The 10 Best Inversion Tables
This wiki has been updated 35 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you suffer from back problems, you'll fall head over heels for these inversion tables. They can provide a decompressive stretch to relieve minor discomfort, and some offer infrared heat therapy technology and vibration massages, too, to assist with other bodily aches and pains. For your safety, be sure to check with your doctor to see if this type of activity is right for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 22, 2020:
Inversion table therapy is said to help alleviate the pain associated with many conditions such as degenerative disc disease, arthritis, tendonitis, spinal stenosis, and poor posture. Devices like yoga headstand benches and the inversion tables featured here can help boost blood circulation to the spine and various joints, which can assist in healing. Today we added the Teeter FitSpine LX9 to the list, a premium model with plenty of features that provide both security and comfort. For starters, its extra-long, aerospace-grade stainless steel ankle lock handle ensures easy securing without your having to bend too far to reach it, which proves helpful for back pain sufferers. Its eight-point floating suspension system moves with you for a good range of motion, and it allows for better decompression. Its adjustable acupressure nodes help with trigger-point release, while the lumbar bridge supports and provides traction for the lower back. Handhold bars allow for added stretching options. This model replaces the Merax Ultra, which essentially bears the same design as the Health Gear Advanced, with its heated and vibrating removable massage pad.
For some alternative choices from a reputable brand, look to the Innova Fitness ITX9600 and the Innova ITM5900, both of which sport long, wide backrests and ergonomic curved handles, the latter of which also comes with a handy remote control that lets you choose from among the various heat and massage settings throughout your session. For a highly stable selection with rubber floor stabilizers, consider the Ironman Gravity 4000, which also incorporates a scratch-resistant powder coating and protective vinyl panels on the sides.
No matter which model catches your eye, ensure it’s assembled properly. When in doubt, have a professional do the chore for you. For many of the selections, you can add on an expert assembly option. Before you begin to practice inversion therapy, be sure to ask your doctor if this activity is right for you. Your physician may rule it out if you suffer from conditions like cardiovascular disorders, high blood pressure, an increased risk of stroke, or spondylolisthesis. Those who are pregnant should not use an inversion table. Take the time to read your inversion table’s user manual carefully for the proper guidelines and step-by-step instructions. Start out gradually by not inverting for more than one minute at a moderate angle.
May 22, 2019:
Joining the selection in this update is the Innova ITM5900, which offers highly adjustable headrest and height options. You’ll appreciate the comfortable pad that covers the entire spine well, including the lumbar curve. It provides a soft vibration massage with heat, all of which is controllable with the handy, included remote panel. Its ergonomic ankle system ensures an inversion that’s both comfortable and secure.
The Health Mark Pro Max remained high on the list, thanks in part to its versatility, in that it enables you to lie either face down or up. Unlike many others, it’s strong enough to hold a very large amount of weight, at 600 pounds. What’s more, it’s comfortable to use, with a thick, foam-padded back support, as well as ample rolled supports for the thighs and knees.
In addition, in this update we removed the Pure Fitness 8514IT due to its lack of availability.
For your safety, be sure to have your inversion table assembled properly. (Note that many of the selections come with an expert assembly option.) In addition, always ask your doctor in advance if this type of activity is suitable for you.
What Separates a Good Inversion Table From a Great One?
These tables are expensive, and they can be high-maintenance, but ultimately, it is up to the consumer to determine whether the potential benefits might justify the cost.
First and foremost, any great inversion table needs to be able to adjust based on a person's size, and it also needs to be able to adjust (and lock in) to specific angles. Rudimentary tables can only sit upright, or flip upside-down. This limits a table in that dangling at a specific angle could hold the key to healing certain muscle issues. Adjusting a table is also critical to doing exercises that can strengthen a person's abs, lower-back, obliques, and torso.
