If you’ve ever felt “heavy” after a long day of work, suffered any kind of back pain, held your baby for a few minutes too long, or felt stiff after hours in front of a screen, you probably could have benefited from inversion therapy.
Inversion therapy can benefit just about everyone. The concept is so simple—it requires no special equipment or training, and you can do it easily from the comfort of your own home.
Keep reading to find out what inversion therapy is and how you can benefit from it.
What is Inversion Therapy?
Inversion therapy is a form of treatment that involves being in an upside-down or angled position in which your feet are above your head. The aim is to stretch out and take pressure off the spine to rebalance, realign, and relieve back pain.
Throughout the day, gravity pulls down on the spine, causing compressed vertebrae and achy joints and muscles. Over time, this can lead to poor circulation, inadequate lymphatic drainage, and chronic back pain. Inverted positions give the spine a chance to decompress, defying the effects of gravity and improving function in the circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems in the body.
This form of therapy isn’t new or experimental—it dates back thousands of years to ancient yoga practices and poses. In fact, Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, used inversion therapy on his own patients.
How to Do Inversion Therapy
You can do inversion therapy in the comfort of your home without any special equipment. One great option is inversion yoga, including poses such as headstands, handstands, shoulder poses, dolphin pose, downward-facing dog, and legs-up-the-wall pose.
Another way to achieve a good stretch in the spine with an inverted pose is with assistance from inversion equipment, including:
- Inversion tables. This piece of equipment allows you to hang upside down securely while your back is resting against a padded board.
- Inversion chairs. Here, the idea is the same as an inversion table, only instead of being in a standing position, you hang upside down in a seated position.
- Gravity boots. Gravity boots, also called inversion boots, are ankle supports that allow you to hang upside down by your feet. They allow for more movement and freedom than inversion tables and inversion chairs.
You can also invert using every day or exercise objects at home, like a fitness ball. Lie on the floor and put your feet on the fitness ball, then lift your hips into the air for a bridge. Another option is to place the fitness ball in the center of your spine and lie backward over it. This helps to decompress the spine, just like an inverted pose.
If you’re wondering whether inversion therapy is for you, check out the six main benefits listed below and decide for yourself.
Benefits of Inversion Therapy
1. Relieves Pain
The most common reason people turn to inversion therapy is for relief from chronic back pain. Today, the majority of the workforce in the Western world sits for hours at a time, contributing to an ever-increasing number of people suffering from back pain.
Inverted positions help to stretch out the spine, correct the effects of poor posture, and separate compressed vertebrae. Many different types of pain—including muscle pain, nerve pain, and joint pain—are the result of a compressed spine.
You may be surprised by how many problems can be fixed with inversion therapy, including headaches, neck aches, lower back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis pains, and more.
2. Improves Circulation
It takes more of an effort for your heart to pump blood upward—toward the chest, neck, and head—than it does to pump blood downward toward the legs.
People with poor blood circulation can certainly benefit from inversion therapy. When you are in an upright, seated position the whole day, the blood flowing from your lungs down your legs may have a difficult time getting back up again toward to the heart. The blood then pools in the legs and feet, reducing the amount of nutrients and oxygen being carried throughout your body. One common problem that people experience related to this is varicose veins.
You can get your blood flowing back to the heart manually by reversing the effects of gravity with inversion therapy.
You’ll also benefit from similar effects on the lymphatic system. Inversion improves lymphatic drainage for better detoxification of the blood.
3. Realigns the Spine and Improves Posture
When the spine is out of alignment, it affects the whole body. Not only does it cause the obvious, back pain, but pain in many other parts of the body as well. The muscles and ligaments around the spine try to compensate for the faulty bone structure, causing added pressure in those areas.
A misaligned spine can also throw a person off balance, affecting the hips and other major joints and leading to visible symptoms such as a limp or a curved back or neck.
An inversion table can help to realign the spine quickly and effectively by moving the vertebrae back into their proper positions.
4. Increases Flexibility
Inverted poses help you to increase your range of motion and improve muscle and ligament health. The more flexible you are, the better coordination and precision you will have in your movements.
Keep your body limber and young with daily inversion therapy.
5. Reduces Stress
You can easily reduce both mental and physical stress with a little inversion. The upside-down poses force you to stop moving and just breathe. Inversion gets the blood flowing from your extremities back to your heart and brain, and it quite literally provides you with a different perspective and forced time-out from the daily grind.
Your muscles and ligaments also relax while you are in an inverted pose, bringing down the level of stress hormones in your body and providing an overall mental and physical stress-relieving activity.
6. May Help to Turn a Breech Baby
Do not attempt new inverted positions during pregnancy without consulting your midwife or doctor.
That said, inversion is one technique used to try and turn a breech baby before delivery. The idea is that when the mother inverts, it gives the baby a chance to come out of the pelvis and turn over.
You can easily incorporate inversion therapy into your daily routine from the comfort of your own home. This simple habit is an excellent way to relieve pain and stress and improve overall health.
That said, it should be noted that those with heart conditions should consult their doctors before doing inversion therapy, as it does temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure.