Millions of people around the world suffer from back pain, which can get frustratingly immobilizing. For some, medication doesn't always do the trick. This has led to the growing popularity of inversion therapy for back pain relief benefits and strength training. The best inversion table presents a great way to relieve pain on the spine and enhance its resistance naturally.
What is Inversion Therapy?
Inversion therapy, mainly in the form of inversion tables, is a non-medicated form of pain relief treatment that entails flipping the body upside down and stretching the back to reduce pressure from the bones, joints and discs in the lower back. In theory, this form of therapy is thought to alleviate back pain by generating a traction force through the spine.
It is worth noting from the get-go that there are potential risks to inversion therapy: It's not for everyone. Therefore, it's immensely important that you consult your doctor first before you give it a try. If you have already, here are 5 of the best inversion tables on the market worth looking into:
Best Inversion Table
1. Best for Back Pain: Innova ITX9600
If you're looking for an inversion table that'll be worth your buck fully, it's hard to look past the impressive Innova ITX9600 at such a fairly affordable price point, no less.
This is a popular and well-reviewed inversion table that'll suit people who want to treat back pain. It features a large, padded backrest and an adjustable headrest, well-sized to accommodate users from 4'10"-6'6", weighing up to 300 pounds. The ITX 9600 comes with a six-position adjustable pin system that helps find a custom inversion angle for different sizes and needs.
It sports a pretty solid build, with ergonomic handholds, reversible ankle holding blocks as well as an adjustable headrest. It also features the True Balance system, which allows you to invert effortlessly and safely. Furthermore, it comes with several foot security options, plus other customizable features to help you get the right center of gravity with relative ease.
2. Best for Neck Pain: Body Vision IT9550 Deluxe
Although inversion tables are commonly used for back pain, they can be just as effective for neck pain. The Body Vision IT9550 also helps to focus and alleviate pain in the neck and upper back.
It's made of memory foam material, which makes it remarkably comfortable to use. It has a removable headrest, well-designed to support both the back and the neck. The lumbar support pad on this inversion table is adjustable, which gives you more comfort and pain relief.
The IT9550 comes with four different inversion settings; 20,40, 60 and 90 degrees. This sturdy machine won't budge unintentionally, partly thanks to the easy-to-use frame stay locking pin system. It's worth noting that the inversion table can be purchased assembled, albeit at an extra cost.
3. Best Heavy Duty: Ironman Gravity 4000
Larger users may have trouble fitting on some options on the market. The Gravity 4000 is designed with such people in mind, with a 6'6" and 350-pound limit.
This is a feature-packed inversion table that many people will enjoy. It has a 2" memory foam backrest with adjustable lumbar support for starters, ideal for people looking to soothe their back pain. It inverts up to 180 degrees, giving you more allowance to stretch. This inversion table also features a palm-activated ratchet ankle locking system that feels quite secure and comfortable. The straps then give you full control over the angle of inversion. Just as vital, it has extra-long handles to help pull yourself up with ease.
The Gravity 4000 includes a foldable PVC mat that protects the floor against damage. Thanks to the ergonomic design, this inversion table also folds for storage.
4. Best with Massage: Innova ITM4800 Advanced Heat and Massage
- Isolated heat and vibration therapeutic massage inversion with...
- Assembled Product Dimensions: 46" L x 28 W" x 63" H
- Six (6) position Adjustable pin system with added Patent Pending...
- Adjustable headrest pad with large and comfortable padded backrest
- Accommodates users 4ft-10" to 6ft-6" with a 300 lbs. weight capacity
Heat and massage, like inversion, are equally effective in treating bodily aches and pains. The ITM4800 combines all three into one machine that might just be the one to take away your pain and agony.
The adjustable lumbar pad is what sets this inversion table apart. First, it's attached to a foam and vinyl back pad that provides great comfort to the user. More importantly, the pad both massages the back and applies heat to the specified areas, leading to highly effective inversion therapy.
It also features an adjustable headrest, well-engineered ankle-holding system and leg extension. Its oversized handles make it easy to maneuver around. Furthermore, it comes with six inversion options.
5. Most Secure: Exerpeutic Inversion Table with SURELOCK and AIRSOFT
If you're looking for a high-quality inversion table to relieve back pain, this is an option worth your consideration. This machine goes the extra mile to ensure you feel relaxed and secure when you're hanging upside down.
Safety on the 975SL is of the highest level. SURELOCK is an ankle locking system that uses two palm-activated and adjustable ratchet-tooth locks to hold your feet in place securely before you invert. In addition, the large and padded AIRSOFT holder ankle straps cover sizeable portions of your legs and ankles to ensure you get a firm and comfortable grip.
The 975SL also comes with a removable pillow and full-hold handlebars to help you turn around easily. This is a 165-degree inversion table with an adjustable rear crossbar that allows for three inversion positions.
