Inversion: a reversing of the order, arrangement, or position of something. (Encarta English Dictionary). One might question why, or more likely, how inversion might have the slightest notion to do with anything back or spine related; many ways in fact. Repositioning the angle of the spine is quite possible, quite healthy and actually quite popular. It is thought that the idea of inversion was invented as long ago as 400 b.c. by Hippocrates himself, as he watched a patient of his hang upside down on a table in effort to relieve his aching back.
Inversion therapy is a method of lengthening and strengthening the spine and space between the vertebrae using your own body weight. An inversion table allows this type of therapy to take place. While your body is relaxed in an inverted state, the body weight causes traction that relieves any tension on the fragile nerves in the back, and reduced pressure results in reduced back pain for everyday living. “When the body’s weight is suspended from the lower body – rather than borne on the hands as is handstands or headstands or hanging from a bar with arms at sides, which are also forms of inversion – the pull of gravity may decompress the joints of the body below the anchor. Hanging by the feet as with inversion tables, causes each joint in the body to be loaded in an equal and opposite manner to standing in an identical position of joint alignment” (source: Encyclopedia Wikipedia Online)
With any type of treatment or therapy comes its share of critics and skepticism. Inversion therapy is no different, as some claim you reap the same benefits simply lying flat on a mattress. Thus, many long hours of research and a multitude of different studies have since been conducted to measure the effectiveness of this type of therapy. The focus was identifying how the table aides in relieving overall back pain, avoiding the need for surgery and reducing missed work days/hours from employees. A study conducted of 116 employees of Volvo in a randomized controlled trial for one year concluded that “three training groups were studied, and after 12 months, the researchers demonstrated 33 per cent decrease in sick days from back pain. The average sick days lost to improve employee health and possibly reduce sick day costs to an employer.” (source:Dimberg L, et al: Effects of gravity-facilitated traction of the lumbar spine in persons with chronic low back pain at the workplace).
A second study from the Adaptation of Tilt Table for Lumbar Traction by F. Sheffield concluded that 175 patients that he evaluated suffering from back pain left them unable to work. “ Following eight inversion treatments, 155 patients were able to return to their jobs full time.”(source: Sheffield F.: Adaptation of Tilt Table for Lumbar Traction. Arch Phys Med Rehab 45: 469-472, 1964 Reference
However, due to the slow of the heartbeat and increased blood pressure from being inverted for more than a few minutes, inversion therapy is not recommended for those who suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma Inversion therapy also improves circulation, reduces stress, increases flexibility and even has the power to slow the aging process. According to Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. “In theory, inversion therapy takes gravitational pressure off the nerve roots and disks in your spine and increases the space between vertebrae. Inversion therapy is one example of the many ways in which stretching the spine (spinal traction) has been used in an attempt to relieve back pain.” Also ideal for those suffering from scoliosis.
Inversion therapy is more than simply hanging upside down; it provides endless health benefits, provides instant relief from pain and allows greater circulation to travel through your body. Be sure to invest in a quality inversion therapy when choosing to heal your aching back!