You’ve probably seen an inversion table in a supermarket or advertised on TV. “Okay, another fitness apparatus”. You were half right because such a table is much more than a simple workout item.
In this handbook, you will learn everything about what an inversion table is supposed to be, how it works and what perks it has to offer to users. We will bring to the fore all the information you need, from usage and types to specs and the most trustworthy manufacturers.
If you’ve had or still have any issues with your spine and/or joints, you will find this to be a very interesting, and potentially life-changing read.
What Is An Inversion Table?
In order to explain what an inversion table is, we must talk about inversion therapy first. It sounds like something surgical meant to invert whatever organs in one’s body. In reality, it’s a fairly innocuous form of therapy.
Inversion therapy implies turning a person suffering from joint or spine problems upside down or, in some cases, at a certain angle. What does that have to do with anything, you ask?
Well, when you’re turned upside down, the spinal cord is decompressed. This can work as a painkiller for anyone having back pain. Now, this type of therapy is done with an inversion table.
It looks somewhat like an ironing board. You lie on it, grip the two handles tightly and rotate at the angle recommended by your physician/chiropractor. The table rotates on two pinions to a maximum of 180°.
All of them are equipped with a key-component that ensures the user will be able to rotate at whatever degree he/she wants.
Inversion Table Parts
An inversion table has a quite simple construction. There are 8 main components to it, although these can differ from model to model. More often than not, the table is comprised of:
- A pivot – this is what makes the table rotate
- Leg rollers
- Backrest (both the backrest and the headrest are usually washable)
- A safety bar (this can be adjusted on 3 positions, depending on the angle you want to turn at)
- 4 legs – for stability
- Handgrips (made out of foam or rubber)
- A strap (allows you to stop the inversion at a certain angle)
These are fundamental for a proper inversion table. In case you want a DIY one, you know what components to buy. It’s not recommended, however, to build your own, because it may be a safety hazard.
Benefits Of The Inversion Table
It appears that inversion therapy isn’t good only for the spine and the joints. In fact, its perks are quite numerous. There are many skeptics out there who doubt that any of these advantages are real.
But then again, there are strong chances they’ve never used one. The pros of using an inversion table can be grouped in the following categories: digestive, pain, circulatory system and fitness.
In regards to digestion, it has been proved that inversion therapy can revitalize the stomach and boost the appetite and the immune system, as well. Its pain-relieving capabilities apply in the case of:
- Herniated spinal discs
Blood circulation is also improved a great deal. Moreover, if you have varicose veins, they might disappear after a few sessions of inversion therapy. Don’t expect any immediate effect, though. It’s no magic.
The fitness category has the highest number of advantages yet. Therefore, by using an inversion table, you will get:
- Stronger muscles and ligaments
- A better hand-grip
- Healthier and more flexible joints
- A better posture (extremely important when you’ve got any issues with your spine and your back)
- More energy and less fatigue
- A possible growth in height
Inversion therapy can also work wonders in reducing one’s stress levels, in alleviating the symptoms of seasonal depression and severe, excruciating PMS. It also improves alertness. To put it shortly, by doing inversion therapy, you are metaphorically born again.
How To Use An Inversion Table
Using this type of table is no rocket science, really. Actually, it’s the easiest thing ever. The first two things you must do are: adjust the table so it fits your height perfectly, then place the safety bar to the degree you want to rotate at.
Afterward, you simply climb on it, place your feet behind the rollers, lie on your back, strap yourself, hold the grips and proceed to being hanged upside down. Don’t do it in one sudden motion. Drop gradually and slowly.
Also, it is very important that once the rotation is complete, you breathe and relax with your eyes closed. The table might take some time getting used to. Some people are very unsettled by the fact they’re upside down the first couple of times they use the table.
Keep in mind that you must rotate at an angle that has been recommended by a specialist and you must stay inverted for as long as you can. Don’t push yourself over the edge. In a later section, I’ll outline some of the risks you’re predisposed at by using a table without talking to a doctor.
How Long and How Often Should You Use an Inversion Table
This depends on two factors: you and your doctor. If you’ve purchased yours for relaxation, you can use it for as long as you want, i.e. until all the blood reaches your head and you have to straighten yourself anyway.
Usually, people use it a couple of times a day, in sessions of 3 to 5 minutes each. Again, if you don’t attempt to relax, you might as well return it to the company you’ve bought it from.
You will not get any of the advantages of the table if you don’t learn how to blow steam while on it. Just talk to your physician and you’ll see that this is the first piece of advice he/she will give you.
