One of the most common reasons people end up in the doctor’s office is because of pain. Back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and leg pain are frequent complaints. Medical professionals often send people home with instructions to either rest or exercise more. Often, patients are given prescriptions for pain medications to help them cope. For many people who deal with acute or chronic pain, inversion therapy using an inversion table or an inversion chair provides a healing answer to their pain problem.
It can be hard to get rest when you’re hurting. It’s even harder to get up and exercise when you’re in pain. Pills can help ease the pain in the moment, but they don’t really fix the problem. Pills can also cause a long list of side effects—have you seen some of the commercials for these drugs? “XYZ drug can cause high blood pressure, nervousness, dizziness upon standing, hallucinations, visions of grandeur…” You don’t need all of that. What you do need is to fix the actual problem and help your body repair itself.
Inversion Chair Therapy! Who Needs It?
Inversion Chair therapy consists of hanging in an upside-down (or somewhat inclined) position in order to counter the daily effect of gravity on our bodies. While this might sound as though we’re encouraging you to behave as though you live in a bat cave, stick with me for a minute and let me explain how inversion therapy works.
You see, not only does aging and injury take its toll on our spines, joints, cartilage, and muscles—gravity negatively impacts all of these things, as well. We don’t give much thought to gravity as we go about our daily life, but it takes a huge toll on our bodies and on our health.
Imagine what’s going on inside your body right now. Even if you don’t have any pain issues, gravity makes it harder for your body to move and stay upright. It weighs down on your spinal discs, compressing them, forcing the lubricating substance in between each disc to squeeze out. In some cases, it can help force a wayward disc further out of place.
All of this pressure affects more than just your spine:
- It pulls on your ligaments.
- It presses down on your joints
- Particularly Pressing the weight-bearing joints such as your knees and hips.
- Fluid gets forced out from between joint cartilage, causing rubbing, irritation, and over time, wear and tear.
Gravity also affects your lymphatic and circulatory systems. Our bodies work hard each day to move lymph fluid through our system, flushing away waste and toxins with it. Typically, the movement of our muscles helps squeeze this fluid through the lymphatic system. Gravity makes this harder. Sometimes, our lymphatic systems can’t do enough to drain all the fluid away and it begins to collect in our ankles and feet, causing them to swell.
Your circulatory system works similarly, except it uses the heart as the engine to move blood around our bodies. A constant supply of fresh, nourished blood is necessary to keep everything working smoothly. Gravity causes our hearts to have to work overtime to pump that blood around.
Inversion gives us a way to ease all of this and even reverse it. Everyone can benefit from inversion chair therapy.
How Does Inversion Chair Works?
When you use an inversion chair or table, you incline so that your head is below your heart. In more extreme inversion positions, your head is below your feet. This takes the pressure off of everything in your body, from your spine to your joints and circulatory system.
Your spine, free of all weight and gravity, can stretch out. Discs that have been compressed and uncomfortable are freed from one another. Herniated or misaligned discs can gently move back into place. The lubrication between each vertebrae is able to return back to its proper spot. When all of this happens, healing can begin in areas of your spine where ligaments have been pulled out of place or nerves have been impinged.
Your joints get similar relief as the weight is taken off of them. Inflammation and irritation are relieved as lubrication and blood flow are allowed to return to areas where they’ve been constricted or pressed out. With the return of these nutrient-filled fluids to areas that need them, your joints can repair any damage that’s been done.
Flow of fluids is very important in our bodies, which is why it’s important that inversion assists with our circulatory and lymphatic system. Areas in which the heart has had trouble circulating blood are provided some relief as we invert and blood is able to flow out of those parts and back towards the heart. When this refreshed blood supply is then pumped out to damaged muscles, joints, and ligaments, the body can better repair itself.
Inversion provides a similar effect for the lymphatic system. If lymphatic fluid has been pooling and causing swelling in the extremities (usually the feet and ankles), inversion therapy can help drain it out of those areas and move it through the lymphatic system. This helps cleanse our bodies of waste products.
Why Use An Inversion Chair?
While some people like to use inversion tables as part of their inversion therapy routine, others opt for an invasion chair. Why do some people prefer an inversion chair? How does the chair work? Let’s take a look and answer these questions.
An inversion table takes the user from a fully upright, standing position and then inverts them to whatever degree they move the table. This is done by clipping in and hanging from your feet and ankles. As you can imagine, for users with injuries or problems with their feet, ankles, knees, or hips, this can cause pain and exacerbate existing issues. This defeats the entire purpose of using the table in the first place.
As hanging by one’s ankles is hard on even healthy folks, a lot of people opt for therapy in an inversion chair. The chairs are particularly helpful for older users who are prone to stiffness and pain in the areas mentioned above. Inversion chairs are more comfortable and are very user-friendly.
With an inversion chair, the user is allowed to sit, rather than standing. Another difference when using an inversion chair is that the angle of inversion is more limited than a table. This puts much less stress on the ankles. An inversion of 70 or 75 degrees is much less than is possible with a table, but is sufficient to decompress joints, your spine, and assist with fluid flow throughout the body. Your chair will typically include a strap that will help you control your angle of inversion.
Because a chair user is inverting from a sitting position, rather than going from standing straight up, inverting is easier and much more comfortable using an inversion chair. Less experienced users may find that they have more control over their inversion when using a chair. Again—this makes a chair better for older users or those with pain and weakness in their lower extremities.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Inversion Chair
There are a few drawbacks to an inversion chair:
- Their design is more complicated than that of an inversion table
- Storing them can be a bit of a challenge.
- Some of the inversion chairs available on the market do fold up, making this a bit more easy.
- They are heavy, though, so moving them around can pose a bit of a challenge.
Unlike inversion tables, inversion chairs don’t have the ability for the user to lock the chair to keep it at a particular inversion angle. Some people like to do exercises while they are inverted; the lack of a locking mechanism makes this difficult (if not impossible) with an inversion chair.
Inversion Table vs Inversion Chair
People see similar benefits from using both inversion tables and inversion chairs. While the inversion allowed by a chair isn’t as extreme as that of a table, it is enough to provide the benefits of decompression, blood flow, and lymph drainage that inversion users seek. For those who are in need of fluid drainage from their lower limbs, a table will provide more immediate results, as the angle of inversion puts your feet even higher than in a chair.
If you have injuries or extreme pain in your lower extremities, though, the risks of an inversion table may outweigh the rewards. You can still benefit from inversion therapy by doing a more gentle practice in an inversion chair.
At the end of the day, which method is best is up to each individual user. No matter which route you choose, start slow and be gentle with your body. Never invert for more than one or two minutes during the first couple of weeks of therapy. Also, always talk to your doctor before beginning any new therapy or exercise regime. Inversion therapy can be dangerous for those with glaucoma, high blood pressure, or heart disease. If you suffer from any of these conditions, talk to your doctor to find out if inversion therapy is something that’s safe for you to try.