The 10 Best Inversion Tables
What Separates a Good Inversion Table From a Great One?
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.
Any top-of-the-line inversion table needs to be well-anchored.
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.
This is challenging, which is why it makes sense to build up incrementally, strengthening your obliques and lower-back along the way.
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.
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.
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.