During a typical day, you can lose as much as ¾” in height. And because there’s only a partial recovery at night, the average adult loses ½” to 2” in height by their senior years. Insufficient distance between the vertebrae can result in nerve pressure, which in turn causes pain. To make matters worse, very often, the pressure on the discs is not distributed evenly. Your discs were not designed to cope with such uneven pressure. And sooner or later, it will be too much for them to withstand.
Inversion tables can have a huge positive effect on the body, but medical professionals seem to ignore this super-effective equipment. Most doctors are too busy treating the symptoms of back pain with treatments like anti-inflammatory medications, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and cortisone injections.
And they simply ignore what is one of the biggest factors that contribute to back pain: spinal compression. Numerous clinical studies published in reputable medical journals have confirmed that inversion increases the separation between the disks of the spine, which brings relief from back pain. There are many other inversion table benefits: maintaining your height, improving circulation, relieving stress, increasing mental alertness, increasing flexibility and range of motion, improvement in posture, and realignment of the spine after workouts.
Inversion therapy is a method of treating back pain by diminishing the influence of gravity, reducing the compression of the vertebrae and discs, and allowing the muscles and ligaments that encase the spine to relax. It is typically performed on what’s called an inversion table. The table allows you to lie on your back, relaxed, in an inverted position. This position eliminates some or all gravitational compression, depending on how far back you position your body. Indeed, using inversion tables is the safest, quickest, and most effective way to increase the space between your vertebrae. So let’s dive into our inversion table reviews and discuss the various benefits of inversion therapy.
- What is the Best Inversion Table?
- #1 – Innova Fitness Inversion Machine (ITX9600)
- #2 – Teeter Hang Ups Inversion Table
- #3 – The Ironman IFT 4000
- #4 – The Health Mark Pro Max
- #5 – The Ironman Gravity 4000 Inversion Table
- #6 – The Innova Inverting Table (ITX9800)
- #7 – Exerpeutic 275SL Gravity Table
- #8 – Merax Vibration Massage & Heat Comfort Inversion Table
- #9 – Health Gear ITM5500 Advanced Technology Inversion Table
- #10 – Pure Fitness 8514IT Inversion Table
- How To Choose An Inversion Table
- The Final Verdict
What is the Best Inversion Table?
#1 – Innova Fitness Inversion Machine (ITX9600)
The Innova inversion table (ITX9600) can accommodate larger than average individuals thanks to its above-standard length and width, but that’s not the sole reason Innova ranked as the #1 inversion table on our list. It’s extremely budget-friendly and provides consistently smooth inversion decompression, helping you to reduce pain and relax. Innova markets their inversion table as being ideal for weightlifters and runners, but we don’t think there’s any reason this would be particularly suited for athletes. The ITX9600 is one of the top inversion tables on the market today.
#2 – Teeter Hang Ups Inversion Table
The Teeter Hang Ups inversion table has two key features that make it one of the top inversion tables. First, a lumbar bridge that provides added support to the lower back and pain reduction. Second, stress-relieving adjustable acupressure nodes. This is simply our favorite inversion table for decompressive stretching of the back. For added safety, this inversion table boasts hinges that lock securely, and a height-adjustable foot platform
#3 – The Ironman IFT 4000
Just look at this Ironman inversion table. The IFT 4000 provides back therapy the likes of which has never been seen. It combines the relaxing effects of inversion with the palliative benefits of infrared heating technology. This inversion table features three adjustable starting angles, easy-to-use ankle grips, and a mesh pocket for your keys, wallet, etc.
#4 – The Health Mark Pro Max
The Health Mark Pro Max inversion table decompresses the spine, greatly stimulates blood flow, and improves posture to give you an overall better sense of well-being. It’s very versatile in that you can lay on your stomach or your back — a unique value-add from the other inversion tables on the list. The Health Mark Pro Max is also a great table for bigger people, being rated as safe up to 600 lbs. This inversion table does not allow for free movement, but rather has five pre-set inversion angle settings. This might scare some users away, but at BHG we didn’t find it to be a big deal. The Health Mark Pro Max inversion table is a great unit, but it’s also the most expensive table on our list. If you find it’s out of your price range, keep looking at the list below! There are plenty of inversion tables for sale below $300.