Things to Consider in the Best Inversion Table
Thousands of people have been using inversion tables to address sciatica, middle and lower back pain and other related health issues. However, there's still plenty of research to be done on the full scope of inversion therapy. Therefore, there are a couple of critical aspects to consider before you reach out for your credit card:
This is certainly the most important element to have in mind when buying an inversion table. Essentially, you're at the mercy of the equipment during a therapy session. The inverted and/or suspended position puts the user in an evidently vulnerable position, where they risk falling or injuring themselves.
Safety begins with reaching out to your own doctor to determine if inversion therapy is suitable for you. A spine doctor guides you in finding the specific modalities and manual therapy that suit you best. Furthermore, this also gives them the chance to identify conditions that may require more urgent attention and treatment.
Safety also revolves around the right and secure safety clips that restrict how far back you can invert, as well as sturdy handles to help bring yourself back upright. Additionally, adjustable settings should help you to control your inversion angles. Better safety measures mean you'll be firmly secured to the inversion table throughout the therapy session.
2. Size/Weight Limitations
Each of these tables comes with its own height and weight capacity specifications. Generally, most inversion tables can hold up to a 6'5", 350-pound adult. When it comes to these machines, you really don't want to be pushing the limits since you could collapse mid-inversion and end up hurting yourself even more.
Sticking to these numbers also means getting the right fit for the cushions and straps. Fortunately, most inversion tables come with adjustable settings to give the patient a custom fit.
3. Build Quality
The quality of the materials used in construction determines how effective and durable the inversion table will turn out. This means going for high-quality carbon steel machines that can stand the test of time.
This also extends to cushions since you need proper padding for support and comfort. The best inversion tables come with thick back pads, lumbar support, plus neck and head support.
4. Inversion Angles
Top-rate inversion tables feature adjustable inversion angles that help you to move through different angles slowly. This should also be easy to control for the user. As highlighted earlier, it's vital to talk to your doctor first to determine where your inversion angle limits lie to avoid accidents.
For starters, there are essential features that you must look out for in the ideal inversion table, such as ankle support, auto-lock hinges, back pads and kneebar handles. These are part and parcel of the machine's safety features.
However, some modern inversion tables come with massage and heat capabilities if you're into bell and whistles. While these aren't particularly necessary, they certainly help in alleviating and soothing back spasms. You can also consider an option with pockets to place your hot or cold pack.
How do Inversion Tables Work?
Naturally, gravity compresses down on your spine, particularly from prolonged sitting, walking and heavy lifting, which can exacerbate any pre-existing spine issues. Inversions tables are designed to counteract this compression, hence the opposite approach to pull and lengthen the spine. However, it's worth keeping in mind that this only works during the inversion process; all the traction force is lost as soon as your stand up.
How to Use an Inversion Table
- Once your doctor has cleared you for therapy, start with a test inversion, meaning you invert for short periods, say 30 seconds, at small angles.
- For your first time, have someone next to you who'll make sure you can help you to invert and return to an upright position.
- According to Dr. Alf Nachemson's study, the recommended degree of inversion to reduce spine pressure is 60-degrees. Ensure that you stick within this specification.
- If your table has bars, use them to brace yourself and stretch, ideally by twisting from one side to the other.
- Press your lower back into the table's back continually.
- Increase the duration of your inversions gradually. However, keep in mind that regular inversions are more effective than longer sessions.
- Finally, learn to invert for a period, return to an upright position, then go to the next round.
So, what are the benefits of inversion tables? Other than just helping to relieve patients of back pain, inversion therapy has several other health patients:
- Builds a strong core.
- Enhances fitness levels and flexibility.
- Stress release and muscle relaxation.
- Pressure relief on nerves.
- Rehydrates the disc's soft tissues.
- Avoiding surgery for sciatica patients.
- Improved lymphatic drainage.
- Better brain function due to increased oxygen flow and nutrition.
Frequently Asked Questions about Inversion Tables
1. How long should you use an inversion table?
The recommended range is 30 seconds to a minute. Two sessions a day is a good place to start. The key is to start shorter durations and more sets until you have a clear idea of how your body responds. Don't worry about the numbers first. It doesn't take too long to feel positive spine sensations setting in. In fact, according to this LJ Noose study, the first 10 seconds are sufficient to relax your muscles by 35%.
2. What if I feel dizzy or get headaches?
The proper and safest thing to do is to stop the session immediately, turn back upright and contact your doctor. If it doesn't feel as serious, you can consider reducing the inversion degree, inverting for shorter durations or going slower.
3. Who should not use an inversion table?
Generally, inversion tables are not recommended to people who:
- Suffer from spinal injuries, herniated disc or osteoporosis.
- With heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke patients and survivors.
- With conjunctivitis, ear infections, cerebral sclerosis or glaucoma.
There's also an increased likelihood of inversion complications for pregnant women and obese people.