Inversion Table Buying Guide
The rise of complementary and alternative (and integrative) medicine in the last few decades has been unprecedented. Be it chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga, massage, or inversion therapy; it is becoming common knowledge that pills and surgery aren’t a one-size-fits-all answer to all health issues.
Stay with us as we explore inversion tables; the amazing health benefits they offer; and how to go about purchasing one that would serve you well.
An Introduction to Inversion Tables
What is an inversion table?
An inversion table is, well, a table with a flat padded top attached to its legs (frame) by hinges. The inversion table top has ankle cushioned braces to enable you strap in. While the hinges allow the tabletop (you, when strapped in) to swivel up and down, taking you to or from an inverted position.
Inversion tables also have mechanisms to adjust the tabletop’s length for people of varying heights as well as to adjust the angle of inversion.
Although the designs and feature sets of inversion tables differ, their modes of operation (inverting on hinges) and function are mostly the same.
History of inversion tables
So, whose idea was it to build this contraption?
None other than Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. Granted, he used a ladder, which isn’t as svelte as a modern inversion table; but isn’t that also true of most modern devices invented eons ago?
While Hippocrates might get credit for inventing the inversion table, the therapeutic use of inversion predates him. The earliest reference of the use of inversion therapy dates to 3000 BC. Inscribed on ancient stone seals were drawings of inverted yoga poses.
Supporting texts in ancient literature attest to yogis extolling the use of inverted poses to:
- stimulate the brain
- re-balance the body
- help enhance circulation
- help enhance the glandular system
- help mitigate pressure on the abdominal organs
Inversion Table Reviews
|Model||Weight Capacity||Height Range||Dimensions||Product Weight||Foldable||Price|
|300 lbs||4'8" - 6"6"||84" x 29" x 86"||74 lbs||Yes||
Ironman Gravity 4000
|350 lbs||4'10" - 6'6"||49" x 26" x 65"||76 lbs||Yes||
|300 lbs||4'10" - 6'6"||46" x 28" x 63"||52 lbs||Yes||
Health Mark Pro Max
|600 lbs||4'10" - 6'6"||58" x 28" x 45"||120 lbs||No||
Ironman IFT 4000
|350 lbs||4'10" - 6'6"||80" x 26" x 17"||75 lbs||Yes||
|300 lbs||4'8" - 6'6"||84" x 29" x 86"||58 lbs||Yes||
Health Gear ITM 5500
|300 lbs||5’1” - 6’5”||60" x 27" x 50"||56 lbs||Yes||
|300 lbs||5’1”-6’6”||51" x 28" x 59"||57 lbs||Yes||
|300 lbs||4'10" - 6'3"||59" x 26" x 47"||63 lbs||Yes||
|300 lbs||4'10" - 6'6"||47" x 27" x 42"||51 lbs||Yes||
|300 lbs||4'10" - 6'6"||46" x 27" x 57"||54 lbs||Yes||
Inversion therapy: How does an inversion table work?
Basic anatomy of your spine
If you flex your neck (such that your chin touches the top of your chest) and run your fingers down the back of your neck, you’d notice a protrusion at the base of the neck (at just about the point where the neck joins the rest of the body).
A bone in your spine called a vertebra makes that protrusion. Your spine (vertebral column) is essentially a stack of multiple (33 to be exact) vertebrae separated by cushions called [intervertebral] disks. Sure, the spine is a lot complex as it has its own network of ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, and what not. But let’s keep it simple.
Now, when you carry out any activity that involves your spine (say walking or lifting), the disks help in movement and absorb shock. But excessive, repeated strain due to various reasons; such as poor posture, bumpy travels, or high-stress exercise; can exert pressure on and cause compression of these disks.
This compression can cause pain, especially if it leads to a slipped disk that in turn compresses a spinal nerve.
Inversion therapy, and by extension an inversion table, helps reverse (or at least halt) the pressure on and compression of the disks. You could incline to an angle to relax your vertebrae or invert near-completely (head down and leg up) to enable gravity put traction on your spine in reverse (stretching your spine and its related joints, muscles, and ligaments in the opposite direction), thereby decompressing your intervertebral disks and relieving pain.