Types Of Inversion Tables
There are two main types of inversion tables you can buy from any retail store specialized in fitness equipment: static and foldable. There really is no need of complicating a rather simple explanation, so here it is:
- The Static Inversion Table: You cannot fold it. This is mainly for those who have a fitness room in their houses or those with a lot of empty space, for that matter. Of course, this may not be as convenient as a foldable one.
- The Foldable Inversion Table: This could be a great buy for those who travel a lot. This way, they’ll be able to carry their tables with them, since they would be easily foldable. Moreover, these are perfect for people who have too much clutter around the house.
Obviously, you will buy the one type that fits your house the best. My recommendation is to get a foldable one anyway, just in case.
Due to the fact that there are so many brands on the market, it’s safe to say that the specs differ a lot from model to model. Here are some of them you should pay attention to, so you don’t end up with a product you don’t like.
Size And Weight
Commonly, most inversion tables have a similar size, but you can find mini-tables, for instance. These are good for kids. These usually weigh no more than 100 pounds. Even the bigger ones do not exceed this weight.
The foldable ones can be made with special materials that make them lightweight, in order to facilitate transportation. Static ones can weigh a little more, so you’ll need help installing and moving them around.
The weight capacity does not remain the same on any two given tables. Those with great weight capacities are called “heavy duty” and are made for corpulent people.
The heaviest capacity that an inversion table can handle is 350 pounds, which is no small thing, really. Small ones can accommodate a person with a maximum of 100 pounds. No matter how much you weigh, you can rest assured that you’ll find a suitable inversion table.
If possible, get one that has a great weight capacity. This way, you won’t need to ship it back because you’ve made the error of ordering a smaller one than you actually needed in the first place.
Inversion tables are made with either stainless or heavy-duty steel. When you research on the Internet, you’ll see that some manufacturers say the frames of their tables are made out of metal.
You should not give in to the temptation to buy any of those. Steel is the absolute best material. It isn’t prone to corrosion, so it lasts a lifetime, and it is solid. Thus, you won’t risk falling to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
And I shouldn’t even need to mention that if you see a table with a plastic frame, you better spin on your heels and walk in the other direction. Those have absolutely no advantages at all.
Yes, you may say they’re a lot more lightweight, but that’s not much of a perk when you lie on your table to relax and before you know it, you’re lying on the floor trying to figure out what happened.
A good inversion table must have adjustable ankle clamps. If your feet are sitting in an uncomfortable position, then it’s less likely you’ll be able to relax at all. Tall people, for instance, find it difficult to stand upside down while their feet are well beyond the clams.
Of course, preset, immovable feet clamps are not a good idea and they are sign that the manufacturer doesn’t really know what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. Those foam clamps must move up and down.
Controllable Inversion Degree
With such a feature, your inversion table will rotate to any degree you designate. Most of them have three levels. There is a steel bar that you fix in the openings drilled into the feet of the table.
During the process of inversion, the table will stop in that bar that you’ve set to the degree you wanted to spin your body at. Others may have other “devices” used for stopping the user at whatever degree they want to stop at.
Levers or buttons between the legs are common, so don’t be surprised when you see them.
Again, if you have the chance, buy a foldable table. Who knows, maybe you need to accommodate some friends in the spare room you’re using as a fitness hall. It will be hard to transport it out of there if it’s not foldable.
If you travel a lot and you want to keep yourself in shape, you can easily throw it in the trunk of the car and you’re all set.
Needless to say, that doesn’t happen with a traditional static table.
Hundreds of brands have mushroomed in the last years, but obviously, not all of them are good. Even though there are tens of manufacturers, we will be speaking only of 4 of them. We have tried their products out and concluded their quality is top notch.
Ironman Inversion Table
Ironman is a known manufacturer of inversion tables and fitness equipment in general. And for good reasons. They provide state-of-the-art apparatuses for a wide variety of uses. Moreover, they happen to have tables with huge weight capacities.
So, if you need one that supports more than, say 200 lbs, an Ironman table is worth considering. The company has quite a large catalog, in the sense that it provides numerous models.
The best thing about this variety is the fact that even those shopping on a tight budget can get an Ironman table. There are tables for any kind of money sold by Ironman. The company also retails tons of accessories, from goggles to gloves and shoes.
It’s less likely you’ll need goggles when on the inversion table, but it’s good to know they’re up for grabs.
