We live in an age rife with back pain. The average American adult spends hours hunched in front of a computer, leaving them with cricks and cramps when they stand up.
Now, in the age of COVID-19, home office practices have made things even worse. Both professional and social obligations land people in chairs, in front of a computer, leaving little chance for a healthy, active lifestyle.
Through all this sitting and slouching, the spine begins to compress and the muscles around the spine weaken, leading to serious, and even chronic, back pain. In fact, up to 80% of adults report that they experience back pain at some point in their lives.
There are many ways to address body and back pains–from increased exercise to chiropractic therapy. One relatively new therapy, Pro Inversion Therapy, is gaining attention as it can lessen body aches and pains.
Let’s explore how inversion therapy can help you with your body pain.
What Is Inversion Therapy?
Inversion therapy involves just that–inversion. Hanging upside down or standing on your head reverses the pull of gravity on your body, reducing pressure on your spine and creating traction. This technique aims to counteract the compression of the spinal discs, a common root of back pain.
It’s a natural and relatively passive treatment, and while there’s little evidence for inversion therapy having a lasting impact on pain, many users report feeling a considerable short-term improvement in their wellbeing.
As with any therapy or treatment, it’s important to talk to your doctor before engaging in inversion therapy. While considered safe for healthy adults, changes in blood flow and pressure caused by being upside down can aggravate preexisting conditions.
Forms of Inversion Therapy
There are a number of ways to engage in inversion therapy, and different kinds of equipment to help with the process. You might consider engaging in inversion therapy with the help of a trained professional for the first time, but there are plenty of at-home solutions for healthy adults.
Here are the most common ways that people engage in inversion therapy:
- Inversion Tables: Users are strapped onto inversion tables that are then swiveled to allow the person to hang upside down with their back resting on a flat surface. The recommended inversion table for back pain can also be used for certain exercises and range in price from USD$100 to USD$400.
- Inversion Chairs: Similar to inversion tables, inversion chairs allow users to be strapped in and suspended upside down, but in a position that puts less strain on the leg joints. Inversion chairs range in price from USD$150 to USD$450.
- Gravity Boots: These sturdy ankle boots allow the user to hang from the ceiling to engage in inversion therapy. They’re a cheaper option as it’s often between USD$50 and USD$100, and allow for more user mobility.
- Yoga and Alternative Techniques: In the absence of special equipment, some people use yoga techniques to decompress the spine in ways similar to inversion therapy.
Headstands, handstands, and plow pose in yoga all achieve a decompressing effect but should be conducted under the supervision of a trained yoga instructor. Another option is aerial yoga, which involves circus equipment to let you hang from the ceiling.
To avoid possible injury, both yoga and aerial yoga techniques should be attempted only with sufficient training and expert supervision.
Benefits of Inversion Therapy
The results of studies concerning inversion therapy are still inconclusive as to its long-term impact on body and back pain, but it does present a number of benefits.
Here are the main benefits reported from regular inversion therapy:
- Reduced Pain: Many users report lower levels of back pain after regular inversion therapy. The non-invasive therapy reduces pressure on weight-bearing joints, allowing them to recuperate. It can also provide short term pain relief and may help with pain caused by protruding discs or kidney stones.
- Improved Spinal Health: Like chiropractic therapy, inversion therapy can help improve the health of the spine by reducing compression, increasing circulation, and strengthening muscles along the spine.
- Reduced Need for Surgery: While inversion therapy is not a substitute for surgery, it has been shown to reduce the need for surgery among individuals with chronic spine issues. A 2012 study showed that 6 weeks of inversion therapy helped some individuals with lumbar disease reduce their need for surgery.
- Increased Strength and Flexibility: The positions involved in inversion therapy help stretch and exercise key muscles that support the spine in a way that can help increase the overall strength and flexibility of the back. The therapy can also be combined with exercises to further strengthen the muscles of the back, which ultimately improves posture, comfort, and back health.
- Relaxation: Some people engage in inversion therapy for its relaxing effect. The zero-gravity nature of the therapy considerably helps your joints decompress and reduces muscle tension.
Inversion therapy works best when combined with other therapies. While the full benefits of inversion therapy are still being explored, it can serve as a valuable complementary treatment along with other therapies targeting lower back pain.
Risks of Inversion Therapy
Inversion therapy is safe for most healthy adults, but being inverted increases blood flow and pressure to the head and especially the eyes. The therapy can, therefore, be risky to individuals with the following health concerns:
- Bone and joint disorders
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Issues of the eye or ear health, especially glaucoma or retinal detachment.
To minimize risk, consult your doctor before beginning inversion therapy. Similarly, inversion therapy should be started gradually. At first, don’t invert yourself fully—some treatments only require a 60-degree inversion or less. Also, make sure to limit the time you’re staying in an inverted position. You can begin experimenting with 30 seconds or so and work your way up to longer spans of time.
Inversion therapy is a relatively new way to address back pain and improve spinal health. Its effectiveness is still being explored, but the various health benefits it offers may make you consider adding it to your self-care routine.
A bit of zero-gravity suspension might be all you need for a healthier and pain-free life!