Getting more out of your inversion table
Furthermore, you could engage in select inversion exercises while inverted to gain even more benefits.
Also, you could take this to the next level by employing the principle of an accordion effect. Put simply, while on an inversion table, you could rock your body in a horizontal plane (up and down like you’re on a seesaw). This oscillatory motion will:
- help spread the fluid around the disk,
- help expel waste, and
- expectedly take pressure off your spine
19 remarkable benefits of using an inversion table
f you’re considering an inversion table purchase, then you’ve prolly done the maths regarding investing in one versus heading off to your chiropractor whenever you need inversion therapy. The former is cheaper and more convenient (doubly so if you get a foldable model that you could easily shuttle).
That said, the only other benefit of owning an inversion table you may be privy to is that it helps with select back (or spinal) health issues.
Thing is, an inversion table offers many more benefits, and we list some of the best-known benefits in this sub-section.
- Alleviates joint pressure;
- Alleviates nerve pressure and static nerve pain
- Alleviates back pain
- Decompresses and facilitates moisture and nutrient absorption in the intervertebral disks
- Reduces the need for spinal surgery
- Improves circulation
- Improves the lymphatic system
- Helps boost the immune system
- Improves range of motion and flexibility
- Helps alleviate stress
- Alleviates muscle spasm
- Helps improve and maintain proper posture
- Helps clear the sinuses
- Helps enhance easier breathing
- Helps strengthen the ligaments and bones
- Helps increase energy and reduce fatigue
- Helps enhance sleep quality
- Helps combat depression, mood swing, and SAD
- Helps improve and maintain fitness levels
Medical conditions you can use an inversion table for
An inversion table isn’t going to be a magic pill to eliminate diseases. But it will help in dealing with symptoms, signs, and pain caused by certain spinal conditions.
- Back pain
- Kidney stones
- Spinal degenerative joint disease
- Muscle tension
- Degenerative disk disease
- Herniated disk
- Facet syndrome
- Spinal stenosis
Is an inversion table risky?
For the most part, using an inversion table is risk-free. When starting out, you may experience some muscle strain, dizziness, or a slight headache. But it’s only your body getting used to the process. Using it a few minutes at a time and at low inclinations would speed up the acclimatization.
This is down to the fact that when the table inverts your body, blood flow to your head increases. And this will expectedly push up blood pressure to a higher, but usually, manageable level. As well as exert some pressure in your head and eyes. This isn’t much different from your heart rate shooting up if you take a quick lap around your block.
Therefore, like sauna and many other overly beneficial therapies, everyone’s body would not adapt favorably to the use of inversion tables. While most of our bodies can adjust quickly to the slight increase in pressure, individuals with certain conditions relating to blood circulation, eyes, and ears may have a hard time coping. These conditions include:
- High blood pressure or other cardiovascular (heart-related) conditions
- Glaucoma, retinal detachment or other eye diseases or infections
- Ear infections
Furthermore, you may want to stave off using an inversion table if you’re:
- Use blood clotting medications
- Predisposed to getting dizzy or developing vertigo fairly easily
Are inversion tables effective?
Yes. Provided you temper your expectations accordingly.
An inversion table is not a “magic pill” or “cure” for all spine or back issues. Inversion therapy is one of a few tried and tested complementary therapies that offer much-needed, desirable relief; and helps in the management of several spinal conditions.
When combined with a tailored traditional treatment plan, healthy diet, and exercises; you would notice substantial improvement. The degree of improvement observed would of course not be the same for everyone either. Type of condition, frequency of use, supplementing with inversion exercises are a few factors that can influence the effectiveness of inversion tables.
Talking about inversion exercises, we heartily recommend doing them to push the envelope.
This video should get you started.
There are a few other inversion table exercise videos on YouTube as well.
Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Inversion Table
If you want to unlock the numerous, priceless benefits of using an inversion table, you defo want to make certain you’re buying the best inversion table available in the first place. All inversion tables are not created equal, and making a choice isn’t as easy as choosing which new iPhone you want to get.
