Technically, the gravity inversion table uses the force of gravity to heal spinal abnormalities and ease back pain. Theoretically speaking, being inverted for a minimal amount of time can help not only in treating back problems but in improving blood circulation, de-stressing the body, decompressing the vertebrae (which when left unmanaged, might lead to herniated or slipped disc) and ultimately, in strengthening the cardiovascular muscles.
The list of beneficial claims goes on, but before you jump onto a gravity inversion table to partake of the benefits, you should know first how this piece of therapeutic equipment works.
The Gravity Inversion Table
Although called tables, many of them can take the form of reclining chairs that can extend to comfortably cover the whole body, guiding its way to a totally inverted method of therapeutic experience.
Many older models of gravity inversion tables are capable of turning a full 360 degrees, but newer models only recline for up to 90 degrees which just enough for anyone to enjoy the benefits while minimizing health risks as well as risks of accidents.
When the user is inverted, the force of gravity causes lumbar traction of the spinal column, exerting sufficient force to loosen spinal discs that might be causing pain and discomfort. This happens while relaxing compressed muscles that might be causing back pain. Depending on the specification of each gravity inversion table model, the weight capacity will differ.
According to consumer studies, the use of gravity inversion tables has dozens of health benefits—from relieving medical conditions of excruciating symptoms to developing flexibility and agility. The latter is certainly the main reason why many athletes include the use of inversion tables in their training regimes.
The real difference between a gravity inversion table and all other therapeutic equipment is their additional tether strap and gravity boots facility. Tether straps and gravity boots allow the users to literally hang upside down to apply more traction on the vertebrae and back muscles, thus taking full advantage of the force of gravity by incorporating it into the whole therapy process.
In some Asian countries, a gravity inversion table is used not only to alleviate medical conditions but also to aid in increasing a person's height by way of disc expansion. Using them for this purpose has brought to light many safety concerns and is not recommended.
The sturdier gravity inversion table can also double as a piece of fitness equipment, being an optimal companion in abdominal workouts and core strengthening routines. As the name implies, a gravity inversion table is not the usual equipment for inversion therapy. Rather, they take full advantage of gravity’s force in improving health, stamina, and physical form.
The Gravity Inversion Table: Potential Health Risks
As claimed, the benefits of using a gravity inversion table are overwhelmingly impressive. Aside from being a non-invasive, non-drug treatment, it is also becoming a popular piece of workout equipment for professionals and ordinary health-conscious people alike.
However, as inversion table therapy remains an alternative treatment, the medical community often warns users of some of the possible dangers of regular usage.
Some people can be particularly prone to some of these dangers. It is therefore strongly emphasised that you should always consult with your doctor, or other suitably qualified medical professional, before considering using a gravity inversion table.
The list below shows some health risks that can be associated with using gravity inversion tables.
1. Damage to the eyes
When in an inverted position, the pressure also increases in the eye, putting you in danger of developing permanent visual problems and aggravating existing medical conditions. Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachments can worsen as the increased pressure takes a toll on your eyes’ veins. These veins can also rupture (because of damaged blood vessels), resulting in blindness.
2. Abnormality of blood circulation
As many gravity inversion table manufacturers claim benefits to blood circulation, this very same device can ironically also cause problems on an already stable blood flow, particularly to the head and heart.
Because of changes in the blood flow whenever the device is being used, blood pressure abnormalities may also develop, ultimately taking a toll on your heart. Because blood flow stability is also important for pregnant women, gravity inversion tables should also not be used lest the fetus will receive insufficient blood circulation from the mother.
The health risk can even double when you are on a blood thinning drug like warfarin or aspirin.
3. Breakage of the bones
Using gravity inversion tables can be really beneficial to the vertebrae, but when the bones are already suffering a medical condition that naturally weakens them such as osteoporosis, kidney problems, and bone cancer or undergoing a period of healing from surgeries, any amount of additional pressure can easily break your bones.
Inversion tables in general are not recommended for people experiencing similar cases.
4. Middle ear infection
There is only a small chance of developing middle ear infection due to abnormal blood flow, but those who already have this condition can experience a worsened state and immediate disorientation during and every after use of gravity inversion tables.
5. Joint inflammation
Controlled inversion therapy can relieve pain and discomfort of ligaments and joints. However, for some people, the effects are exactly the opposite. Joints and ligaments get worse and more serious inflammation problems may arise.
6. A fatal fall
Hanging upside down (and rotated for some models of gravity inversion tables) can lead to a deadly fall when the device is not fully capable of supporting you, when wrong practices are applied, or when too much spin is used. If you do want to invert, you should therefore only ever consider using a quality inversion table.
Aside from the known health risks of using a gravity inversion table, obese people, people with ventral hernias, and stroke patients are also being warned against the use of this device, including tether straps and gravity boots.
As mentioned above, it is strongly recommended that before you even consider using gravity inversion tables, you consult a doctor or other suitably qualified medical professional.
When buying a gravity inversion table, it is better to invest in the total package that can do more than just invert and recline. Gravity can be a friendly force that, when used optimally, can make living even more healthy and comfortable.