Last Modified on Apr 13, 2014
A process that counteracts the effects of gravity, inversion board therapy is an effective treatment to relieve many forms of back pain. In addition to treating back pain, inversion therapy can promote health in a variety of other ways. A process that involves carefully inverting the body, inversion relieves the constant pressure on the body and alleviates a number of health conditions
What is Inversion Board Therapy?
Inversion board therapy is a system that involves turning the body upside down or on an inverted angle. The system typically utilizes an inversion table or board on which an individual lies and reclines. Other forms of inversion include hand balancing or hanging.
A form of spinal decompression and traction, inversion uses the opposite forces of gravity to naturally correct alignment and relieve pain. When in an inverted position, an individual is able to stretch out more fully and elongate the spine. The process also functions to increase the flow of blood to the brain, reposition the internal organs, and reduce stress on the heart.
Applications of Inversion Therapy
While traditionally used for back pain and spinal alignment, inversion therapy is also effective for treating a variety of other conditions. As the process naturally “defies gravity,” inversion offers the body relief and a reverse in the normal positioning. As such, the body is able to relax, flush itself more fully, and regain balance.
Inversion therapy is typically used to treat low back pain as well as spinal pressure. The process takes the regular force off of the nerve roots and disks in the spine and increases space between the vertebrae, relieving pain. It can also work to realign the spine and entire body.
In addition to treating back pain, however, the treatment can be used to alleviate breast cysts and tenderness, symptoms of PMS, muscle pain, swelling in the legs and feet, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome.
While traditionally suggested as merely a form of relieving back pain, inversion therapy has many more applications than just one. The process uses the opposite forces of gravity to flush the toxins from the body, restore alignment and relieve pain.
What is the Best Inversion Table?
Deciding what brand of inversion board to buy? Read up on the many reviews on amazon.com. We've bought two inversion boards during the past 7 years. Ironman is fantastic and reasonably priced at $199. It has almost 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon. After 3 years, we ended up giving our Ironman to a friend and upgraded to the more expensive Teeter Hang Ups table. We're quite happy with it. Teeter now makes an impressive inversion table with acupressure nodes!
Continue reading below to see how Inversion Board Therapy has cured back pain and carpal tunnel in Earth Clinic readers. Tried Inversion Board Therapy? Please share your feedback with us!
|Back Pain||6 YEAS|
[YEA] 04/01/2014: Shauna from Los Angeles, Ca: "I have used an inversion board for back pain for about 4 years. It is really amazing!! I have neck issues from sitting at the computer all day at work and it eases the compression and straightens up my shoulders, which start creeping up towards my ears. ha ha... not kidding! I think everyone should be using inversion therapy as they age. It is so great for the spine!!!"Replies
04/03/2014: Rebel from Somewhere, Usa replies: "Looking at possibly buying the Teeter 950 tomorrow. I know they sell for about $400.00 brand new. Person has one, he says in excellent condition and still has paper work on it for $250.00. He says table is his grand mothers and she can no longer use it as per her doctor, because she had some fusing done to her spine. May be able to get a little less than the $250.00, I will probably offer him $200.00.
I have been having some back pain, specific to the upper back and neck. Will post if I purchase to let everyone know my review.
Anyone with info on the Teeter 950, please comment on pros and cons. Thank You, Rebel"
[WARNING!] 04/13/2014: Rebel from Somewhere, Usa replies: "I made the purchase for $200.00.
I have to give a warning for this though. I did not fully invert, I only went about 120 degrees and only for 3 to 5 minutes at a time. I did not properly balance my self with the board, so coming back up really strained my stomach. ( I will explain this in a moment )Also if you are over weight like I am, it may actually not be safe to do anyways. It hurt my ankles as well.
So, I wind up going to the chiropractor. I had this catch or what felt like a catch or pinched nerve in between my shoulder blades. I iced for the ride down and he adjusted me and says, " You wear not out that bad. Well that did not sound right, because I had very bad headaches for a week at the base of my skull and the pain between my shoulders.
Back home I could barey lay my head on a pillow my neck felt as though it was to tired to hold my head on. I winded up thinking maybe it was some kind of virus or something and not my back, So I put a drop of CLOVE OIL on the base of my spine from the bottom of my skull down to the lower spine. So a couple drops altogether. That night was very painful, but the next day the pain had ceased, I felt normal again.
So back to the home choirs and projects I had started.This is when I notice a strain in my stomach. It scared me very bad I thought I might have strained a hernia. But a couple days latter and that pain has ceased as well.
I do not know what was going on with me. I do know that I was, already hurting when I got the machine. But, the machine may have been actually moving so much stuff in my back that recover was a lot muscle spasms, because of what the chiropractor said about I was not out bad. Or maybe it was some time virus that was really hurting me and the clove oil on the spine ran it away. I don't know, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. LOL.... I am a lot better now pain wise. I was at a 10, with 10 be worse pain and 1 being less. I am now at about a 3 or 4 pain wise.