You need to make sure a model ticks the right boxes before you swipe your credit card. Your body will thank you.
1. Construction, Build Quality, and Weight Capacity
Going for an inversion table that is sturdy and has an excellent build sounds like a no-brainer.
But what does “sturdy” and “excellent build” actually imply?
For starters, you want to check out the frame. It must
- be made of high quality, rugged, heavy-duty material that can withstand a lot of stress,
- be built like a tank, and
- be durable
The material that best fits this description for use in manufacturing inversion tables is steel.
It is a better choice than aluminum, plastic, or nylon fabric used by some table manufacturers.
Just as important as a balanced, stable, solid frame is high-end padding to provide you with optimum comfort. You should be particular about the:
- amount of padding; should be sufficiently thick but not overstuffed
- material used for the padding; for instance, memory foam
- areas of the table with padding; back, neck, and head
Additionally, you may want to pay attention to certain easy to miss padding features.
- Some tables have a notchin the head pad that allows you rest face up or down for improved comfort
- In a few other models, the pads may be detachable(removable); to provide more room for carrying out inversion exercises
- Yet others intentionally do not include padding (or have very little), instead opting for a molded or honeycomb mesh
An important question you want a definitive answer for is:
Will ‘X inversion table’ support my body weight?
Virtually all inversion tables have a maximum weight capacity or limit. For most of them, this limit is 300 pounds. Several Ironman models reputably have a 350 pounds capacity. You want to be sure of the capacity before you splurge on an inversion table.
That said, you also want to confirm the maximum and minimum heights supported.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to consider storage. If you’ve got sufficient real estate, say a gym, to keep it set-up perpetually, good on you. As portability may not be a big deal for you.
But if you’ve got limited space or you reckon you’d need to move it around often (say between home and work), you may want to invest in a model that you can put away or transport easily.
2. Safety, Range of Motion, and Ease of Use
Clamps (straps or restraints)
The bulk of an inversion table’s safety rests on the sturdiness and reliability of its ankle restraints.
You practically secure yourself to the table using these clamps; therefore, you should pay extra attention to the type of restraint present (usually either a bar or adjustable strap type), what they are made of, and how comfy they’d be on your ankles.
How much leeway does an inversion table offer? You’d want to know. Especially if you’d be doing way more than just lying in an inverted position (a la inversion exercises).
You want a table that allows you to invert completely, and move up and down easily. Some models allow you to control movement manually, but there’s very little reason not to go for a more convenient, motorized high-end model that allows motion at the push of a button if your budget allows.
Ease of use
An overly complicated inversion table isn’t a good buy. You should find it easy to strap in, get inverted to a preferable angle, do a range of exercises, and get off without it feeling like rocket science.
Granted, new users may need an extra hand. But this is to calm agitated nerves at first, and ideally, you should be able to use a table by yourself without any help.
Staying within your budget is sound financial practice. Buying a low quality, non-durable table that jeopardizes your health and safety to score a few dollars in savings isn’t.
Most inversion tables worth buying have a price tag within the $250 to $500 range. With several noteworthy outliers north of the range and even exceeding the $1000 psychological barrier.
Like with most consumer appliances, added cost translates to additional features. Although, not all additional features are necessary.
That said, there are several quality models at virtually all major price points. Therefore, you should be able to stay within budget even if that means forgoing select features (extra padding, massage, motorized controls, et cetera); but still get a sturdy, effective inversion table.
For example, the Innova Fitness ITX9600, one of the bestselling and top-reviewed models from a leading brand, can be had for a really low price.
4. Additional Functionalities
These are the extra bells and whistles found in premium models. The list is increasing steadily, with some of the favorites including:
- vibration pads
- infrared ultra-thin heating
- anti-slippery pads
- lumbar support or bridge
- soft-padded or memory foams
- acupressure nodes
Several of these add-on features offer immense value, and getting the one (or those) you fancy typically boils down to how far you can push your budget.
Brands like Teeter, Ironman, and Innova dominate the inversion table market, and for good reason. Over the years, they have proven themselves to be committed to improved build quality, customer safety, and innovation.
