We all have those days in which we feel as if our back is in a vice grip, and nothing seems to be able to relieve the pain. Sitting in an office chair for hours on end can lead to lower back pain, especially if you do not take breaks or stretch often enough.
A common way to combat pain is using an inversion table to achieve decompression of the spine. Are inversion tables beneficial? Who should use them? What is the main benefit of using them? We’ll answer those questions and more in the coming article.
This article will help you find the best inversion tables for your budget so that you can get relief from back discomfort!
Comparison Table of Inversion Tables
|Name||Picture||Price||Best Feature||Our rating||Best Price|
|Teeter FitSpine LX9 Inversion Table||$$$||Best of the best. Editor's Choice. Awesome inversion table, up to 300 lbs||9.7/10||See Current Price|
|IRONMAN Gravity Highest Weight Capacity Inversion Table||$$||Up to 350 lbs, Comfortable ankle lock system||9.5/10||See Current Price|
|HARISON Heavy Duty Inversion Table||$$||Adjustable at 4 different angles, up to 350 lbs||9.3/10||See Current Price|
|Health Gear ITM5500 Advanced Technology Inversion Table||$||Up to 300 lbs, has vibration massage and heat built in to the table||9.2/10||See Current Price|
|Innova Inversion Table||$||Lowest priced quality inversion table, no frills but gets the job done||9.2/10||See Current Price|
What is an Inversion Table?
An inversion table is a piece of equipment that allows you to hang in an inverted position. When in the inverted position, your back and spine will be stretched and decompressed (the vertebrae in your back are separated).
This can relieve pressure on disks and other structures in between each spinal segment. It also helps to stretch out muscles along your posterior chain in order to reduce the risk of back pain.
Many inversion tables come with an ankle locking system that allows you to lock your ankles into place, minimizing any fear of falling off or injuring yourself during use.
How Does an Inversion Table Work?
The inversion table will cause the back and spine to decompress, taking pressure off of joints and disks. This can help with pain in your lower back as well as in other areas such as your neck or even hips.
The inversion table also stretches out muscles along the posterior chain which reduces the tension in the back afterward.
The decompression in your back takes the pressure off the areas that are load-bearing. When this pressure is reduced it helps calm down the nerves and allows for the muscles to stretch out. This results in a reduction in pain and discomfort for a short period of time after use.
What Types of Back Pain Benefit from Using an Inversion Decompression Table
People who suffer from back pain in the lower back region (can benefit from using an inversion table. This includes people with sciatica, herniated disks, or other painful conditions such as facet syndrome.
Many athletes also find that they benefit from inversion tables because they are able to stretch out their back muscles without having them spasm or get in the way.
What is Decompression of the Spine
Spinal decompression is the separation and traction of the segments of the spine.
During injury to the spine such as a disc herniation or facet syndrome, the spine becomes compressed. This compression can irritate nerves other sensitive structures.
Decompression is the act of elongating and relieving the pressure on the structures. Once the pressure has been relieved nerves can calm down, muscles can begin to decrease in tightness, and overall pressure is relieved.
This effect can be temporary based on the severity of the injury and status of the back.
Who Should Avoid Using an Inversion Table?
There are certain people in which inversion tables should be avoided. Pregnant women and younger children usually do not have the strength to hold their body weight when in an inverted position, so if they try it could result in injury or even death from falling off of the table.
People who suffer from glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye), detached retina, certain types of heart disease, or high blood pressure should also avoid inversion tables.
In addition to that people who suffer from osteoporosis (thinning of bones) may be at risk for fractures due to inversion therapy as well. So it is important you consult a doctor before using an inversion table in order to make sure it is safe for you!
We also typically don’t like to use an inversion table for muscle strains. If you have strained a muscle lifting or doing an activity then using an inversion table can cause the muscles to be stretched too far and cause it to spasms.
There are other activities that we recommend for muscles spasms, you can see our helpful guide here.
Will an Inversion Table Cure my Back Pain?
No, it likely won’t cure your back pain. So it’s best to have clear expectations on what an inversion table can and can’t do.
However, an inversion table can help manage and greatly reduce certain types of back pain. In addition to using an inversion table, back pain responds best to a stretching, strengthening, and exercise program.
How to Use an Inversion Table
The inversion table can be used in different ways and at different angles. We’ll review ways for decompressing the back and stretching out the back muscles but you can also use the inversion table for strengthening the core and other types of exercises.
Here are a few things to note before getting started:
- Make sure that your feet are securely fastened to the inversion table. A serious injury such as broken necks has occurred in people that didn’t fasten their feet.
