If you’ve arrived at this article, you’re likely dealing with some sort of pain. Perhaps you’ve got chronic back pain that’s keeping you awake at night. Maybe your knees are giving you problems and making it hard to move around. You might have swelling in your feet or ankles that just doesn’t seem to go away.
Constant pain can be frustrating and tiring. You can cover it with pills, but you’re likely looking for a way to fix the problem once and for all. Inversion therapy is a drug-free, safe practice that will not only help you feel better in the moment, but will help your body repair itself. This means eliminating your pain permanently by treating its source, rather than just treating the pain as a symptom.
The Principle Behind Inversion Tables
To someone who has never seen it before or who doesn’t know how to use an inversion table, inversion therapy looks crazy. How on earth does hanging upside down in a contraption help back pain? How can it relieve inflammation and help tissues repair themselves?
Simply put: it all comes down to gravity. Sit quietly and feel how—even if you’re not moving—gravity pulls down on your body. Every moment of the day, it puts pressure on your joints, your muscles, and your spine.
The constant pressure on your spine is a big factor in chronic back pain. Over time, discs become misaligned, pressing on nerves or causing inflammation to surrounding tissues. If you’ve done something to injure your back, the weight of gravity can further inflame and exacerbate it.
Similarly, gravity puts pressure on the joints throughout your body. It presses down on your knees, your hips, and your ankles. It constricts blood flow, preventing fresh, oxygenated blood from nourishing overworked or injured muscles. Gravity also impedes our lymphatic system from working as efficiently as it should. For those with severe issues with their lymphatic systems, swelling can be an issue—especially in the extremities.
Inversion can help all of this. When you invert and take the pressure of gravity off of your body, you receive the following benefits:
Improved spinal health
In an inverted position, gravity no longer presses your spine down, forcing discs out of alignment. When your spine is stretched, lubrication in between the discs, as well as nutrient-rich blood, can flow back in to feed and help repair surrounding tissues and cartilage. This is important to fix damage, as well as to maintain everyday spinal health.
Imagine all of the abuse your weight-bearing joints put up with on a daily basis. In addition to bearing the weight of the body, these joints put up with being jolted around as we walk, run, bike, exercise, and go about our lives. Gravity simply intensifies all of this. As with the spine, when we do inversion therapy, we remove the weight and pressure off of our joints, allowing lubrication and nutrients access to areas where they’ve been squeezed out.
Better Blood Flow
I’ll bet you don’t think much about how your blood gets moved throughout your body each moment. You don’t have to, as your heart constantly and involuntarily works to get the job done. With each pump, it moves blood through the lungs and the rest of the body, picking up and dropping off the oxygen and nutrients that help power our muscles and organs through each day.
Your heart is one hard-working organ. Imagine if you could help make its job easier! That’s what inversion does. By putting your head below your heart—or even your feet above your head—you reverse the impact that gravity has on your circulatory system. You help bring blood from the farthest places in your body back towards your heart. As the blood gets moved through your system, it can better pick up nutrients and deliver them to muscles and tissues that badly need them.
Detoxify your Body
It seems that every natural health remedy in existence claims that it will help rid your body of toxins. With inversion therapy, however, it’s simply a matter of mechanics. Our body uses its lymphatic system in order to move lymph fluid through, carrying toxins and waste products with it. Typically, this system is helped along when we move, as our muscles help squeeze lymph fluid along.
For some folks, this simply isn’t enough. Lymph fluid doesn’t move as it should. This results in the fluid pooling in their extremities. Sometimes, swelling in the feet and legs can result. Lymphatic massage can help. Inversion therapy can help, as well. By spending time with your feet inverted, lymphatic fluid can better drain and move through your system in the way it’s supposed to. By getting it moving, your body is better able to rid itself of toxins—helping you heal and feel better.
But I Don’t Know How to Use an Inversion Table!
Many people who want to experience the positive benefits of inversion therapy end up purchasing an inversion table for use at home. This way, they can use their table at their own convenience. One of the first things they must learn, however, is how to use an inversion table. Improper use can result in injury or exacerbated symptoms.
First of all, make sure you discuss inversion therapy with your doctor before you begin. People with hypertension, heart disease, or glaucoma should definitely speak to their doctors, as inversion therapy can affect blood pressure.
Once you’re in the clear with your doctor, check out online reviews to pick the table that’s best for you. When you get your table home, take care to read the instruction manual thoroughly. You’ll want to make sure the table is set up properly and that you’re using it safely.
Here are some tips to get you started with your new table. Remember that it’s advisable for people who are new to inversion to start slowly as they learn how to use an inversion table. Don’t overdo it and only do what makes you feel comfortable.
- When you first start out, have someone present with you. That way, if you run into any issues or have problems operating the table, there is someone to help you out.
- Make sure the table is secure and positioned on a flat surface. Also do a double-check to ensure that you have the table properly assembled. You should check your table every time you use it to make sure that everything is connected and nothing has come loose.
- Wear the proper clothing. Always wear shoes when you use your inversion table. Athletic shoes are best, as they will help you properly secure your feet. Wear comfortable clothing that won’t constrict you as you invert.
- Adjust the table. The inversion table should be adjusted so that it perfectly fits your height. Make sure that your head lays comfortably on the table itself. If it hangs over the edge of the table, you need to readjust. The instruction manual for your table will guide you through making the proper adjustments.
- Set the angle. Before you start, set the table to the desired angle. Always start out with a small angle; most tables will allow you to start at 10 degrees. Try that first before inverting more aggressively.
- Get into position. Step back towards the table. You will lift your feet one at a time and place them on the steps. Secure them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure all straps are secure and working properly before beginning to invert.
- Are you comfortable? The straps should be secure, but they should also be comfortable. If you experience any discomfort, attend to this before you invert.
- Use the straps or handles to slowly invert. Take it easy at first. If your body is new to inversion therapy and you’re still learning how to use an inversion table, it will take you some time to adjust and get the hang of it (no pun intended).
- Raise your arms if you can. For ultimate spinal decompression, raise your arms up above your shoulders. This allows your spine a full, lengthy stretch.
- Breathe, breathe, breathe. Don’t forget to relax and take deep breaths. Being upside down is a new experience and may feel stressful at first. Breathing will help slow your heart rate and oxygenate your body.
- Use the straps or handles to pull yourself upright Do this slowly so that you don’t get dizzy. Once you’re upright, rest there for as long as it takes for you to steady yourself before you undo the straps and exit the table.
- Start with short amounts of time. If you’re new to this, you don’t want to invert for more than a minute or two, at most. After the first week or so, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable with the practice and can gradually start adding on more time. After a while, people increase their inversion time to ten or even twenty minutes at a stretch (again…no pun intended).
When you first start using inversion therapy, you’ll notice that you feel better during the therapy, but your pain may return shortly after resuming your upright position. Long-lasting results from inversion therapy depend on using your table frequently. It will take time for your body to repair itself. Start slowly, stick to it, and in time, you’ll begin to notice positive changes!