If you know a bit about the Scientific Period (16th Century) then you may think this post is about medieval torture machines.
But…if you’re a history nerd, then you’ll know that the upside down back stretcher has existed for millennia. It has been around since about 3000 BC, way before the Catholic Church went medieval on the world.
History also tells us that our ancient ancestors used these devices to relieve abdominal pressure, boost circulation and correct poor posture.
You can even do a quick Google search to learn how the Father of Medicine (Hippocrates) would suspend patients using ropes and pulleys. He used stretching and the force of gravity to help his patients.
So what’s the point of all this history mumbo-jumbo?
The point is that these techniques can be beneficial for you and your back.
The Upside Down Back Stretcher For Modern Times
Today, the practice of hanging upside down is known as inversion therapy.
There are devices you can buy to stretch your back and relieve lower back pain. These are called inversion tables or back stretchers.
People use them for a number of ailments such as sciatica, spinal stenosis, scoliosis and herniated discs.
You can also find machines that are similarly designed for core strengthening exercises.
What Is Inversion Therapy?
Inversion therapy is a type of treatment that relies on gravity to prevent or get rid of back pain.
Essentially, the nerves in your body will be subject to the pressures of gravity when you hang from an upside down back stretcher. The inverted position reduces the tension between the vertebrae and nerve endings in your back.
How Does It Work Exactly?
When your body weight is suspended instead of supported by your feet, the only active force left around you is gravity. It pulls you down and helps to decompress all of your joints and limbs.
Hanging by the feet, as with gravity boots or inversion tables, causes each joint in the body to be loaded in an equal and opposite manner to standing in an identical position of joint alignment.
Even NASA studied the effects of zero gravity on astronauts to see its effects on them during take off. This is one of the reasons why astronauts are launched in an inverted position. It’s because the level of compression and gravitational stress has less effect on their bodies during launch.
Similarly, when you use an upside down back stretcher, your skin, muscles and fascia provide most of the support for your body. In the suspended state, they keep your vertebrae and leg bones together (back bone connected to your hip bone), while your other ligaments are subjected to the pulling forces.
Furthermore, many chiropractors and physical therapists recommend inversion therapy to their patients. Since it relieves compression in a patient’s spine and nerves, their herniated discs are able to recover much faster. When they return to their original shape it removes the pressure that was placed on the nerve endings.
Both medical professionals and scientists have found that gradually increasing the intensity and duration of inversion therapy helps patients. This is due to the strengthening effect it has on the body’s ligaments.
Should You Buy An Inversion Table?
This depends on several things. First of all you should meet with your doctor if you have serious back issues. Inversion therapy is just one form of treatment but there are many others available that might be better suited for your ailments.
The next thing to consider is what you’re going to use it for. If you are getting one to de-stress or to prevent future back pain, then you may want to look at several options. Remember, these inversion tables can also be used for getting abs as well.
Finally, you should be cognizant of any other health issues you might have. For instance, if you can’t ride upside down roller coasters or deal with the feeling of being inverted (handstands), then you may want to get a normal back stretcher instead.
There are many people who have benefited from using an upside down back stretcher. As you’ve just discovered, they aren’t anything new. Inversion therapy has existed for millennia.
The only thing you might struggle with now is deciding what to buy. Well don’t worry we’ve got you covered. We’re putting together a helpful guide and will review several inversion tables in the coming weeks. So make sure you sign up and look out for those.