Any top-of-the-line inversion table needs to be well-anchored. That could mean having a weighted base that forbids the table from being knocked over, and it could mean purchasing a model that is designed to be bolted into the floor. The bottom line is that any owner is going to be relying on this piece of equipment to support him or her while dangling upside-down. With that in mind, it's worth pursuing an inversion table that features soft-grip handrails, as opposed to 3" handles. Rubberized rails are an essential part of controlling the speed at which a table flips around.
Specialists may recommend an inversion table that features a flattened board for patients who are experiencing a very specific type of pain (e.g., sciatic nerve, etc.) By and large, however, any high-grade inversion table should probably feature an ample amount of padding. There are select tables that offer features like infrared heat therapy or a vibrating mode (for massage). These tables are expensive, and they can be high-maintenance, but ultimately, it is up to the consumer to determine whether the potential benefits might justify the cost.
Inversion 101: A Handful of Exercises For Beginners
Most people associate an inversion table with some form of back therapy, which is accurate. The simple act of lying on an inversion table has been shown to provide significant relief for several muscle groups throughout the spine. And yet in reality, mitigating pain is just a jumping-off point. People can also use an inversion table to build muscle mass, thereby strengthening several areas that can bolster the core.
Hold for 10 seconds, and then bring yourself back into a standing position.
Start with some stretching. Every day before you recline on an inversion table, cross your legs and lean down, allowing your fingers to dangle freely. Hold for 10 seconds, and then bring yourself back into a standing position. Over the course of several days, you're likely to notice that your fingers start dangling lower. The ultimate goal is to have your fingers touch your toes.
Once you're positioned on the table, grip the handles while remaining upright. Slowly bend your knees up toward your waist. Hold. Release. Repeat. As you become more comfortable with this exercise, which is known as the captain's chair, you can begin to increase the difficulty level by adjusting the angle (or inversion) of the table.
If you want to work your upper-body, invert the table, and then attempt to pull your shoulders forward with the eventual goal being to complete several reps that peak with your torso sitting perpendicular to your waist (envision a capital L). This is challenging, which is why it makes sense to build up incrementally, strengthening your obliques and lower-back along the way.
Once you really get going, you can take a shot at some inverted sit-ups. Bend your legs while lying on the inverted table. Clasp your hands behind your head and bring your torso all the way up to your knees. After the peak of every rep, recline ever-so-slowly until your back rest flat along the board. You'll know you're in great shape if you can do anything more than five of these.
A Brief History of Inversion Therapy
Hippocrates, a Greek physician who is often referred to as the Father of Medicine, started using inversion therapy to set bones and correct spinal injuries as early as 400 B.C.E. According to record, Hippocrates designed a flat bench that featured restraints for binding patients' limbs. Once a patient was locked in, Hippocrates would stretch the restraints by way of wenches, thereby re-aligning the bones, while decompressing several of the muscles in the back.
Gravity Guidance was a form of inversion therapy that was centered around a futuristic-looking table and its accompanying pair of boots.
Ironically, Hippocrates' bench would eventually provide the impetus for a medieval torture device that is known as The Rack. Torture notwithstanding, the inversion bench remained popular as a form of treatment until the Middle Ages, at which point physicians began replacing it by dangling their patients upside-down from a wall.
Modern inversion therapy took a major turn during the 1960s, when a California chiropractor named Robert Martin introduced what he called his "Gravity Guidance System." Gravity Guidance was a form of inversion therapy that was centered around a futuristic-looking table and its accompanying pair of boots. Martin was a great pitchman, and several other companies began to mimic his products. The inversion market still didn't experience any breakout success until Richard Gere appeared wearing a pair of Gravity Boots during the 1980 movie, American Gigolo.
During the 1990s, inversion therapy came under fire based on claims that dangling upside-down could result in significant health risks, including blood clots and the possibility of a stroke. Proponents of inversion therapy dismissed these claims as being unfounded. Today, those proponents have grown to include the U.S. Military, which uses inversion therapy as an effective means of treating back pain.