There are many health benefits that can be achieved with the use of inversion therapy. The use of an inversion table can be an effective way to treat back pain, as well as pain which originates from the spine and radiates to other parts of the body. According to an article by Seven Hefferon, CMT, PTA, CPR, at the The Healthy Back Institute, inversion therapy may also improve circulation, improve posture, as well as assist in correcting minor mis-alignments of the spine. As with any exercise program, it is best to consult your physician prior to beginning. As explained by the Sports Injury Clinic, the use of inversion therapy is contraindicated in individuals with pregnancy, hernia, glaucoma, retinal detachment, conjunctivitis, high blood pressure, recent stroke, heart or circulatory disorders, spinal injury, cerebral sclerosis, swollen joints, osteoporosis, unhealed fractures, surgically implanted supports, use of anticoagulants, ear infection and obesity.
Beginning Inversion Exercise
Begin the use of inversion therapy slowly. Spine Universe advises beginning with only 15 degrees of inversion, as even at this angle your body will feel a mild muscular stretch and the benefits of increased blood and lymph circulation. Begin by holding this position for one to two minutes, and progressing up to five minutes as your body becomes able to tolerate it.
Once your body begins to adjust to the use of inversion therapy, you may begin advancing the angle at which you are inverted. Spine Universe indicates that the spine begins to decompress at 60 degrees of inversion. It is at this point that pressure is taken off of the vertebral bodies, intervertebral discs and nerves that branch from the spine, often reducing the pain that is caused by the compression that gravity puts on these anatomical structures. Additional stretching can also be done in the partially inverted position. You can perform a back extension stretch by bringing your arms overhead and trying to place your hands flat on the floor. Stretches should be performed to a point that is comfortable and that does not cause pain.
Full Inversion Exercise
When fully inverted, the inversion table is in a "locked" position as it rests against the stop bar. In this position your body is free of the table, giving you the ability to perform various light exercises. For example, inverted crunches are a great way to build abdominal strength. Simply place your hands across your chest, and use your abdominal muscles to "crunch" or pull your head up against gravity toward your feet. Once you are able to perform this motion easily, you can progress to full inverted sit-ups, where you use the abdominal muscles to flex your trunk against gravity and touch your toes.