Most products from these and other better-known brands often come with verifiable third-party ratings such as UL certifications and SGS tests. For example, the FDA and Health Canada cleared and approved some Teeter models as Class 1 medical devices.
You are unlikely to get this unrivaled combination of excellent quality, decades-long commitment to safety, and exceptional customer satisfaction with most newer, obscure brands. Unsurprisingly, these newer brands make up for it with bargain-basement products that aren’t always cost-effective.
Therefore, it pays to exercise extra caution when checking out a product from a relatively unknown brand. Or when marketing materials seem to be all about a low price. To be clear, the capability of an inversion table should be the primary focus and competitive pricing should be icing on the cake.
Amazon has an amazing return policy, so if for some reason an ordered table falls short of your expectations or you get a lemon, you can return it quickly without hassle.
However, what happens if after a few weeks or months, the table starts to fall apart? You’d want a customer-centric brand that wouldn’t screw you over by denying you coverage, that makes you want to pull your hair out in frustration because of lackluster communication, or that asks for obscene out-of-pocket repair fees.
Your inversion table isn’t a $20 Oster Food Steamer. It is a three-figure purchase and you simply can’t afford to downplay the importance of a decent warranty coverage. In addition, you should look up what others who had issues have to say about the company’s handling of customer complaints and requests.
A ONE (1) year warranty seems to be the industry standard, but some brands offer longer warranties. Teeter leads the pack with an impressive FIVE (5) years warranty.
How to Use an Inversion Table Safely
- Go over the instruction manual intently before you use an inversion table for the first time
- Preferably, have someone with you when using it for the first couple of times until you can safely use it without third-party help
- Set up your inversion table in an area with lots of open space to allow safe usage when the table is inverted
- Wear comfy workout clothes
- Wear thick or additional pairs of socks for extra ankle comfort
- When starting out, go easy on the inversion angles. Stay within the 20-60 degree inclination range and get used to it for a while before going full 90-degree inversion.
Inversion Table FAQs
How long and often can I use an inversion table?
Frankly, this isn’t set in stone. The duration and frequency of use are almost entirely up to the user.
Duration: ONE (1) to FIFTEEN (15) minutes at a time; new users should stick to 1-3 minutes at a time for the first week or fortnight
Frequency: ONE (1) to THREE (3) times within a 24-hour period
Routine: Typically after getting up from bed and before you hit the sack. But again, you do not have to follow this religiously. Some users with back pain rave about doing a quick one for relief before engaging in an activity that predisposing them to increased pain (such as gardening).
The takeaway is to use your inversion table as long and as often as your body allows you to. Watch out for unusual prolonged pains and aches, as they may be indications that you’re overstretching your limits.
What should I do while in an inverted position?
You could do nothing and relax. Doing something isn’t a necessity. It is a recommendation to improve the effectiveness (or optimize the benefits) of inversion therapy by combining it with some degree of exercise.
The exercise you engage in could be:
- Light—oscillation(moving your body up and down), head rotation
- Moderate—stretching(could be partial or full and you could use the frame or torso rotation)
- Heavy—crunches, sit-ups, squats
What is the best inclination angle?
The range of inclination angles you can set your inversion table varies between models. However, 20, 30, 60, and 90 degrees are the more common angles. Choosing an angle depends a lot on how familiar you are with an inversion table, what you intend to do while inclined, and personal preference.
When starting out, you should stick to the 20- and 30-degree inclinations. Only progressing as you become more comfortable and your anxiety drops. If you’re a long-time user, then you aren’t limited to specific angles.
If you want to do heavy exercise, such as an inversion sit-up, you’d typically have to go a full 90. You’d get best lumbar decompression results if you set a 60. Heck, if you prefer, you could have the table oscillate.
Should I be concerned when I feel pressure in my head during an inversion session?
No, you shouldn’t be. As long as an inversion table is not contra-indicated for you, the increased pressure is normal and you should be able to cope with it after repeated table use.
Can I use an inversion table while pregnant?
Is there an age limit for using an inversion table?
An inversion table is not useful for kids. For adults, there are no age limits. You can knock yourself out.
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