#5 – The Ironman Gravity 4000 Inversion Table
The Ironman inversion table offers comfort and safety for those looking to reduce lower back pain sitting or standing. This table, #5 on our list, really stands out for its safety features and durability. The Ironman inversion table has tough rubber floor stabilizers to ensure you don’t move while inverting, and a scratch-proof finish to keep it looking sharp. Also equipped with ergonomic ankle braces and protective vinyl back and side covers pad, the Ironman inversion table will stand the test of time!
#6 – The Innova Inverting Table (ITX9800)
The Innova Fitness ITX9800 has a unique, patented safety strap system to help protect users from injury. One semi-common occurrence with inversion tables is that sometimes beginners slip out, so these straps address this issue. A top inversion table, the Innova inversion table is capable of 85 degrees of inversion, allowing you to go almost perfectly perpendicular to the ground and get all those inversion table benefits. The Innova inversion table has a rugged, heavy duty steel frame, a comfortable ankle brace, and easy-to-adjust incline/decline functionality. Assembly of the Innova ITX9800 is somewhat complicated, but like anything on the internet, videos online can help.
#7 – Exerpeutic 275SL Gravity Table
The Exerpeutic 275SL features a super safe double ratchet system to ensure you are safe and secure while getting your inversion table benefits. One of our favorite inversion tables, the Exerpeutic 275SL has palm-activated ratcheted straps that help you to strap in tightly and to your exact leg size. Our #7 inversion table folds up for storage, has an adjustable headrest, and an accessory holder.
#8 – Merax Vibration Massage & Heat Comfort Inversion Table
The Merax Ultra Inversion Table is a full-featured inversion table boasting many benefits. First, it provides the inversion table benefits you’d expect – stretching, alleviation of back pain, and more. Second, it provides a heated vibration pad. Finally, the Merax Ultra comes with a massage pad. That’s an insane feature list for this sub-$200 inversion table! This inversion table has oversized foam rollers to make sure your feet are secure, and the back pad is high density. This unit also collapses for easy storage. We do not have anything negative to say about it!
#9 – Health Gear ITM5500 Advanced Technology Inversion Table
The Health Gear ITM5500 offers the most bang for your buck at a price point under $200. This unit from Health Gear (no affiliation with BHG!) stands out for its durable construction and rigorous safety testing. Health Gear has a high standard for quality construction and it shows. This inversion table comes with a removable heated massage pad — a great inversion table benefit — and is extremely portable. One issue many users point out with the ITM5500 inversion table is that the center of gravity seems slightly off.
#10 – Pure Fitness 8514IT Inversion Table
Compact and portable, the Pure Fitness 8514IT squeaked on to our best inversion table list because of its portability and ability to fit into small apartments. The instructions provided are a bit poor, which makes assembly more difficult than average. However, there are plenty of videos online to help walk you through the set-up. The 8514IT Inversion Table comes with vinyl padding that you can throw in the washing machine, and the table skeleton seems to stand up to abuse. One drawback of this inversion table is that it only has three inversion settings. It’s out of stock right now at Amazon, so we’ll update this article when it comes back.
How To Choose An Inversion Table
Back pain can have a huge impact on your life. It is hard to go about your daily activities when you are in pain every time you move. Inversion therapy is a natural, safe way to relieve back pain and also allows you to strengthen and stretch your entire body. Hanging upside down might not seem like an obvious choice for back pain relief but being able to decompress the spine allows your body to relax and takes all the pressure off of your joints. Without gravity to hold you down, your body can fully stretch. Let’s take a closer look at how inversion tables work and what exercises you can do on them.
How do Inversion Tables Work?
Inversion tables are fairly simple machines, although they might make you think of a torture device. There is a bed you lay on with a place to secure your feet and ankles. Once you are secure, you can flip yourself so that you are inverted. You can only invert yourself in small degrees or go completely upside down.
While you are inverted, your body is relieved of any compression on your spine. This is why you will feel less back pain and what allows your muscles and spine to fully stretch. When you are fully inverted, you are also “reverse loading” your joints. This means the same weight that is on your spine and joints while upright, is there when you are upside down. This is the ideal way to fully stretch and strengthen your body without any added pressure.
The Science Behind Inversion Therapy
Inversion therapy has been around for many years, so there has been some scientific study on the benefits of using an inversion table. Research has shown that chronic back pain can be relieved by using inversion therapy. The reason back pain is relieved is because of spinal traction. This is the scientific term for the stretching of the spine and the muscles and tissues surrounding it. Inversion is the best way to stretch the spine fully without causing other pain in the body. The causes of back pain can be from sciatica or lumbar disc protrusion. However, in each case, pain was relieved through consistent use of inversion therapy along with other physical therapies. In fact, back surgery was avoided with the use of inversion therapy!
