Many people have wondered if an inversion table is right for them. With most of the population suffering from some sort of postural pain, we take a closer look at the inversion table and whether or not it deserves a place in your health and wellness plan.
First things first, a SHORT anatomy lesson is necessary to help you fully understand the concepts behind the inversion table.
- Your spine is made up of stacked bones that are cushioned and separated by tough cartilage called DISCS. These discs in between your spinal bones act as shock absorbers. Your discs also help to create space between the spinal bones allowing nerves to branch out and connect to other parts of the body.
- These stacked bones of your spine are connected by JOINTS. These joints allow your spinal bones to bend and move just like the joints in your fingers allow you to bend them to grasp a glass of water.
Your body is like a machine that you use every day. You use it for work and play. We forget that it needs regular care. This can help to decrease the wear and tear over time. So as you can imagine, those very important DISCS and JOINTS get compressed and can degenerate as we live our lives.
When the space separating your spinal bones gets narrower and narrower because of compression or degeneration, your bones can end up putting too much pressure on your nerves. This can lead to pain and other dysfunctions in the body.
The idea of an inversion table is to use gravity to help decompress or stretch the discs and joints of the spine. In theory, you are reducing the pressure on the tissues and nerves that branch out between the spinal bones. This increased space can allow more blood and nutrients to travel to the discs to help reduce pain and degeneration.
Is an Inversion Table Right for You?
This really comes down to the individual. All our bodies are different. We all have different genetics, backgrounds, and lifestyles. What works for one patient may not work for another. An inversion table could be a benefit to you if you personally notice either of two benefits.
- Helps Manage Your Pain – If you notice that regular use of your inversion table helps to reduce the pain you feel daily.
- Improves Function with Long-term Use – Increased ability to achieve daily tasks more easily. Tasks like walking, bending, standing, sitting or even adjusting more easily at the chiropractor.
The catch is that you will need to repeatedly use an inversion table in order to know how it benefits you.
Experience with an Inversion Table
In the following paragraphs, we discuss what one of our colleagues, Dr. Stegall, at the Express Chiropractic location in Keller has learned after purchasing and regularly using an inversion table.
The Inversion Table
Dr. Stegall purchased his inversion table (the Mini version of the Mastercare Table) at Relax the back. Link available below.
His table has a couple of features that you would not normally find on your standard inversion table. These features are a sliding backrest to enhance the amount of stretch, and a locking mechanism which allows you to easily tilt at different angles with the push of a button. Where he does not see what benefit the sliding backrest holds, he liked the fact that inversion angles can be changed with a simple button push.
If you opt for this more expensive table with the sliding backboard and push-button feature, he recommends that you go ahead and get the larger table. The smaller version sits closer to the ground and can be a challenge to get up from.
Inversion Table Use and Recommended Protocol
In researching the topic, Dr. Stegall found some benefit in alternating moderate compression with de-compression. Since this is how a Decompression table in a chiropractic or physical therapy clinic would work, it stands to reason that we should use the same logic for home care.
Please keep in mind that if you get an inversion table, start SLOWLY. Even as little as a 15-degree angle can stretch the muscles and stimulate more blood and lymph circulation.
To start, we recommend inverting about 15 degrees and holding it for 30 seconds and then coming back to the horizontal position (or even a little beyond) for 10 seconds so you are bringing a little gravity back onto your spine. Repeat this cycle 10 times. You can do this daily for 10 days.
After you complete the 10-day introduction of ‘decompression’ to your spine, we recommend 3 days a week holding the inverted position for a minute at 15-45 degrees followed by going back to a horizontal position or slightly re-compressing the spine for 2 seconds and then repeat.
Dr. Stegall has been doing about 10 cycles of this and has found it to improve his overall function level and reduce any aching his lower back.
Please note that most people do not need to exceed 60-degrees of inversion because your body will naturally start to fight the decompression at this angle. Listen to your body and do not push yourself! It is also important to understand that if you have glaucoma or blood pressure issues, sustained inversion could be a health hazard.
Anything that you would like to add to the decompression protocol is up to you. Feel free to turn your head side-to-side, incorporate pelvic tilts or even stretch your arms above your head, but again, listen to your body!
How to Get the Most Out of Your Inversion Table
An inversion table really makes sense when you consider what we put our bodies through all day. Sitting in the car or at a desk for long periods of time, poor posture from being hunched over a phone or computer, all of these can contribute to premature degeneration in the joints.
Just like diet and exercise, using an inversion table takes time to become effective and yield results. You will get the best turn out from sticking to it long term and being mindful about it. Once you have been using it for a couple of months, inverting even just twice a week is probably enough but each person is different in the frequency that will work best for their spine.
As always, if you experience unusual pain during or after inversion stop and consult your chiropractor before continuing the process.
If you would like to learn more see the full “Will an Inversion Table Work for Me?” article Dr. Stegall wrote CLICK HERE.
If you or anyone you know are looking for a chiropractor in Frisco, Plano, The Colony, Prosper, McKinney, or any other surrounding areas look no further than Express Chiropractic of Frisco! Remember you never need an appointment, we have late hours most days and are even open on Saturdays. We hope to see you for an adjustment and massage soon! For our calendar and updated hours check out this link.
Inversion table image is courtesy of Relax the Back. For more information on the table and their products CLICK HERE.