Inversion therapy is a useful practice for chiropractic patients. Using an inversion table assists in alleviating spinal compression and can help reduce back pain as well as offer users a way to exercise abdominal muscles. However, as with any medical treatment, there are certain risks associated with the use of an inversion table.
Inversion tables can be used in a chiropractor's office or purchased for home use. An inversion table works by having the user place the feet in stirrups and slowly tipping back until the user is partially or completely inverted. Used properly, inversion tables present little risk, although caution should always be exercised.
An inversion table should not be used for longer than 20 to 30 minutes at a time in one day, due to the risk of increased blood pressure. Those taking blood thinners or using aspirin therapy should avoid using inversion tables due to the risks associated with changes in blood flow caused by inversion.
Muscle pain can also result from improper use of an inversion table; follow all directions given by a doctor when using an inversion table.
Pregnant women, those suffering from glaucoma and those who have experienced recent spinal injuries should all avoid using inversion therapy.
One common misconception about the use of inversion tables is that one must hang at an extreme angle to get the full benefit of the inversion; in fact, it is damaging to muscles and fitness to do too much too soon. When first using an inversion table, starting with gentle angles is the best way to receive the full health benefits.
Inversion Tables and Stroke
There was speculation that using an inversion table could contribute to strokes. The media reported the risks, but studies on the use of inversion tables found no evidence to support the speculation. Research done at universities including Marquette, Iowa and Portland showed that using an inversion table will not increase the risk of a stroke in users. However, those with high or uncontrollable blood pressure should be cautious when using an inversion table.
As with any form of fitness or wellness equipment, inversion tables should be used with supervision and an eye to caution; whether used at a doctor's office or in the home, the table should be checked to ensure that it is being used properly and is in working order.
Those who plan on using an inversion table should discuss it with their doctor to be sure that they are sufficiently healthy and will not experience an unhealthy increase in blood pressure or other complications after or during inversion.