Hanging Upside Down is Good for You

Hanging Upside Down. Kids love it, adults need it.
Hanging Upside Down. Kids love it, adults need it.

Look at the difference is posture between the adult and the happy children in the above pictures. Wouldn't it be nice if some giant could play with us like that? Well, hanging upside down on a Gravity Inversion Table or a Yoga Swing, which are discussed later in this article, serve that exact purpose.

Hanging Upside Down is Good for You is a response to a viewer’s question on my YouTube channel in the following message. When you read the message, you may feel so familiar with it, that reading the entire article may help you too overcome chronic aches and pains for good.

Youtube Channel "Floor Exercises"
Youtube Channel "Floor Exercises" | Source

The Message

"... For the past few years, I have devoted most, if not all of my time to my job as a computer programmer. As such, I found myself slouched most of the time, and now I'm experiencing some discomfort in my lower back. I can now see one or two of the lower vertebrae poking out my back, it makes it really uncomfortable to sit on hard chairs because the back of the chair is directly against my spine.

I wish to avoid at all costs going to the hospital, going to a chiropractor; I'm more into the home remedies using stretching and basically trying to keep myself and my back as straight as possible. Would you know of ways to bring the lower portion of my spine back into alignment so that it no longer pokes out my back? I would appreciate it so much.

Thank you for your time,
Kevin"

Sounds familiar?


My Response

Hi Kevin,

Your question is so relevant to anyone who is desk-bound from their job and suffers lower back problems, that I have decided to write an article on hanging upside down to help you get those sore misaligned vertebrae back into place. This article also explains how to apply good ergonomics when working at a computer all day. But before we go and hang upside down, watch the next video to learn how to relax properly on the floor.

Relaxing on the Floor - No Pain, Just Gain

The first step to straighten a crooked, painful spine is learning how to be comfortable lying flat on the floor on your back (not on a bed). Follow the indications on the picture below to enable you to fully relax. If your neck or middle of the back areas are uncomfortable, use props in the form of cushions, bolsters or bits of pool tubes rolled up in folded towels to support any over-curvature (painful spots) in the vertebral column. The second thing is to learn how to breathe properly to boost blood circulation towards dormant parts of the body while relaxing.

How to Breathe

Once you are comfortably relaxed, lying on the floor, breathe in through the nose or 4 counts, hold for 7, and breathe out for 5 through the mouth. Any soreness you feel in your lower back, neck or shoulders, will diminish on each slow out-breath whereby you allow the body to relax further and sink deeper into the floor. In practice, we say: “Breathe away the pain.” If it is too sensitive, slowly roll sideways off the mat, get up, and rearrange your position; then try again.

how to be comfortable when relaxing on the floor.
how to be comfortable when relaxing on the floor.

Passive Lower Back Exercise Sequence

1. Lie on your back on the floor on your mat with a large firm cushion under the knees.

2. Place the stiff bolster exactly under the vertebrae that are sensitive.

3. Close your eyes, relax, and breathe deeply.

4. Concentrate on the patterns playing behind your closed eyelids.

5. Feel your body sinking deeper into the floor on each out-breath. Give yourself over to gravity.

How Long For?

How long you stay in the passive stretch is entirely up to you. It could be only a few minutes the first time round. Stay there for as long as you are comfortable. I would not recommend sleeping like that or you might not be able to get up again and end up in excruciating pain.

Prevent Shrinking in Old Age

We don't actually shrink with age. Gravity merely folds us downwards, like an accordion.
We don't actually shrink with age. Gravity merely folds us downwards, like an accordion.

Take Responsibility

Just remember that you are responsible for your own body. If done right, the relaxing exercise to improve posture by straightening the spine is a most pleasant experience. Given a chance, your friendly body always tries to help you get better. But why did it get so stiff and painful in the first place?

The underlying cause of all stiffness in the hamstrings, pain in the neck, shoulders and lower back must now be faced. The next problem all of us face is the damage we incur from prolonged sitting on chairs.

If you Must Sit on Chairs All Day...

Of course, no amount of happy relaxing on the floor will provide any permanent cure unless you improve your posture and modify your seating position.

If you have to spend hours on end sitting on a chair, at least make sure to use appropriate support placed behind the sore back to avoid vertebrae getting pushed out of place by poor sitting habits.

