Gravity Inversion — The Pros and Cons of Hanging Upside Down to Treat Back Pain

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Some people afflicted with intense and persistent back pain are willing to through great lengths to find a treatment that works. One such extreme back pain treatment is called “inversion therapy.”

Inversion therapy is not some new-age idea but a really ancient one. In fact, this kind of therapy has been used as far back as 400 BC. The concept behind this treatment is to reverse the effects of gravity, to use downward force to defeat the pull of the Earth’s center.

Inversion therapy works by easing back pain by being turned upside down using an inversion table. This kind of extreme therapy is popular among those who suffer from chronic back pain and sciatica. Inversion therapy helps “decompress” the spine, releasing tension that cause back pain.

By changing the physical dynamics of the body, spinal compression is relieved from the vertebral structures, nerves, and discs. This works by lying horizontally at zero degrees or all the way up to 90 degrees to release tension from the back.

Inversion therapy is often performed using a table with hands and ankle straps. In other cases, an inversion chair is used. In a seated position, the physical dynamics of the body is changed to ease back pain while also providing better posture support and control for the lumbar spine and pelvis.

Benefits of Inversion Therapy

Total Body Stretch

Inversion therapy also includes a total body stretch to stimulate better blood circulation and allow more oxygen to rush to the head. Total body stretch also helps prevent fatigue, muscle strain, and pressure from the lower back. According to some patients, results from inversion therapy helped lengthen their spine and minimize pressure on their spine.

Minimizes Muscle Spasms, Improves Circulation

Some experts believe that inversion therapy helps stretch and strengthen the ligaments and muscles. This helps prevent muscle spasms while also improving circulation, leading to better cellular health. Stretching the muscle also stimulates the lymph nodes to produce more lymphatic fluids. The result? The body is able to get rid of toxins from the body more efficiently.

Prevents Motion Sickness

Being inverted in an angle will stimulate the inner ear, which is where spatial orientation and balance are controlled. A body being inverted at an angle could result in temporary relief from motion sickness and stress.

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Side Effects of Inversion Therapy

 It’s Not for Everyone

People prone to high blood pressure and heart or circulatory problems are strictly prohibited from going through inversion therapy. Inversion therapy requires the body to be put in an unnatural state, causing pressure in the circulatory and skeletal system. Too much stress could aggravate certain health conditions. Pregnant women and obese individuals should consult a doctor first before undergoing this kind of treatment.

It Causes Intense Pressure on the Eyes

People with eye problems, particularly those with glaucoma, conjunctivitis, or retinal detachment are advised against undergoing inversion therapy. Inversion of the body causes pressure on the head, straining the eyes. If you are suffering from pink eye or conjunctivitis, don’t do inversion therapy because it could cause the inflamed parts of the eye to become even more irritated.

It Causes Bone Problems

If your bones are weak, don’t try this treatment. Inversion therapy is not necessarily kind to the bones; even those with healthy bones will feel pain after treatment. As the body is inverted, it causes traction. Traction gives short-term relief for back pain but it could cause bone damage, especially those with weak bones. Inversion therapy may also cause damage on recent bone fractures. People who have skeletal implants are also advised against taking inversion therapy.

It Causes Diaphragm Weakness

In inversion therapy, the pressure from the spine is alleviated by being placed in an inverted angle. This position could cause parts of the stomach to move towards the chest cavity. The result is weakness of the diaphragm. Hiatal and ventral hernias are very common in inversion therapy because the upper body is thrust in a different position, causing strain in sensitive areas of the body that are not used to such pressure.

It Causes Disorientation

Suffering from middle ear infection? You might want to wait until your condition heals before doing inversion therapy. Inversion of the body when you have ear infection could cause mild pain and disorientation.

It’s Not Painless

Inversion of any kind causes strain on the hands and feet more so if you are doing inversion therapy on an inversion table. The straps will dig into the hands and feet, causing pain. Inversion therapy could also cause mild muscle pain.

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