[YEA] 04/01/2014: Shauna from Los Angeles, Ca: "I have used an inversion board for back pain for about 4 years. It is really amazing!! I have neck issues from sitting at the computer all day at work and it eases the compression and straightens up my shoulders, which start creeping up towards my ears. ha ha... not kidding! I think everyone should be using inversion therapy as they age. It is so great for the spine!!!"
[YEA] 05/01/2013: Joy from Battleground, Wash: "I ruptured L-5 and L-2,3,4 were bulging from lifting a sofa and spent 3-8 hours in the tub a day trying to get relief with epson salts and read Your Body's Many Cries for Water and that helped so much!!!
But while time went by in the tub, I had lost muscle strength and my back hurt so I sat crunched in a chair to avoid pain. My pelvic floor prolasped around the same time. It doesn't take long to lose your muscle when you can't move.
I bought an inversion table and it helped so much. I use it for my spine still and that has been years. You have be careful about your feet when you use them, since all the pressure is on the top of your foot when you are upside down.
You don't have to go way---back, just enough to pull the spinal disc open so the gel can get back between them evenly."
[BETTER BUT WITH SIDE EFFECTS] 03/19/2009: Gerald from London, Ontario/Canada: "For 6 weeks, I have been using an inversion board twice a day for about 5 minutes each time. I do not go into 180 degree position, but I am closer to 135 degrees. I have found this greatly reduces back pain and I have more flexibility. Recently, I was told I should not use this therapy if I have glaucoma. I don't have glaucoma but I did have a detached retina that has been repaired. There is no doubt that when hanging I feel increased eye pressure. As I have had my retina detached about 9 months ago, is there any contraindication for usage of inversion therapy."
[YEA] 01/08/2009: Andrea from Ontario, Canada: "A year ago my husband suddenly came home from work bent over in horrible back pain. Had the symptoms of Sciatica, however the Xrays and MRI showed nothing in the area. He was put onto anti inflammatories and pain killers which he hated. 2 weeks of laying in pain and no answers, His knee started swelling as well. I hauled our inversion table out of the basement and got him onto it, that is the one thing that started getting him upright again and moving. After a few days, he was pain free and it hasn't returned. He stands in one spot in his job,on cement so I believe compression is happening with the discs of his spine. The inversion board is terrific and I highly recommend it for anyone in back pain. Just start out easy and work you way eventually into full inversions."Replies
[YEA] 01/14/2009: Ruth Ann F. from Woodville, GA replies: "Oh you are so right I think same problem my 6'4" husband stands on concrete at work and so we got the inversion board to try to resolve the aches. Truly does help and we keep it out so we use it. I was getting aching from working at an ergonomically incorrect desk at a new job and this has reduced trips to the chiropractor. We looked at a variety on line and chose the Max Performance brand. I am still not completely inverted as we have only had it a short time."
[YEA] 01/07/2009: DL from Atlanta, GA: "Neck and Shoulder Pain Remedy:
I have had neck pain for years! It's gotten worse lately from all the time spent at the computer each day. My posture starts off great at the beginning of the day and becomes progressively worse as the hours pass. My eyes start to burn and I strain my neck forward trying to read the text on the monitor. As a result of holding this bad posture unconsciously for hours, my neck and shoulders ache non-stop. I am also starting to walk around in this position, with my neck thrust forward and my shoulders up. It's not good! After thinking about it for the last year or so, I decided last week to get an inversion board to help with my neck and shoulder issues. Turns out to be a great investment. I paid $165 for one on Amazon after reading all the reviews (I went with the Ironman). I now hang upside down at varying degrees (45- 90 degrees) 2-3 times a day for about 10 minutes each time. Upside down I feel the blood bathing the lymphatic areas in the groin and armpits. After a few minutes I come back up to the starting position and can feel the blood rushing back down to my feet before I invert again. It feels great!
Whereas a week ago I could not tilt my head forward without experiencing pain, now I can do so no problem. Tension in the scapula area is mostly gone. It's a mini-chiropractic adjustment each time I get on the board. I can feel (and sometimes hear) my spine pop into place. I was a gymnast as a child and loved being upside down. I find that I still love to be upside down -- it brings back a lot of great memories!
One note: consider wearing Timberland boots if you want to invert to 90 degrees, otherwise the clamps pinching your ankles get painful after a few minutes.
Also, be careful if you consider the cheaper version of inversion and buy the boots that you clamp into a bar at the top of a door. My husband has a friend that did this when he was alone in the house and couldn't get back up to unstrap himself! It was about an hour before someone came home and found him (alive, but scared). With a board, you control the angle of inversion and can easily pull yourself up by the side bars."