Use back support to stay upright.
Use back support to stay upright.

The next video "Are You Chair Shaped" explains how sitting on chairs all day can seriously damage your body, almost to the point where chairs should carry a government health warning:

"Prolonged sitting on chairs causes stiffness in the joints and chronic back pain"

Degree of Stiffness in the Hamstrings

Ergonomics at Work

Apart from relaxing on the floor and hanging upside down, which we'll deal with in a minute, it is very important to modify your workstation for greater comfort and variety of movement. To straighten my upper back, I used a cut off blue pool noodle as a stiff bolster at 2:20 minutes in the video that follows.

We Need to Hang Upside Down

The ultimate solution that cures stiffness and prevents all back pain, stiff neck and shoulder problems, is hanging upside down on a Gravity Inversion Table. Regular use of a Gravity Inversion Table is a must for anyone who is sitting at a desk all day, and that is the majority.

Why?

Most actions we engage in focus downwards, towards the front of the body, using mostly the hands and the eyes. We very rarely reach high up, or bend backwards. Constant imbalanced movements and long held positions require the back, shoulder and neck muscles to do overtime, to cramp up. That hurts. Something needs to happen to redress the imbalance. Downward traction and bending backwards in an upside down position provides the necessary counter motion to loosen, relax, and stretch those overworked and painful muscles and to stop us "shrinking" into a painful old age.

How Does it Work?

A Gravity Inversion Table allows the constant downward pushing force of gravity to work to the body's advantage for a change. Just like lying on an old fashioned vegetable scale, your body is balanced around its Center of Gravity (the pelvis) as its axis. If your body was stiff like a pencil balancing horizontally on your finger, the point of pivot would be your pelvis. A Gravity Inversion Table is as sensitive as an old fashioned scale. The degree of incline is controlled by subtle arm movements. Lift the arms fully overhead to gradually go deeper, eventually to the full upside down position.

The next video shows an advanced lower back exercise routine on a Gravity Inversion Table. Beginners can perform partial inversion as shown at the very beginning and the very end of the video.

Get Rid of Pain - Hang Upside Down

Benefits of Hanging Upside Down

  1. Decompresses and realigns the vertebrae
  2. Maintains your height
  3. Improves posture
  4. Adds to flexibility
  5. Strengthens abdomen
  6. Relieves stress
  7. Relaxes tensed muscles
  8. Improves circulation
  9. Heightens mental awareness
  10. Improves productivity
  11. Improves your mood
  12. Combats depression
  13. Makes you need less sleep

Hanging upside down also works psychologically. A short "hang" can help resolve many problems. For example, I put a very angry and upset client of mine who was going through a bitter divorce on the Gravity Inverter for five minutes. When he got up again, he was literally elevated. He smiled to me and said:"Oh well, I guess it takes two to tango." With a more positive attitude, problems are easier to face and to resolve.

Caution

Some of you believe that it's bad for you to get a red face with blood flowing into your head. On the contrary; more blood supply and oxygen to the brain is, up to a point, a good thing. Go slowly and not all the way down at first. If you get a head rush, slowly come back up until you can control the degree of inversion that you are comfortable with.

How long how often?

Five or ten minutes, 3 times a week, or whenever you feel tired, sad, angry, upset or depressed.

Advanced Gravity Inversion

Sorry it's out of focus. Get a sixpack by doing upside down sit-ups in no time.
Sorry it's out of focus. Get a sixpack by doing upside down sit-ups in no time.

Ever Heard of Gravity Inversion?

  • No, I had never heard of Gravity Inversion
  • I knew about it but wasn't sure how it worked
See results without voting

Where to Get a Gravity Inversion Table

Teeter Hang Ups EP-950 Inversion Table With Healthy Back DVD
Teeter Hang Ups EP-950 Inversion Table With Healthy Back DVD

Whether you want to improve your posture, reduce back pain, or simply minimize stress, the Teeter Hang Ups EP-950 Gravity Inversion Table elongates the spine, increases the space between the vertebrae, and relieves the pressure on discs, ligaments, and nerve roots. And less pressure means less back pain, as well as fewer headaches and neck problems.

