Hanging Upside Down is Good for You
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.
"... 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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- Decompresses and realigns the vertebrae
- Maintains your height
- Improves posture
- Adds to flexibility
- Strengthens abdomen
- Relieves stress
- Relaxes tensed muscles
- Improves circulation
- Heightens mental awareness
- Improves productivity
- Improves your mood
- Combats depression
- 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.
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
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Where to Get a Gravity Inversion Table
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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