Step-by-Step Guide For Using Your Inversion Platform and Beginning to Stretch
One of the most frequently asked questions we get here, at BestHealthGear, about inversion therapy is, ‘Does it work?’ Let’s explore the process of inversion, and some stretches, to contextualize the benefits. Here’s how you’re supposed to use the best inversion table.
- Simply your feet in, lock down your ankles, sit back.
- When you’re ready, lift your arm and you’ll tilt back.
- Once inverted, you get decompression of the ankle joint, the knee joint, the hip joint, the pelvis, the SI joint, and every vertebrae in the spine.
- Now that you are inverted, there are several things you could do to improve inversion table benefits.
- The first is reverse squat where you’ll be using your glutes and your hand strings to pull yourself up.
- The second is an abdominal crunch.
- The third would be a full sit up.
- The fourth, while inverted, you’re actually able to start rotating your hips and back.
- And the fifth would be grabbing onto the bars, pulling yourself down, and going more inverted to add additional decompression. If you are unable to achieve the fully inverted position, or are uncomfortable in the fully inverted position, that’s okay.
Inversion therapy begins to be beneficial to the body at about 25 degrees. It’s important to hold on to the grips, and increase your inversion manually.
That’s how you can gently progress yourself to full inversion.
Six Exercises to Try
If you have decided to practice inversion therapy, you are probably wondering what to do while you hang out upside down. Here are some exercises you can do to get the most out of your machine.
- Crunches – Being inverted allows you to have a full range of motion without putting any pressure on your back. This is an ideal time to work your abdominal muscles. Begin with a basic crunch if you are new to inversion therapy. You can do these on a slight decline or fully inverted. You do not have to worry about hurting your back, but you will be able to fully work your abdominal muscles!
- Sit Ups – Once you have mastered the inverted crunch, you can move on to a full sit up. Keep your hands loosely behind your hand if you are worried about your neck. Make sure you are lifting from your core and not building momentum to sit up. You should be able to get a full range of motion on each rep without feeling any pressure on your spine.
- Squats – Believe it or not, you can squat while you are inverted. Make sure you are comfortably secure in your inversion table and then slightly bend your knees as you press against your feet. It will feel odd at the beginning, but inverted squats will work your lower body just as well as regular body weight squats.
- Rotation – Rotating the spine is a great way to increase flexibility and relieve pain. Gently twist your body and reach for the opposite bar. You can hold onto the bar for a few seconds. Rotate to the other side and notice if there are any differences in how each side feels. As you get more comfortable, you can hold rotations for longer to fully stretch your back muscles.
- Side Arches – Extend your arms above your head and slowly arch your body to one side. Move your shoulders and hips in the same direction, so that you are forming a “C” with your body. Come back to a neutral position and arch your body the opposite way.
- Back Extensions – This will allow for a full decompression of your spine and should feel very relaxing. Extend both arms above your head and slowly arch your back. Do not overextend yourself and stop if you feel any discomfort. You should feel your back loosening as you stretch.
Important Tips For Safe Inversion
If you want to incorporate inversion therapy into your fitness routine, make sure that you are cleared by your doctor. Your blood pressure increases while you are inverted and will exacerbate any existing medical conditions. If you have any history of high blood pressure, heart conditions or other medical issues, then inversion therapy is not a good idea. Being inverted also puts more pressure on your eyes and inner ear, so be aware that any eye issues may be worsened while inverted. If you are pregnant, then you should also avoid inversion therapy.
Once you are cleared to begin using your inversion table, start with very short periods of inversion. One minute intervals are recommended for beginners. As you become accustomed to inversion, you can slowly increase your time. Do not rush the process or you may experience dizziness and nausea. Consistently adding time to your inversion periods is key to success.
The Final Verdict
Though it may look like a medieval torture device, the inversion table is a great way to relieve pain, stretch, and strengthen your body. Inversion tables are most popular for decreasing back pain by allowing your spine to fully decompress. This gives your spine and the muscles in your back a chance to fully stretch and relieve any pressure from gravity. Inversion tables can also allow you to safely exercise without further compressing joints. You can get a full range of motion without hurting your back, making abdominal exercises ideal for inversion therapy. Check with your doctor before you start using an inversion table and always start with short periods of inversion. As you become more comfortable, you will experience all the benefits of inversion therapy and maybe have a little fun too.