I bought an inversion table about a month ago and have been using it for a few minutes every day. After doing a little research and not wanting to make too great an investment, I purchased this one on Amazon. I wanted to know if I would notice any difference in the (1) tension, (2) posture, and (3) flexibility of my spine by inverting for the recommended five minutes per day.
The cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of your spine are made up of 24 vertebrae that are separated by intervertebral discs. The discs act as shock absorbers to protect the vertebrae. They are filled with a gel-like substance that redistributes itself under spinal pressure. The discs also protect the nerves that run through the spinal column.
One benefit of inversion therapy is thought to be the alleviation of pressure on these discs and the nerves they protect by removing (or reversing, I suppose) the pull of gravity. This pressure release also creates space between the vertebrae that at least one study showed could increase spinal flexibility.
Another benefit is that tension in your muscles is greatly reduced. In conjunction with the gentle stretch provided by the inversion, this relief from tension can help to bring the spinal column back into proper alignment, which is often altered slowly over time via poor posture and muscular imbalances.
Studies and scientific evidence to support these claims are lacking, but the anecdotal evidence is there, and in my experience that’s often worth paying attention to.
It’s important to note, however, that inversion therapy is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma, or for those who are pregnant. It’s also important not to exceed the recommended limit of five minutes per day.
After the past four weeks, my personal opinion is that yes, inversion therapy aids with tension, posture, and flexibility, but the effects are short-lived. I estimate that I can feel the effects of inversion for less than an hour after I get off the table, and if inversion therapy was the only thing I was doing to improve the condition of my spine I don’t think it would take me very far. However, as part of a well-rounded fitness routine, I do think it plays its part.
This isn’t necessarily surprising. As I mentioned in another post, you can’t counteract ten hours a day of sitting with just thirty minutes of exercise and no other lifestyle changes. Similarly, you can’t expect to correct your posture or be noticeably more flexible with five minutes a day of inversion therapy and no other effort on your part.
That said, if you’re not contraindicated for inversion, I do recommend giving it a try even if only for the relaxation it provides. The pressure release even from a slight inversion (say 15-30 degrees) is almost instantaneous, and I feel significantly refreshed and relaxed after my usual five minute session.
Would you ever try inversion therapy? Do you know anyone who has? What do you think about it?