The benefits of inversion have been common knowledge for centuries. Ancient yogis in India were doing headstands and handstands and enjoying the health benefits of inversion before the western world even discovered the fact that inversion could be beneficial! Sadly, though, not all of us can twist our bodies into pretzels, nor are we inclined to, but before you write off inversion as only a “yoga” thing, say hello to inversion therapy and inversion tables!
The technique in which the body is suspended upside down, inversion therapy is claimed to be one of the best treatments for spinal and back issues. By inverting your body, you shift your body’s center of gravity, easing pressure off your back and stretching your spine, thereby relieving back pain. Thus, inversion therapy is claimed to be highly beneficial for people with chronic lower back pain, sciatica, scoliosis and poor blood circulation.
Inversion tables are equipment that is specially designed to use gravity to relieve pressure on the spine by decompressing it, based on the principle that having your head at a level lower than your feet can help in spinal decompression. Over the course of everyday activities such as walking, running and sitting, your spine tends to get compressed, leading to tremendous pressure on the spinal column and the surrounding muscles. Inversion tables reverse these effects by letting you hang upside down or at an inverted angle comfortable for you.
The benefits of inversion are many, and thus, by default, the benefits of inversion tables are many. We take a look at some of the benefits and tell you why you should consider buying that inversion table!
The Benefits of Inversion
The main benefits of inversion are enjoyed by your back and spinal cord, and as we mentioned earlier, a number of spinal and back conditions. Here’s a more detailed look at the benefits of inversion therapy and inversion tables:
Relief of Back Pain
Studies show that inversion therapy helped produce relief in people with chronic lower back pain after continued practice for 8 weeks. Inversion tables allow the spine to be decompressed by the same weight that led to its compression in the first place by creating an ideal stretch to maintain spinal health. Further, inversion tables help relieve back pain by performing the following functions:
- Rehydration of Spinal Discs: Hydration is vital to spinal discs, as this ensures better shock absorption and flexibility, keeping your spine healthy. Your spinal discs tend to lose moisture while performing everyday activities or while exercising, leading to back pain and spinal issues. A compressed spine means a lesser surface area on the discs for absorption of fluids, whereas a decompressed spine has ample space to allow for absorption of fluids. Hydrated spinal discs also help maintain your height and since your discs have a chance to rehydrate while you sleep, it explains why people seem to “grow” in height in their sleep!
- Reduce Pressure on Your Nerves: Your spine is the central hub for many important nerve endings that control communication between your brain and the rest of your body. These nerve endings exit the spinal column by weaving through your vertebrae. Spinal compression lays tremendous pressure on these nerve endings and extended pressure can even lead to nerve damage, commonly called a “pinched nerve”. Inversion helps relieve this pressure by creating space and decompressing the spine.
- Spine Realignment: Like we said, everyday activities lead to spinal compression. Additionally, everyday habits and activities can also alter your posture. For example, spending long hours in front of your computer can lead to hunched or rounded shoulders and wearing high heels can lead to lower back compression. Also, many sports favor only one side of the body, such as golf and tennis, leading to stress on the muscles only on one side of your body. All of this can also lead to a misalignment in the structure of your spine, which in turn leads to unhealthy changes in your posture. Inversion helps in realigning your body by gently stretching and easing your vertebrae back into place.
Helps in Relaxation and Easing of Stress
Stress can manifest physically, leading to muscle spasms, especially in the back, neck, and shoulder areas. Tense muscles can also lead to the misalignment of the spine or blockages in the removal of toxins from the lymphatic system. Inversion has proven to decrease stress, with as little as only 25 degrees of inversion. Inversion causes increased blood flow to your sore muscles, which results in the oxygen-rich blood stimulating the lymphatic system to remove toxin build-up. This also reduces muscle stiffness and pain.
Helps Maintain Joint Health
Decompressing your spine with an inversion table can aid in joint lubrication by helping stimulate the production of synovial fluid to nourish your cartilages and enhance shock absorption. This aids in strengthening your ligaments, which in turn are vital to hold your joints in place and support them, reducing chances of injury.
Inversion also aids in improving your overall fitness level by improving your flexibility and core strength by increasing space between the vertebrae. This keeps the spine hydrated and the muscles toned and flexible, improving mobility and preventing injuries. Inflexible muscles, if left that way, can result in a permanent bad posture in the long term.
Some inversion tables also help you build your core strength by facilitating exercising while inverted. Doing activities such as crunches or sit-ups in this position can help build your core strength as well as the strength of your lower back muscles and obliques, all of which are important for the support of your torso. Thus, inversion is a great way to build your core strength without the added burden of compression on your spine. You can also perform inverted squats on certain inversion tables to work on your legs, strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
Inversion tables and inversion therapy are hugely beneficial, as you’ve probably seen. However, inversion isn’t for everyone. If you’re suffering from heart disease, glaucoma, or hypertension, ensure that you check with your doctor before you try inversion therapy or invest in an inversion table. Also, remember to always start slow with inversion, starting at 60 degrees and gradually working your way up, as your body needs time to adjust. Apart from that, inversion is a great way to maintain your spinal and back health without the challenging aspects of traditional inversion methods like yoga.