, Inversion therapy is a great way to take a break and relax. The full body stretch can be rejuvenating and can also help to reduce muscle tension. A study conducted by physiotherapist LJ Nose found that EMG activity (a measure of muscle tension) declined over 35% within ten seconds of inverting. Inversion, therefore, is helpful in relieving tension and pain in your muscles that may have been caused by stress.

In fact, for centuries, yoga practitioners have recognized the concept of turning the body upside down to find relaxation. The head stand position is a form of "postural exchange" (reversing the direction of gravity) and is a form of inversion therapy. Not everyone wants to do headstands, so the use of an inverter table creates an easier alternative with the added benefit of joint decompression.

Inversion Helps Improve Circulation and Accelerates the Cleansing of Blood and Lymph Fluids

The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, veins, arteries, and capillaries. It is your body's transportation system, carrying food and oxygen to your body's cells. Your heart pumps blood through the system: oxygen-rich blood from the lungs goes out through the arteries and waste-filled blood comes back through the veins to be cleansed and recharged with oxygen. The cardiovascular system also retrieves blood from your legs and lower torso, carrying it upwards against the force of gravity. Inversion therapy and the use of products such as bent-knee inversion tables allow your body to work with gravity to ease the circulation process.

Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system has no pump. Only the alternate contraction and relaxation of muscles moves lymphatic fluid "uphill" through capillaries and one-way valves to the upper chest for cleansing. Inverting the body so that gravity works with, not against, these one-way valves helps to push the lactic fluid up to the chest. The faster the lymphatic system is cleared the faster the ache and pain of stiff muscles disappears.

Inversion Helps Increase Oxygen Flow to the Brain

Your heart must work against gravity to pump blood up to your brain, which is the body's largest consumer of oxygen. Although it is only three percent of the body's total weight, the brain consumes 25 percent of the body's oxygen intake. Win Wenger, in How to Increase Your Intelligence, noted that "only those brain cells which are close to an ample capillary blood supply are thoroughly developed. Away from such source of supply, brain cells remain undeveloped and useless." Wenger recommends "upside down activities" to increase oxygen supply to the brain. He states, "In short, you can much improve the physical state of your entire brain." A brain that is better nourished simply works better.

Some people claim that increasing the circulation of blood to the head through inversion may also improve the color and tone of your skin, stimulate mental alertness, and improve hearing and vision. In addition, some claim that hair will be healthier, and may even grow again, if the scalp is well supplied with blood.

How better to increase the blood flow to your brain than by using an inversion table? The Invertrac inversion table will gently move you into an inversion, allowing oxygen to more easily find its way to your brain.

Inversion Therapy Enables the Body to Stretch and Re-Align

Nearly every physical activity involves some form of compression of the spine. The compressive effect of gravity is compounded by activities such as running, weightlifting, aerobics, skiing, biking, and golf, which can exact an incredible toll on the spine, discs, and back muscles.

If we perform our daily activities in the wrong way, we can create skeletal misalignments. Most often, these misalignments are nominal and will readily correct themselves given the opportunity. Inversion with movement (such as side-to-side bends, back arches, and a partial sit-up or two) provides that opportunity.

One-sided activities can be particularly troublesome for the athlete for two reasons: The body will tend to over compensate for the strong-side muscle groups, pulling the spine out of alignment, and one-sided activities usually involve rotation of the spine, often under incredible loads. Examples of these activities are golf, water skiing, tennis, bowling, racquetball, and baseball. Inversion after physical activity may help to realign the spine and keep athletes performing at higher levels for longer periods of time. That means that a long active life is just another benefit of inversion tables.

Other physical activities tend to create tension in the muscles due to a contraction of the major muscle groups for long periods of time. In-line skating, swimming, bicycling, windsurfing and rowing are examples of activities which tend to create a great deal of lower back strain. Athletes in these sports can receive a tremendous boost from daily inversion therapy.

Inversion Reduces Pain in Overworked Muscles

Athletes prone to stiffness or muscle spasms after a workout can benefit from the lymphatic wash provided by inversion and the use of an inversion table. Intense muscle activities cause muscles to become sore. This is due to the build up of large amounts of lactic acid and cellular debris in the muscles. The faster this waste is cleared, the faster the stiffness in the muscles disappears.

Inversion Provides Balance and Orientation Training

The performance of inverted activities can be enhanced through inversion training. Inversion helps to develop balance awareness, which occurs when the upper regions of the inner ear are stimulated. Skydivers, gymnasts, springboard divers, and scuba divers find that inversion therapy fine-tunes the body and inner ear to the inverted world. Inversion therapy has also been used to normalize the ear canal as a treatment for motion sickness. As you can see, there are many benefits to inversion.

Inversion Strengthens Ligaments

Ligaments are the fibrous strips that hold your bones together. Ligaments are flexible but not very elastic, and can tear when they are stretched too much. The gentle reverse loading and movement that occurs while you invert strengthens ligaments and connective tissue, and helps to protect the athlete from serious injury. Ligaments that are not moved regularly in the right way, become stiff, inelastic and more easily torn.

A Final Thought on Inversion

The constant pull of gravity is the most powerful force your body will experience during its lifetime. Inversion therapy offers a system of stretching and light exercise that helps to slow or reverse the harmful, compression of the body by gravity. Used sensibly, inversion tables are extremely beneficial, and no more dangerous than many other popular and widely practiced fitness activities. Sometimes there's an explanation for why inversion works and sometimes there isn't.

The experience of thousands of people who invert regularly is that it gives them the relief from back pain they've been looking for. Just as important, they gain the rejuvenating effects of inversion on the entire body, providing health benefits far beyond the relief of back pain.

Inversion Benefits Summary courtesy of STL International, Inc., the creators of the Teeter and DEX products

The daily practice of inversion sessions on the Invertrac®can be the key to a longer, healthier and more productive life. Using gravity to our advantage only makes good sense.