Inversion tables are an equipment that are used to conduct inversion therapy, an exercise that releases stress and decompresses the spine by shifting the pull of gravity on the body.
By inverting the body upside-down, sciatic nerve pain is eradicated, spine and back muscle activity are reduced during electromyography (or EMG, a diagnostic medical procedure that is used to analyze electrical signals from the spine), pressure on the spinal discs is removed, and the lumbar area (or lower back) is decompressed.
Newcastle General Hospital in the United Kingdom Study
There have been numerous scientific studies that support these claims. In fact, a research conducted by the Newcastle General Hospital in the United Kingdom has looked into the potential of inversion therapy (and consequently the use of inversion tables) as an alternative to back surgery.
In their research, they divided participants (who were all experiencing sciatic nerve pain and were advised to undergo surgery by their doctors) into two groups, wherein members of the first group were asked to undergo physiotherapy and members of the second group were asked to practice inversion therapy.
At the end of the study, researchers discovered that inversion therapy resulted to a 70.5% less chance of still going through with surgery. While more than 70% of those who underwent physiotherapy still needed surgery after the experiment, only about 25% of those who practiced inversion therapy had to go through with it.
F.Sheffield (1964) – Effect on Absentism
Meanwhile, a study conducted by F. Sheffield in 1964 observed 175 patients who were experiencing too much back pain to continue going to work. In this experiment, Sheffield asked all of the subjects to undergo inversion therapy for eight sessions. Once all eight sessions were done, 155 of the patients were well enough to go back to work.
This means that, in this study, inversion therapy has a success rate of 88.6% in eliminating back pain. In result, the cost of sick days and absent employees are reduced and their efficiency at the office is significantly improved.
L. Nosse (1978) Using Electromygography
Another research performed in 1978 by L. Nosse supported the effectiveness of inversion therapy in relieving back stress. By using electromyography (EMG), Nosse discovered that spinal activity and back muscle pain declined by 35% within 10 seconds of the treatment.
In the same study, Nosse also found out that inversion therapy can lengthen the spine and that, therefore, spinal length and EMG activity are somehow correlated with each other. In other words, a better posture and a longer spine result to a lower EMG activity, both of which can be achieved through inversion therapy.
G. Ginaakopoulos ( February 1985), R. Goldman and M. Kane (March 1985) – Effect on Reducing Stress on The Lumbar Area
From February 1985 to March 1986, a series of studies have also looked into this matter. In February 1985, G. Gianakopoulos concluded that inversion therapy is effective in separating vertebrae from each other and, therefore, reducing stress on the lumbar area.
In March 1985, two different studies (performed separately by R. Goldman and M. Kane) proved that gravity-assisted inversion is an effective mode of therapy that can cure back pain.
B. Ballantyne (March 1986)
Another study by B. Ballantyne in March 1986 came to the same conclusion that inverting the body upside-down is a potent means of spinal traction that results to intra-vertebral separation in the lower back.
Dimberg’s Study On Absentism
Dimberg, meanwhile, used 116 participants to study the effect of gravity-assisted inversion on the reduction of workplace sick days due to back pain. In this experiment, Dimberg divided the participants into three groups.
The first group is the control group, the second group was asked to practice inversion therapy for 10 minutes a day, and the third group was asked to practice inversion therapy for 10 minutes twice a day.
After a year, the study concluded with impressive results. Members of the first and second group were 33% less likely to ask for a sick day due to back pain.
Sick days due to back pain also decreased by 8 days for each individual in these groups. Just like Sheffield’s study in 1964, Dimberg’s experiment concluded that inversion therapy is an effective way to promote health in the workplace and to reduce sick day costs for the owner of the business.
Even though there hasn’t been an extensive study that focuses on the particular effects of using an inversion table for back pain relief and muscle stress reduction, it is still considered effective in these areas based on the fact that it is the most efficient and secure modality of inversion therapy.
In comparison, gravity boots, for example, are too aggressive for inversion therapy.
Unlike an inversion table that allows the user to choose an angle setting that is comfortable for him or her, gravity boots only allow the user to hang completely upside-down.
Gravity boots, however, are more suitable for strength and muscle building because it forces the user to complete more vigorous sets of exercises. Overall, inversion tables offer more security and comfort for the user than gravity boots.
To summarize, inversion therapy and its most efficient modality, inversion tables, have proven time and time again that they are effective in combating back pain.
And because inversion tables are most secure and comfortable for anyone who is interested in performing regular inversion therapy, it is suggested that people choose to use this equipment instead of other alternatives.
Based on studies, it is also advised that a person does inversion therapy for ten to fifteen minutes a day, depending on the build-up of tension and stress on the spine, the lumbar area and the back muscles.
Moreover, precaution must also be exercised during inversion therapy. Inverting the body for long periods of time may result to lightheadedness, nausea and even fainting. If a person has heart problems, he or she must also consult a doctor before deciding to perform inversion therapy.
Nonetheless, numerous research studies have proven that inversion therapy and inversion tables are good for your overall spinal health.
If you badly need to relieve yourself of back pain and if you want to maintain a good posture and a lengthy spine, you should get a sturdy inversion table and practice inversion therapy regularly—the results just might astonish you.