 

Aerial Yoga Swing

Then, if you want to go further and be sure to stay in great shape, you can get a Yoga Swing to perform playful acrobatics in mid-air to your heart's content. While the Gravity Inversion Table is designed to gently lengthen and straighten out the spine, it is only a beginning towards ultimate health in the skeleton. On an Aerial Yoga Swing, you can perform additional positions and movements that are much more varied than those on the Gravity Inversion Table. On an Aerial Yoga Swing, you can safely move your body like a child or a young monkey in the jungle. The pleasure you get from a yoga swing is very much like moving when you were a child but with more awareness as demonstrated in the next video.

I discuss the Aerial Yoga Swing in more detail here.

How to Avoid a Dangerous Situation

Those of you who work from home are lucky in that, after reading "Hanging Upside Down is Good for You" you are now able to change your habits and create a workstation with sound ergonomics for computer work, which is much more comfortable and therefore, allows greater productivity than working in a traditional office. Those unfortunate souls who are trapped at a desk all day, in an office where there is no possibility of moving off their chair onto the floor, those poor sods are in a very dangerous situation indeed. All the more reason to loosen up and improve your posture at home, by having regular reconditioning sessions with Stiff Bolsters, a Gravity Inversion Table or an Aerial Yoga Swing to decompress the spine and relieve the damage done by prolonged sitting on chairs during working hours.

Thank you Kevin, for asking such a pertinent question. I hope that this article on a more ergonomic behavior and hanging upside down will help you and many others loosen up, straighten out and stop suffering unnecessarily.

Please share your thoughts and questions in the discussion below with a comment.

____________________

© 2016 JULIETTE KANDO - You may link to this article, but you may Not copy it. Copied content will be reported with a DMCA notice and will be removed.

____________________

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Comments 32 comments

Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 20 months ago from Andalusia Author

You may be right there Peach, or just relax at a very small angle of backward tilt.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 20 months ago from Home Sweet Home

if you have high blood pressure and diabetic, better don't learn from the panda


wordswithlove profile image

wordswithlove 24 months ago from Pennsylvania, USA

Sue, indeed that is what I do! Still, I have such a fidgety personality (constantly moving without much purpose even) that being still is a challenge for me. The only thing I can do for hours without moving is writing because then I am in my element! :) But I do my inversion religiously simply because if I don't, I will suffer from the horrible pain of sciatica sooner or later. Got to pick and choose, right? :)


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 24 months ago from Andalusia Author

Hi WordswithLove,

If you get bored, why don't you put some slow music on, close your eyes, and do some meditation, or gentle exercises to fully enjoy the sensation of hanging upside down. It's all to do with "living in the present moment". You can also concentrate on the subtle changes going on in your body while gravity is inverted.


wordswithlove profile image

wordswithlove 24 months ago from Pennsylvania, USA

Hanging upside down is a great idea! I do it everyday to keep my herniated disc from acting up. I discovered the inversion table a few years ago when I had dreadful sciatic pain. It was dreadful doing it when the pain was bad, but if I do it regularly at least a few times a week, it helps prevent the worst attacks. The only problem is I get bored hanging upside down!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 2 years ago from Andalusia Author

Be careful of what? Sure, take it slowly, do not go completely upside down at the first go. Listen to your body.


firstday profile image

firstday 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

Great stuff. I was talking to my husband about doing this. He does yoga daily and I told him even when he stands on his head it is not the same as inversion. I have heard of people using iron boards if they don't have a table. Be careful though even with an inversion table.


prasadjain profile image

prasadjain 2 years ago from Tumkur

A useful hub. So much pain is taken and homework is done in preparing this hub. Pictures are suitable. All essential points are covered. sub-tittles are proper. Congrats to you


firstday profile image

firstday 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

Great article…it all makes sense.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 2 years ago from Andalusia Author

That's exactly the right way of going about it Peggy. Do you have a Gravity Inversion Table then?


