Is Inversion Right for You? A Quick Bit on Spinal Decompression

Humans are vertical creatures. Or at least, we should be standing more than sitting. Unfortunately, our build leaves us susceptible to the weight of gravity, leading to back pain and inflammation. Luckily, inversion may be one of the few ways you can counteract this phenomenon.

Benefits of Inversion

The concept of inversion therapy is simple. By inverting your body, it’s possible to decompress and lengthen the spine. Inversion also varies the flow of circulatory and lymphatic systems. While doctors haven’t reached a consensus on whether inversion therapy is a short-term or long-term solution, they have found:

  1. Inversion therapy, particularly when using an inversion chair or table, can relieve back pain, reduce disc inflammation and reduce joint pain.
  2. The circulatory and lymphatic systems flush out organs more easily with the help of inversion. Whether through yoga or inversion equipment, reversing the flow of blood and lymph can reduce fatigue and promote a better immune response.

The aforementioned benefits have the most scientific backing (“most” being a very relative word”). But there are other claimed benefits. These include increased mental alertness, stress relief, improvement in depression and mood swings and even a boost in creative thinking.

Drawbacks of Hanging Upside-down

While there are many possible benefits to inversion therapy, it’s not for everyone. Those with high blood pressure, glaucoma or cardiovascular ailments should consult a doctor before inversion or possibly avoid it all together.

If, and only if, your doctor or heart specialist approves inversion therapy, you should ease into it over time. When using a machine, let your body get used to a mild inversion. Then steepen the angle over time based on how comfortable you are.

Inversion Equipment and Techniques

There are many ways to participate in inversion therapy. Depending on your age and activity level, you may not need to invest in a chair or table. Here’s a rundown on the options available:

Inversion chair

Best for those with limited mobility or who are apprehensive of a full 90-degree inversion, chairs are a safe, comfortable way to decompress. Most are padded and upholstered, and all feature some sort of lap belt in addition to secure ankle restraints.

Inversion table

As implied, there is no seat with an inversion table. It’s a flat surface that can provides a steeper angle. For those with hypertension or cardiovascular issues, this inversion tables may be too intense. For those who need a steeper angle to achieve the desired effects of inversion, this may be the best option.

Inversion boots/gravity boots

Perhaps even more intense than tables are inversion boots. Also known as gravity boots, these restraints attach to a door bar and allow your body to dangle. Although you probably won’t find a steeper inversion, it can be extremely difficult to position yourself in these boots.


If you are already active or want to become more active, then yoga may be the best option to reap the benefits of inversion. Poses such as shoulder stand, bridge, plow or even a simple forward bend can stretch your back and promote better fluid/blood circulation.

Other traction systems

Traction is just another word for decompression. In fact, many traction systems don’t involve inversion, which makes them ideal for those with high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma.

No matter what route you decide to take, moving, twisting and inverting your body in different ways has many potential benefits. If you can’t try inversion therapy with a machine, whether due to health problems or otherwise, there are always alternatives to spinal decompression and inversion.

Back Pain Relief Guide


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