Evidence is mixed on whether inversion therapy actually treats the issues that enthusiasts claim it does, such as long-term relief from sciatica, low back pain, and muscle spasms. However, there is some indication that using an inversion table can provide temporary relief, and for people who are in a lot of pain, that’s reason enough to look into buying an inversion table. If you find that inversion works for you to relieve lower back pain caused by spinal disk compression, your medical doctor might add the practice as part of a comprehensive treatment program.
Some alternative health care workers have more confidence that inversion therapy successfully stretches the spine by removing the gravitational pressure on the nerve roots and disks in the spine and increasing the space between vertebrae. Some believe that regular practice combined with other therapies can decrease inflammation, increase circulation, and decompress the spine. Even athletes claim benefits from inversion, especially as a treatment for the effects of high-impact exercise.
While a person seeking lower back pain relief could simply hang upside down in a tree or on jungle-gym bars, that approach is unsafe and impractical for most adults. What can be helpful is an inversion table! The equipment provides a safe method to reap the physical and even mental benefits of inversion therapy.
Why buy an inversion table?
If you’ve read this far, then you must have some interest in the health benefits of inversion therapy. If you want to try it, you should use an official inversion table because it’s 100% safer than hanging upside down using another method, especially because you’ll need to spend more than a few seconds holding the upside-down position. Most, if not every, well-designed inversion table offers a comfortable backrest and headrest, an adjustable ankle-holding system, safety pins, and so on. If you want to go all out on accessories, some inversion tables feature heated back massage!
What should you look for in an inversion table?
- Size: Inversion tables are like other home exercise equipment in that they take up space and are generally awkwardly shaped. You’ll need to have a dedicated open space to use them. The dimensions of inversion tables vary, but larger tables are about 6 feet long by 3 feet wide by 4 feet high, and smaller tables average about 4 feet long by 2 feet wide by 5 feet high. So you should measure the space you have to work with and pay attention to the dimensions listed on product pages. You don’t want to invest in a product only to find it won’t fit in your home!
- Goals: Inversion tables are designed to assist users in reaching specific goals, from sports performance to sciatica treatment, soft tissue stretching, the release of muscle tension through acupressure, or stress relief. Some tables claim to cover a wide range of purposes. It’s important to be clear on what you want from inversion. There’s no reason to put money into a complex design with lots of features when you simply want a way to effortlessly realign and stretch your body.
- Affordability: As with many products, the fancier it is, the pricier it will be. So, the fancier inversion tables made with the highest quality parts or those that are FDA-registered often cost more. But you don’t have to break open the piggy bank to get a decent inversion table. On the high end, inversion tables can run upwards of about $450; on the low end, as little as $130. To stay within your price range, it might help to browse the tables we suggest below, taking note of the features you like, need, and so on.
What do you need to know about the safety of inversion?
To make it clear right out the gate, inversion therapy is not safe for everyone. If you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, or glaucoma, talk with your doctor before attempting inversion therapy. Why? Because in the inverted position, your heartbeat slows, blood pressure increases, as does the pressure in your eyeballs.
However, if you don’t have any of those conditions, you should be able to utilize an inversion table safely. If you’re totally new to inversion, there are several precautionary steps to take to try it out safely. Invert for only 30-40 seconds daily to adjust to the unusual experience of being upside down. From there, gradually increase your time to several minutes. If you’re seeing a physical therapist or chiropractor, they might have an inversion table in the office. Ask to test it out to see if you even like the experience; you’ll also have a professional right at your side, which is nice. If not, find another spotter—someone you trust who can be there as you try it the first few times to assist you if necessary.
Innova Inversion Table
This is a well-designed, no-frills inversion table.
Pros: The Innova table’s ergonomic design is simple and uncluttered; it’s a sturdy, reliable table. Innova’s trademark True Balance System permits easy adjustments to the headrest pad, height, and footrest to achieve the user’s center of gravity. The inversion table also comes with what is called a 6-Angle Pin System, an Innova design. It’s basically a system that allows you to safely move into the angle that’s best for you. It’s kind of like weight machine equipment at the gym. You have to adjust it to your needs—it’s not a one-size-fits-all operation, thank goodness. Typically, you have to pull on a knob to move it and insert the pin on a disc when you’ve found the right angle. This Innova model’s main attraction could be its 300-pound weight capacity.
Cons: You might find the Innova inversion table time-consuming to assemble, bulky when folded, and heavy to move. The quality of the ankle holder and short ankle lock handle can leave something to be desired. With short lock handles, you’ll have to bend down to strap your ankles. Some users won’t appreciate the seemingly complicated systems and might prefer a simpler table.
Bottom Line: The price is certainly right, but you do get what you pay for. While some might find the systems a bit overwhelming, the product itself can be great for beginners, as it’s easy to operate once you get the hang of it.
IRONMAN Gravity Inversion Table
This inversion table is a solid buy for almost any sized body. Just lie back and let gravity do its work.