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

I saw this on G+ and came over to read it. Sounds good! I think I will start slowly and perhaps work up to more gradually. Will also share.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 3 years ago from Andalusia Author

That could only happen if you forgot to tie your feet in and suddenly swung all the way upside down which is impossible because at the beginning, you use a safety strap which prevents the gravity inversion table from tipping too far back. But you do need an experienced friend or instructor to get you started. Mind you, I never had help, just read the instructions and carefully experimented until I became familiar with the equipment.


calculus-geometry profile image

calculus-geometry 3 years ago from Germany

I like to do this with my inflatable fitness ball, as the image with the boy shows. The inversion table contraption looks easy to use, but I'd be terrified of it collapsing and me breaking my neck!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 3 years ago from Andalusia Author

Please try again Jason. Your message didn't quite come through. Gentle, not all the way at first, Gravity Inversion helps cure sciatica. But also look at some other floor exercises to ease the pain and regain strength and flexibility in your lower back. The Hub "Get Rid Of Lower Back Pain With Chiropractic Counter Moves" is also helpful for your condition.

Be well,

Sue


jason 3 years ago

Hi there folks,

iv had sciataca for about a


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 3 years ago from Andalusia Author

Sorry Amoda,

I don't know where you can get a giant bolster. The one on the picture was made by myself a long time ago. You can make one by using a piece of wide plastic drainage tubing (about 8 to 10 inches in diameter) lined on both inside and outside with foam (glued on). Outside foam 4 inches thick, inside 2 inches thick. Cover inside and out with cotton fabric.

Alternatively you might Google some "tumbletots" equipment for kids to play with but those are usually covered in plastic which is not as nice as cotton covers.

Another alternative is to use a "peanut ball" to relax the spine in an inverted hollow position.


Amoda 3 years ago

Hello, Doe you know where I can get a Giant Bolster in the UK?

thank you,

Amoda


Dr. Jones 3 years ago

Hi all,

I'd like to offer my professional, medical opinion. Inversion tables are very good for bad backs, and can be used at any age. I recommend it for everyone.

Dr. Jones


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 4 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hi Meg,

Yes, the gravity inversion table, if used with proper caution, could benefit someone with arthritis. Remember my motto: "No Pain, Just Gain!"


Meg 4 years ago

Would it be suitable for a back with arthritis?


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 4 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hello Michael,

If you could practice gentle gravity inversion, perhaps not all the way down at first and under proper supervision, possibly by a qualified masseur who could help to place the disc back into place, followed by remedial strengthening exercises, I am sure that it could ease the pain and improve the condition.


Michael 4 years ago

Can this help ease pain or even improve the outcome from a herniated disk?


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 5 years ago from Andalusia Author

Yes, Kohku and super cool, don't just talk about it, do it, get one, you'll never regret it for the rest of your lives.


super cool 6 years ago

hello kohku i agree what your saying about gravity invertor i think you should google it!!!but i agree in many ways!!!


kohku 6 years ago

Having read some of your other Hubs Sue, I am beginning to like what you are saying and shall seriously consider getting a gravity invertor.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia Author

That's very good news Claudette.


Claudette 6 years ago

I had a chronic back pain and recently bought a gravity inversion table. Now my back ache is gone and I and have suddenly become very popular. My friends have tried it and they keep coming back for more because they love it so.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia Author

Hi mega1. Old people use the gravity invertor, my mum used it at 82! But she didn't go all the way down. No, you don't have to lose weight before using one. Our inverter has a maximum weight capacity of 300lbs/136kgs. If that is not enough you can get bigger ones that feel more sturdy. But like I said in the article, if you are new to this, get someone to coach you gently, easy does it. You don't have to go all the way upside down to begin with but you'll soon want to. If there is a history of blood clotting or stroke I would consult a physician first. Otherwise, yes, it's great and definitely cures bad backs.


mega1 profile image

mega1 6 years ago

How would this be for us "seniors"? say over 50, well over 60? how about over 80 even? I know it would depend on the body condition one has, but what about benefits for seniors - are there any? Would it be dangerous? Could it help ease back pain? What if you're overweight? Would you have to get back to a normal weight first? Can you recommend a website that can answer all this? Sorry, to deluge you with questions, but this looks like it would feel so good!


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia Author

Thanks for you comment creativeone59.

Yes, advoco, off the side of the bed for starters and later on, if you are interested, they sell inversion tables in Churriana. Or you could try mine first.


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thanks Sue for very good hub on help for your back. creativeone59


advoco profile image

advoco 6 years ago from cadiz

Good one. It makes a lot of sense to me. I'll start with hanging off the side of the bed though. Nice b/w photos.

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