If you have been looking for back pain relief for any length of time, you may well have encountered people talking or writing about inversion benefits, referring to the benefits of inversion therapy. Inversion simply means being upside down — that is, having your head lower than your feet and legs for a period of time. There are several different ways inversion therapy can be applied, but the easiest and most convenient is by using specially constructed inversion tables.
What Is Inversion?
Inversion is a means of utilizing the force of gravity to carry out spinal decompression. Most back pain is caused by compression of the vertebrae, the joints in the spine that are separated by fluid-filled discs. When the vertebrae are pressed together, the discs are partially forced out so that the spinal bones press directly on the nerve, and this causes intense pain.
The most effective way of relieving this pain is to pull the vertebrae apart, reducing the pressure, and this is sometimes done by spinal traction, which is a method of using pulleys to pull the top half and the bottom half of the body away from each other, so as to create space between the spinal joints. Inversion therapy simply harnesses the force of gravity to do this, in place of a complicated and often painful system of pulleys. By having your head hanging down while your knees are fixed, you use your body weight to stretch and decompress the spine, relieve the pressure on the discs and nerves, and realign the spinal column, leading to measurable reduction in pain. For this reason, inversion therapy is sometimes known as gravitational traction.
Improving Blood Flow
However, inversion benefits are not limited to relief of back pain, important as this is. Another effect of gravity, apart from compressing your spine, is to slow down your circulation and cause blood to pool in your lower limbs, leading to swollen legs and sometimes blood clots. By reversing the gravitational pull, inversion therapy stimulates your circulation and improves your blood flow. What’s more, many people, including the world-famous author Dan Brown, insist that this process increases their creativity by sending more blood to the brain.
Among the many other inversion benefits, a major one claimed by many people is relief from stress. Symptoms of stress, including headaches, are often caused by tension in the neck, shoulder and back muscles, brought about by the posture we adopt when we are feeling stressed and tense. Inversion therapy enables these muscles to be stretched out, thus relieving the tension — as well of course as being very psychologically relaxing.
Balance and Posture
This relaxing quality is the reason why more and more people from different walks of life are seeking inversion therapy. Athletes, runners, swimmers and gymnasts often use inversion tables to improve their balance and posture. As the flow of blood to the head also stimulates the inner ear, which controls balance, those who use it develop a better sense of balance, which in turn improves posture. Many also claim that inversion helps with motion sickness, although this has not been proved scientifically.
At the same time, sports enthusiasts find their muscles get sore, due to cellular debris such as lactic acid that collects within the muscles. Athletes often need massage therapy to relieve this. However, with inversion therapy, the force of gravity causes the one-way valves in the lymphatic system to push the lactic fluid up the body towards the chest, helping it clear more quickly and easing the pain of stiff joints.
In fact, there are so many inversion benefits that there is clearly no need to limit the use of inversion therapy to those with back pain. Moreover, one of the biggest benefits is that, once you have your inversion table, you can conduct your therapy yourself, as and when you choose, and you won’t need the help of any kind of therapist. This alone makes it worth the cost of an inversion table many times over.