- Make sure that you are strong enough to bring yourself up and won’t get stuck upside down
- Start and a lower angle. You don’t need to go completely 180 degrees upside down to get the benefit
- Start at only 1-2 minutes at first. Like any exercise program, you’ll have to start small and build up a tolerance. You can progress to 10-15 minutes at a time.
- Stop if you feel light-headed, have severe headaches, or have sharp pain in the back.
Step 1: Make sure that your feet are securely in the inversion table
Step 2: On most tables, you can set the maximum inversion angle. Start small and work your way up to being fully inverted
Step 3: Use your arms and body weight, tip the table over backward slowly. Look for the feeling of stretch and traction as you tip over.
Step 4: Once you get to the set inversion angle. Reach your arms overhead to achieve more traction. Focus on relaxing your back muscles, and take slow and deep breathes.
Step 5: Set a timer. Start 1-3 minutes for the first few weeks and gradually work up to 10-15 minutes. Remember all of the blood is rushing to your head so you’ll want to take breaks and come upright to let the blood drain back down to the body.
Step 6: Stay consistent. Similar to any exercise program the key to having success with traction is consistency.
FAQ About Inversion Tables for Back Pain
Most inversion tables have a weight limit between 300 and 350 pounds.
Check with the specific manufacturer before using or try searching for a bariatric inversion table for a greater weight limit.
We recommend starting at only 2-3 minutes at a lower angle (not fully inverted upside down) when starting off.
You can slowly increase your time inverted and the overall angle of the table each day you use it.
Eventually you can use the inversion table for 15-20 minutes at a single use before going back upright.
Yes, in certain situations inversion tables can make your back pain worse.
This may be the case with acute muscle strains in the low back that won't take to the long duration stretching.
When using an inversion table stop if you start to experience pain that increases and doesn't get better within a short period of being inverted.
No, there are some people that absolutely love and swear by their inversion table.
Depending on what is exactly going on in your back you may get more or less pain relief than the next person.
Using an inversion table is absolutely worth a try and is overall an inexpensive option for treating low back pain in the grand scheme of things. Especially when compared to surgery or injections.
An inversion table can help with neck pain as it decompresses the whole spine. Be sure to try and relax your neck muscles and not fight it.
Similar to decompression in the lower back, it does take time to build up tolerance to the inversion table and consistency is key.
The Best Inversion Tables for Back Pain
The best inversion tables are ones that allow you to adjust which angle is comfortable for you when used in either method.
Teeter LX9 Inversion Table
Summary: The Teeter LX9 inversion table is our top choice. It has an extra-long, aerospace-grade stainless steel ankle lock handle for easy securing. Includes a safety feature of preset markings at 20, 40, and 60 degrees for easy adjustment and a way to gradually progress the inversion. You can also do a full inversion lock-out.
Pros: Excellent ankle locking system, acupressure points, easy-to-use tilt with a single-arm movement, safety certification, 5-year warranty, and up to 300 lb weight limit.
Cons: No real issues, it is the most expensive option.
IRONMAN Gravity Highest Weight Capacity Inversion Table
Summary: The Ironman Inversion table is the best option if you are a larger person. It supports up to 350 lbs, has an extra thick backrest, and has airsoft technology in the ankle locking mechanism.
Pros: Comfortable backrest, easy to use and quality ankle locking system, adjusts to 4 different levels of inversion.
Cons: The headrest for taller users may not be as comfortable.
HARISON Heavy Duty Inversion Table
Summary: The Harison Inversion table is a solid mid-level option. It has an updated frame for support and stability, adjusts to 4 different inversion angles, and comes with a full-year free replacement option.
Pros: Well made, simple to use, comes in at a friendly price.
Cons: Minimal complaints, it is on the heavier side so moving it around can be a pain
Health Gear ITM5500 Advanced Technology Inversion Table
Summary: The Health Gear Inversion table is a good budget option. We love the idea of the vibration massage and heated backrest to promote more muscle relaxation. Supports up to 300 lbs, the massage insert is removable and the ankle locking system has a long reach handle to make it easier to use.
Pros: Comfortable, we love the heat and vibration massage.
Cons: Some complaints of it not being as easy as others to get out of and back vertical. Use with a partner the first time.
Innova Inversion Table
Summary: Thea Innova Inversion table is the most basic on the list and is also the most budget-friendly. This is a great option for those that want to try an inversion table first before going for the more expensive models.
Pros: Easy to use handles to control inversion, sturdy ankle holds, and lumbar support that feels nice.
Cons: No fancy bells or whistle, short ankle locking mechanism
Don’t let low back pain slow you down. With stretching, strengthening, and some added decompression therapy with an inversion table you can self-manage your low back pain and save money at the same time.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.