Teeter Inversion Table
Teeter is one of the giants of this industry specialized in recovery products. It is also one of the oldest companies, having been founded in 1981 by Roger and Jenny Teeter. Since then, the corporation has sold high-brow inversion tables worldwide.
Due to having more than three decades of experience, you can rest assured that a Teeter inversion table will return outstanding quality for the price. Teeter is also impressive thanks to the fact that all their products are certified, material and safety-wise.
They even have an app you can use as you recline in your inversion table. The vast majority of their tables are equipped with acupressure nodes. These are tiny, soft protuberances on the table that massage the 8 major points and often sources of back pain.
This is truly a great innovation, all the more so considering that not all companies have it.
Innova Health Inversion Table
Innova Health has provided fitness equipment for quite a while now, particularly bikes, weight benches and obviously, inversion tables. The company is known for its price-quality ratio.
Innova has pretty much the cheapest products ever. You might think that the low price automatically translates as low quality, but fortunately, that doesn’t apply here. The chances are that you’ll go to the gym and you’ll see that 80% of the equipment there is Innova.
They don’t make any compromises when it comes to safety and quality, and that’s why they’re on top of their game lately. If you don’t want to invest too much in inversion tables, then I advise you to check out Innova’s catalogue.
Body Champ By Body Max Inversion Table
Benches, racks, weights, cardio equipment, treadmills, inversion tables – whatever you need, Body Max has it. 100 gyms could probably make themselves full with equipment from Body Max.
The company also happens to sell high-end inversion tables for good prices. They have very positive reviews from hundreds of customers who purchased their equipment from them. They’re highly recommended.
Inversion Table Risks
An inversion table is a fairly innocuous piece of equipment, generally. However, it can also worsen one’s symptoms instead of alleviating them. One of the most serious dangers of using such a table is high blood pressure.
- If you’re hypertensive, rotating on the table will cause an increase in blood pressure, which can be very dangerous. Hypotensive people will not have to take any precautions, but those who have issues with high pressure may not be able to use the table.
- People suffering from acid reflux may also be prohibited from using an inversion table. Hanging upside down will send all the acid in the throat, making the experience a lot more horrible than the person would’ve thought it would be.
- Also, if you have any ear problems, you might want to talk to your physician first. The increase in blood pressure will automatically put more pressure in your inner ear, as well as your eyes. Therefore, if you have an earache, it might get worse during or after using the table.
- In some isolated cases, the table might worsen spine and back pain, especially if the user has had any surgeries in the aforementioned regions. This usually happens due to the fact that the table is extremely rigid or because the spine cannot deal with the pressure put on it by the muscles.
As you can see, you shouldn’t undermine a visit to the doctor before going all guns blazing on your table. It’s all great until you realize that not only the table doesn’t really do anything for you, but it makes you feel even worse.
And here’s another piece of advice: if you feel uncomfortable and in pain while rotating on the table, stop using it until you assess the reason why it makes you feel that way. It won’t get any better, probably, but at least you know if your money went down the drain or not.
Maintenance And Cleaning
Like any other fitness device, the table also needs to be taken care of. Luckily, this type of table doesn’t need much intervention from your part. All you have to do to keep it clean is wipe it with a moist piece of cloth once in a while.
You shouldn’t use the rough side of the sponge, like many of you probably do. This will chip the paint and leave ugly scratches on it. Don’t use industrial cleaners or any type of solvent, either. Just a little water on a cloth will do.
Solvents and cleaners can damage the metal, even if it’s stainless steel. Speaking of storage, if your table is foldable, then store it in a safe place where nobody can kick it down by accident.
Inversion tables are awesome, no one can deny that. They’re cheap alternatives to getting rid of back pain. If you go to a chiropractor, a single session can cost more than an inversion table, and that’s a fact.
In this light, purchasing a table is an investment. We have given you all the information you need to make a good choice now. You’re probably going to buy one so you can get some pain relief, but here’s the deal:
Refrain from using it until your doctor has given you the green light to do so. Particularly when you’ve had some serious injury. It doesn’t help to read some reviews and to give credence to all those who claimed they had some miraculous recovery.
Spine surgery is no insignificant matter, and it can make the difference between being able to use the table and being stuck in a wheelchair.
In the following section, we will continue our journey through this branch of therapeutic fitness by outlining an in-depth buying guide for those of you who are interested in purchasing inversion tables.
We will also provide you with 5 of the best models on the market at the moment, so you don’t lose hours of your valuable time looking for them all over the Internet. Stay tuned for the buying guide!