What is Inversion Therapy
Inversion therapy is an age old technique that has been modified to reflect modern medicine. The purpose of inversion therapy is to overcome the effects of gravity. Both gravity and muscle imbalance cause the vertebrae to compress causing pressure on the discs. Due to our normal daily activities taking place while we are sitting or standing, gravity is an occurrence that we can’t avoid. Our natural healing process occurs while we sleep, therefore, there is some relief to the effects of gravity on our spine, however it is short lived given that when we awaken, the force of gravity starts all over again.
One of the most serious forms of treatment for back pain and neck pain is inversion therapy. This method of treatment involves the patient hanging upside down or suspended at an inverted angle and is a form of traction.
Conditions Treated Through Inversion Therapy
This treatment is known to be effective for conditions of the spine, however it is also used to stretch muscles and ligaments and improve circulation. Motion sickness and stress has also been treated with inversion therapy and one’s inner balance is said to be restored. It is known to be very therapeutic.
Gravity has been described as a downward force that pulls all toward earth’s center. Because inversion therapy overcomes gravity, the effect is one that allows for decompression on the spine. By using inversion therapy, the short term effect is the lengthening of the spine.
The reason inversion therapy for spine conditions has proven to be effective, is due to the relief of pressure on the discs and nerve roots. This allows for the disc to recover lost moisture, regain its shape and thus result in decreased pressure on both the discs and nerves. The space between discs is regained by the muscles losing their tension.
Posture is important in ensuring proper alignment of the spine. Inversion therapy can assist in restoring and maintaining good posture.
Flexibility can also be improved with inversion therapy. When the space in the joints is increased, there is greater flexibility. In pursuing this form of treatment, there is stretching which allows for increase in space, hence the increase in flexibility.
Blood flow is improved due to inversion therapy stimulating circulation and increasing oxygen flow.
Who Shouldn’t Consider Inversion Therapy
Those who suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma or are pregnant should not attempt to use this form of treatment as they are at risk for any danger that could result with inversion therapy.
Due to the pressure and increased blood flow to the head during inversion therapy, those suffering with any of the above conditions are at risk and should avoid this form of treatment.
How Does Inversion Therapy Work
By supporting the ankles, the patient is suspended upside down. This allows for gravity to “fall to the centre of the earth” or in terms of treating and relieving spine conditions, the discs and nerve roots are decompressed by allowing gravity to take effect.
If the patient is not suspended upside down, another form of inversion therapy is to use an inversion table specially designed for this treatment. It basically follows the same principle, however rather than being suspended by the patient’s ankles, the patient is in a more relaxed state or position and the table is gradually tilted or tipped downward (at the head end of the table). There are other inversion machines available for this form of treatment, however the inversion table is the more commonly used.
Inversion Exercises that can be done while on an inversion table are sit-ups or crunches. Extending the legs and/or arms will also improve flexibility by stretching your muscles. When our muscles are warmed and stretched, the flexibility improves and disc space can be restored.