We have all types of treatment around for chronic disease and joint pain, and one of them is inversion therapy. It is a revolutionary type of treatment we can do at home; it only takes a few minutes every day and has been found useful to improve spine problems and joint function.
However, is inversion therapy equally effective and safe? Is there anything you need to know before buying your first inversion table?
What is an Inversion table?
An inversion table is a special device meant to provide support to your body as it rotates and puts your body upside down. By using an inversion table, you will be hanging on your ankles in a therapeutic process called inversion, which is meant to ease stress, improve joint health, and realign your spine. You can learn more on the physiological effects of Inversion Therapy.
You will be secured with a particular type of boots called gravity boots. They are designed to support your ankles tightly, and you can adjust them according to your height.
Being upside-down hanging from your ankles might seem a bit uncomfortable or scary. That’s why it is important to know whether or not inversion therapy is for you.
Side effects of Inversion Therapy
Inversion therapy is very effective in treating different ailments, but before we start naming them, let us review what type of patients are not recommended to try this type of device. The most common side effects are as follows:
- Incorrect use may cause lesions: Inversion tables should be used for a limited time, usually 5 minutes. However, people tend to overdo and spend too much time inverted. In other cases, they use a complete inversion instead of making a progression to get used to inversion therapy gradually. As such, they tend to aggravate their symptoms instead of relieving them, or start having new symptoms such as dizziness and gastroesophageal reflux.To prevent this side effect, it is recommended to complete a progression instead of completely inverting yourself in your first try. It is also important to avoid inversion table therapy if you have severe acid reflux problems.
- It is not a good idea if you have severe circulatory problems: Patients with circulatory problems and uncontrolled hypertension may find inversion tables problematic and dangerous instead of beneficial. Inversion tables create a source of stress in the circulatory system and it is not recommended for patients taking blood thinners and those with diagnosed heart disease.
- It worsens glaucoma, and it is not recommended for pregnant women: Another pre-existing condition you should take care of is glaucoma. Inversion therapy drags blood to the head due to gravity, and if you have eye problems, it can increase glaucoma, cause retinal detachment, and other problems. Pregnant and overweight patients are not recommended to use inversion tables, either.
Is inversion therapy useful for joint pain?
Yes! But if you’re not one of the above, it is very likely that you will find some benefit in using inversion tables. Still, it is important to talk to your doctor about this type of therapy to make sure you do not have any cardiovascular problems.
The benefits of inversion therapy are various and typically include spinal health benefits. Additionally, it improves joint health, increases our core strength and flexibility, and may even reduce stress.
We can summarize the benefits as follows:
- Inversion therapy relaxes tense muscles: During a 2 to 5-minute session of inversion therapy, muscles are stretched, and circulation improves. Thus, it is useful in cases of delayed-onset muscle soreness, and to improve pain and stiffness.
- It is useful to improve joint health: By improving circulation of blood and lymph, inversion therapy improves joint lubrication and stimulates the formation of synovial fluid, which contributes to support the joint and protect against injury. It is also useful to increase the collagen content of ligaments, resulting in stronger and more resistant ligaments.
- Improves core strength and flexibility: By decompressing joints, stimulating blood and lymph circulation, and lubricating the articulation, inversion therapy improves flexibility and body mechanics. It is a good technique to improve posture problems and improves the function of back muscles and core muscles at the same time.
- It is a good way to relieve stress: In many cases, joint and muscle pain are triggered by an increase in emotional or mental stress. Inversion therapy is one of many ways to find relaxation, and it works similar to yoga practices by turning your body upside down.
Tips to facilitate your experience with inversion therapy
A good experience with inversion therapy depends on various things. First off, this type of therapy should be avoided in patients with uncontrolled cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, and severe eye problems, and overweight and pregnant patients. Moreover, it is recommended to apply the following tips to guarantee a pleasant experience with an inversion table:
- Performing more frequent but shorter sessions are better than longer sessions conducted every once in a while.
- Start with sessions of 1 or 2 minutes and move forward to 5 minutes progressively, and always listening to your body.
- Do not fully invert yourself in your first session. Start with an angle of 20 to 30 degrees, and continue with that angle for around one week. Increase your inversion angle only when you feel absolutely comfortable.
- Relax by breathing and closing your eyes. The idea is to decompress your spine and improve circulation, which is possible if you’re fully relaxed.
- Results always take a while. Make it a habit to use your inversion table, and you will ultimately have positive results.
- Keep in mind that inversion therapy is not a pharmacologic treatment. Therefore, your symptoms may come back after a while.
You can find out more in the Mayo Clinic guide on the Risks and Benefits of Inversion Therapy.
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deVries, H. A., & Cailliet, R. (1985). Vagotonic effect of inversion therapy upon resting neuromuscular tension. American journal of physical medicine, 64(3), 119-129.
Raut, A. A., & Bagde, S. T. (2014). Inversion therapy & zero gravity concept: For all back Pain problems. IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (IOSR-JMCE), 1, 18-22.
Sadun, A. A. (1985). Ocular effects of gravity inversion. JAMA, 254(6), 755-756.