02/08/2009: DL from Atlanta, GA replies: "Inversion Board Therapy Update: It's been about a month since we got the inversion board set up at our home and I have to say, it's been a wise investment. After 1 week of use, my increasingly bad posture corrected itself. Additionally, I no longer have chronic neck and shoulder pain from sitting at the computer for hours! No headaches either. Another amazing thing that has happened is that I did not have any PMS symptoms last month nor did I have any menstrual cramping whatsoever. It was the most peaceful cycle ever! I think this is because inversion board flushes the lymphatics each time you use it. It's possible that inversion board therapy will help (perhaps even cure) fibrocystic breast disease and some other breast issues (breast cancer prevention?),so I hope others who have the space in their home (it's about the size of a treadmill) will consider the therapy. I now use it once a day for 5-10 minutes. More than that is not necessary. A friend of mine recently told me that she learned a technique in kundalini yoga to flush the lymphs in the armpits, so I will have to get instructions from her to post on the site!
Oh, I heard back from my friend about the lymphatic flush exercise in kundalina yoga. Very simple!
Standing pose: raise arms straight out at 60 degree angle and then windmill motion lower arms to 60 degrees. Continue for 3 to 11 minutes daily. 60 degree angle is critical --don't go straight up or down."
03/25/2009: Puni from Portland, OR replies: "To DL from Atlanta: I use the gravity boots on a pull up bar, I also tie a rope on the bar that I can pull on, in case I can't get back up to unstrap myself."
09/25/2009: Clare replies: "DL: You said, "Standing pose: raise arms straight out at 60 degree angle and then windmill motion lower arms to 60 degrees. Continue for 3 to 11 minutes daily. 60 degree angle is critical -- don't go straight up or down."
I don't understand. Is 60 degrees having your left arm at about 8 o'clock and right arm at 4 o'clock and then you do a windmill? If the 60 degree angle is critical, I need to know what 60 degrees looks like.
09/26/2009: DL from Atlanta, GA replies: "Hi Clare.
I had to email my friend to clarify these instructions. Hope you can make sense of this... I am sure it's very easy if we could just see it! Here is her response:
"Arms start at 10 and 2. Both are up at the same time and move between the up and down position together, either fast or slow. I think kundalini prefers you build up to fast movements. So, up is 10 and 2 and then move both arms up and down simutaneously to down 8 and 4. The other good flush is both arms straight up and shaking the wrists vigorously for minutes and minutes and minutes at a time. I think that technique might even be good for pituitary, but you'd have to ask a kundalini yoga instructor."
Breast Cysts and Discomfort
[YEA] 05/12/2011: Jane from San Fran, California: "I have had fibrocystic breasts since I can remember. In the past year, my left breast has been feeling very sore at some point in my cycle and lasts until the beginning of the next cycle. I don't have any issues as I get it checked regularly. Butthen a friend of mine who works in a medical center that treats a lot of breat cancer patients told me that most breast cancer starts in the left breast. After that I got worried! I have tried many remedies with limited success: vitamin e, lugol's iodine, b vitamins. I somehow found a discussion on using an inversion table for breast health on the web (curezone I think) and it resonated with me. I bought a cheap inversion table on amazon and started using it right away. The pain in my left breast went away after 10 minutes on the inversion table. I can also feel my neck and ribs adjusting each time I get on the table. I now believe that the issue is caused by compression of my ribs, pressing into the breast. I also think the lymphatic flush you get when you hang upside is also very important. I have now been doing this a month and the cysts in my breast have all but disappeared. I feel 100% better, it's amazing. I have tried hanging off the bed when I am away for work and it just isn't the same. I can't get the rib adjustment. I now recommend this to my women friends."
[YEA] 07/29/2009: Cindy from Kansas, USA: "I used an inversion table for carpal tunnel syndrome and it worked the very first time. It was amazing. I've only experienced symptoms once, since, and did a little experimenting and the inversion definitely does the trick. I've had my inversion table for many years and bought it specifically for the carpal tunnel after hearing a woman remark that hers had been cured. Even if I had only used it that one time, it would have been worth the cost (about 200 dollars US). Plus, I haven't had to go to the chiropractor at all since I've had the inversion table. I had heard of a chiropractor that had one in his private office but didn't offer the therapy to his patients. He just used it for himself! Since then, I use it for everything "chiropractic" in nature and sometimes just for fun!"
Pain and Cramping
[YEA] 06/11/2013: Annaj from Cairns, Queensland, Australia: "I am a female in my 40s and have had good success using inversion for pain and cramps in my calves and feet. I don't use an inversion board, but instead just use either a shoulder stand or for a gentler approach use a firm foam bolster to raise my hips about 8 inches. I find lying in this position for several minutes most days cures my leg pains. In the past my calves cramped so bad that I could barely put my heels down on waking in the morning, but using this inversion technique regularly has got rid of the problem."