I recently developed some back pain and spinal issues due to sitting properly at my desk while sketching. I spend hours in my studio and have often felt somewhat strained after a day or two or crunching away at drawings but this time it really put me in a lot of pain. I went to a chiropractor who basically told me I needed to stretch my back – and to do so she recommended I try inversion therapy. I went out and bought myself a pretty basic inversion table. It’s been 2 weeks now and the results (for me anyways) is short of miraculous!
Inversion therapy has been practiced cross-culturally for centuries with its origins being traced back to Hippocrates. Many people are interested in its benefits as well as how to use an inversion table. By using the force of gravity to decompress the spinal column and relieve pressure on the discs and nerve roots, you can use inversion therapy to relieve back ailments and allow the discs to reabsorb lost moisture, revert to their original shape, and decrease the pressure being exerted on the nerve roots. Here are some tips for using inversion tables
How to start out
If you are just starting out, it is best to begin with a shallow inversion at 15 degrees for one to two minutes for inversion table safety. This should help you get used to the effects of gravity-assisted blood flow and a gentle stretching of your muscles and spine. Do this once or twice daily for a week to get used to this form of therapy. If you ever start feeling too uncomfortable, set yourself upright. As you progress and start feeling acclimated to the exercise you can go on to steeper inclinations at 20 to 30 degrees.
Once you are comfortable with the inversion table you can progress to 60 degrees at five to ten minutes a day. At this inclination you will feel more of the beneficial effects of gravity-assisted stretching as the discs in the spinal column are decompressed. You can improve the effects of inversion by performing basic exercises such as rotating the neck to stretch and relieve neck pain, as well as rock side to side or back and forth on the pelvis to further stretch and decompress the spine.
Athletes, or at least those looking to maximize the benefits of inversion therapy, can perform more rigorous exercises such as sit-ups, back extensions and even reverse squats. This allows you to stretch and exercise large muscle groups without loading up on your spine and add variety to your daily workout routine. Performing conventional exercises on an inversion table allows muscles to work in a manner that they are unaccustomed to by changing the way that gravity acts as a natural resistance.
Some words of caution
Remember the following advice to prevent inversion table dangers. Use any safety straps or clamps provided to prevent from slipping of the table while performing exercises. Have a spotter on hand when performing exercises at steeper inclinations to further prevent risk of injury. Pregnant women, those who have spinal problems, and those with high blood pressure, glaucoma, cerebral sclerosis and other spinal or circulatory ailments should not practice inversion therapy or at least consult with a physician before doing so.
Are inversion tables safe?
Just like with any other piece of fitness equipment there will be a few associated risks. But if you know how to use and inversion table you will be fine. It is important to remember that inversion tables have been designed to promote safer and easier inversion therapy exercises. You should also be responsible in purchasing an inversion table as not all models are made alike. You should check out each individual unit to have a proper feel for its build quality, weight capacity, range of inversion angles available, as well as the warranty itself in case of any problems after purchase. Read up on any inversion table reviews as well. A great model to look at is the Life Gear Inversion Table or the Teeter Inversion Table with full functionality to get you started as well as the durability and build quality to make sure it lasts.
Of course, the best cure is prevention so I seriously recommend you make the effort to evaluate the ergonomics of your studio. Chronic back pain is not something you want to end up with and it can easily be prevented by setting yourself up ina good chair, with a good posture and getting up regularly to stretch your back and do some light exercise.