Pros: IRONMAN went all out when they designed the patent-pending AIRSOFT technology of this inversion table, a design that allows air to flow in through the ankle holder foam to fit your legs and ankles without a pinch. Users can use the palm-activated SURELOCK, an adjustable ratchet tooth mechanism, to both be safe and feel safe when inverting. It unsurprisingly holds a great deal of weight (up to 350 pounds) and height, too (up to 6 feet, 6 inches). It’s an IRONMAN, after all. But it’s also streamlined and simple, which may make it more attractive to some users. It allows users to fully invert to 180 degrees, and it’s foldable for storage.
Cons: Some might find the inversion table lacking massage modes and multiple adjustable features. Some users might discover that the memory foam and vinyl-covered backrest causes a sweaty back. Also, at about 80 pounds, it can be difficult to move around.
Bottom Line: There’s no need to fear going upside down for the first time. Rest assured, IRONMAN has your safety in mind. The palm-activated, adjustable ratchet ankle lock system gives users an element of control. The design allows for full inversion, which is a quality not found in all inversion tables. It’s great for athletes and non-athletes alike. It has the highest weight capacity out there, safely supporting up to 350 pounds. It’s a bit of an investment, but if you have the money, the IRONMAN is worth the price.
Teeter FitSpine X3 Inversion Table
Approved by the FDA, this inversion table is designed for ultimate safety and ergonomic comfort.
Pros: The Teeter FitSpine inversion table holds a lot of status as being a trustworthy product, as it’s registered as a Class 1 Medical Device with the FDA. Teeter’s patented design offers tons of features to go beyond the simple traction of the spine. The three steps for operating the inversion table are marked right on the adjustment tube: 1) Set the height, 2) Set the angle, 3) Lock the ankles. You can press the traction handles to add manual decompression and add the lumbar bridge for a deeper stretch. The system locks out at 180 degrees, so users can stretch and hang safely. Additional qualities include the heavy-duty steel frame and 30-day “try before you buy” offering.
Cons: The long list of patented features can be a chore to sort through for some users. Sometimes simple is good, even best. The table weighs about 65 pounds and can be difficult to lift and move. The Teeter is on the expensive side, though it’s definitely not the most expensive option out there.
Bottom Line: The Teeter FitSpine inversion table is a great buy for users who appreciate its Class 1 Medical Device registration with the FDA, advanced safety systems, and those who will take advantage of the free Teeter Move app. There, users also have access to a series geared toward improving mobility, strength, and flexibility. Compared to other inversion tables on the market, the Teeter FitSpine inversion table has the best and most features and functions. But will you use them? That’s the question.
Innova Heat and Massage Inversion Table
This inversion table takes the benefits of inversion to a whole new level with the built-in adjustable heated massage pad.
Pros: It seems that Innova’s goal with their heat and massage Inversion table is to provide the most comfortable inversion experience, and they do it with the addition of heat and massage! To use it, you lie on the spinal heat massage bed and set the heat and massage modes from both manual and preprogrammed settings. The adjustable height and headrest produce a two-way experience for users to find their center of gravity. There’s also an angle-slot six-pin safety system for altering the angle of the handlebars. Speaking of bars, Innova included an extended adjustment bar to control the ergonomic ankle holding system. The table can safely be used by individuals up to 300 pounds and as tall as 6 feet, 6 inches.
Cons: While the vertical massage pad covers the entire spine, it doesn’t cover the neck and shoulder area. That’s unfortunate because the neck and shoulder are connected to the spine and deserve massage while they undergo inversion. The remote control might be difficult to select heat and massage modes with during use.
Bottom Line: With great features like heat and massage, the Innova inversion table is in a class of its own. The flexibility of choosing among massage and heat modes and the option not to activate those settings gives users ultimate control over their inversion experience. The heavy-duty steel structure will deliver a smooth and steady performance. The extended adjustment bar is great, as it allows you to adjust the ankle holding system without having to bend over.
Body Vision Deluxe Inversion Table
This nifty inversion table has four heavy-duty steel legs for safe and reliable use.
Pros: Adjustability is a nice characteristic to have in just many things, including this inversion table. There’s adjustable lumbar support to cushion different parts of the back, neck, and shoulders. Its ankle support system entails four adjustable foam leg rollers to avoid pinching the calves. You can also select the degree to which you want to invert for even more adjustability. And using the height selector rod, you can modify the table to accommodate your body size; it holds people 5 feet, 1 inch to 6 feet, 6 inches tall with a 250-pound weight capacity. Plus, the Body Vision table is foldable for storage.
Cons: The height and weight limits are more restricted than some other models. The table degree of inversion doesn’t allow for full inversion. That could be a major drawback for individuals who want the full experience. Some users might find the table to be a bit wobbly and difficult to assemble.
Bottom Line: The Body Vision Deluxe sure offers a lot of adjustable features! It seems like the intention behind the design is to provide as many adjustments as possible to achieve comfort and safety. Plus, it’s foldable for storage.
As noted previously, inversion isn’t for everyone. It’s not medically safe for some individuals, and it might not be a pleasurable experience for all users. Though medical professionals might not substantiate inversion therapy as a sure-fire long-term solution for poor spinal health, many swear by the benefits of using an inversion table. It can alleviate pain in the back, shoulders, and neck, at least temporarily. With such a variety of designs and features across brands and models, those interested can surely find a quality inversion table that does the job and then some.