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Does Inversion Therapy Work? - My Story

Updated on February 3, 2016

Having a bad back, a hurt back, a strained back… Basically any kind of injury to the back can make you want to curse – a lot.

Am I Old Enough to Fall Apart?
I’m not exactly sure at what age you are supposed to start falling apart, but after years of jujutsu, getting hit head on by a drunk driver (Loser!) and having radiation that caused scoliosis (had cancer 4 times), my back has suffered quite a bit.

I’m Whining, Where is My Cheese?
Life is relatively good actually, but let me just whine a little more for a minute. Because of all of this back mess, I’ve had really bad upper back pain (scoliosis), sciatica, an IT band that is as hard as concrete and a lower back that at times hurts so bad it makes me want to ball up on the couch and cry like I’m watching The Notebook. Err… wait, I’m a dude… I don’t watch The Notebook, but I do ball up on the couch and cry if I’m told I’m going to have to watch The Notebook. So yeah, pain like that.

What I’ve Done for My Back Problems
To ease my back pain and back problems I’ve literally tried everything you can think of, kinda’. I’ve done physical therapy, have had massage therapy, have been to chiropractors, taken Yoga classes, taken Qigong – And while a lot of these things have worked, they've all cost money on a regular basis. Fifty bucks here, eighty bucks there, and fifty again, eighty again… Oh wait, there goes sixty more. Anyway, you get my point. The money just keeps going out the door. One day I stumbled onto something though… Not literally stumbled or I’m sure I would have injured my back even more.

An Inversion Table? Say What?
One day while at my buddy’s house, who also had a bad back from sports and being reckless (or stupid) when he was younger, I learned about inversion tables because he had just purchased one. I had always known about them, but wasn’t at all familiar with them and had no idea how they worked or if they did really work at all in terms of helping your back. I just knew you got on them and hung upside down like a bat or something… and that they could be expensive (This is probably why I never really checked them out.)

Anyway, Greg, my buddy, decided to show me the thing. So he took me into his “weight room”. It was actually just a bench and a few dumbbells. He called it a “weight room”. Yeah right. No weight room has a friggin’ washer and dryer 5 feet away from a dumbbell.

So there it stood. A table, on a frame, on some hinges. A torture device? My first question was, “What the hell did you just buy?” Which was quickly followed up with, “How much did you pay for this thing?”… Which was then followed up by, “You have got to be kidding me.” My point, I wasn’t very impressed with what I was looking at.

Hey Dude, You’re Upside Down
At this point of course, he wanted to show me how the inversion table worked. Greg swore to me this was his new treatment for back pain. So he got on the table standing up, buckled himself in and slowly started drifting backwards by moving his hands up from the center of his stomach on up to his neck. His face got a bit red, and I thought he might explode or something, but fortunately he did not.

He did actually hang there like a bat though for a few minutes making all sorts of noises like I make after I take a huge gulp of beer (Speaking of, don’t drink beer and get on the inversion table. And don’t drink beer while on the inversion table.)

After a few minutes of hanging like a bat, he came back up for air or whatever you would call it, to the upright position. Then he wanted me to try it out… And since I was wondering does inversion therapy even work, I decided to give it all a try.

Inversion Therapy. It’s Just Upside Down.
I was a little nervous actually before my first experience with inversion therapy. I knew that I didn’t like heights and that I hated snakes, and I didn’t know if being upside down would be one more thing I’d be adding to the list. So anyway, I buckled myself in and slowly went back, but not all the way upside down (Heck no!)

When I got to whatever point I was at (I don’t know the exact degree man.), not quite upside down, I noticed that this medieval-looking torture device was now taking the weight off of my back. My back actually popped a few times. The portion of my back that has the curve from scoliosis right near my scapula did hurt a bit at first, but that subsided after a few shrieks.

As I hung there/laid there… whatever you say, the muscles in my back started to stretch like they’d never stretched before; and then they flat out relaxed. There were a few more pops along the way, but I can only assume that was a good thing.

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Did Inversion Therapy Work for Me?
After my experience I of course read up on inversion table therapy. I had questions about its safety, its effects on certain conditions like sciatica, low back pain and if it could really work as fast as it seemed to have worked for me. Some people who have tried inversion therapy posted on forums on the web that they absolutely hated it. Some people said it didn’t work at all and some said that it takes a while before you experience anything… But from my experience, I think inversion therapy definitely does work. But I also think it varies from person to person and is totally based on someone’s specific condition.

For example, with someone like me who has every back issue you can think of other than literally missing a backbone, I think that inversion therapy can work immediately because of all of the “immediate” issues. However, for just the average Joe with a minor issue, then yes, they might not notice anything for a while because the changes might be too small to notice right away. My suggestion, talk to your doctor and see if you and your condition make you a good candidate for inversion therapy.

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How About it Doc?
Also after my little experience being upside down, I asked my Chiropractor her thoughts on the whole hanging upside down thing. She said yes it does work for a lot of people but it isn’t always good for people with neck problems. It can exacerbate neck conditions and cause more pain.

She went on to explain that basically, inversion just takes pressure off of your back and spine. This allows the spine to decompress, realign and the discs to rehydrate. Because once we all hit about 35, the discs in our back start drying out (35? That’s too young to be drying up! What?)

So Did I Buy an Inversion Table?
No. Absolutely not. After my experience I did not buy an inversion table... And that’s simply because a friend that lives literally right down the street bought one. I use their table about two times a week and my sciatica and low back pain have definitely, without a doubt been relieved. Inverting has also helped my scoliosis, but the condition is pretty bad, so I’m having to also do some physical therapy on the side for that. However, in time, I hope to be at 100%.


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    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      So interesting! I'd never heard of an inversion table, but it sounds like a great idea and so much better than my exercise bike that I bought, but doesn't do a thing for my back.

    • ryano123 profile image

      Elvis Jackson 2 years ago from All around the world!

      Thanks for reading the article. You could probably try one at a sporting goods store like Dick's etc. Handstands? LOL!

    • ArianaLove profile image

      ArianaLove 2 years ago

      Thanks for this article. I've been thinking about looking into inversion tables. I wish I could try one before buying one. My L2-L5 is all kinds of messed up. Maybe I need to try handstands.