Inverted exercise machines allow you to perform your workout while hanging upside down. Without gravity pulling you down, your standard crunches, situps and squats will allow you to work your muscles differently. Inversion therapy is not for everyone, particularly if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant, but inversion can benefit your upper-body muscles, joints and lower back.
The principle behind inversion therapy is that by hanging upside down you can free your muscles, joints and circulatory system from the downward pull of gravity. Your blood will rush to your upper body, your joints will release the tension built up from supporting your body weight and the vertebrae in your spine will loosen just enough to provide relief to compressed nerves and disks. Inversion exercises include many standard calisthenic and weightlifting standards such as situps, crunches, squats and extensions, which when performed upside down have different stresses and weight loads. For those with chronic back pain, many of these exercises would be impossible without an inversion table.
Inversion machines or tables are exercise equipment designed to flip the user upside down. Resembling ironing boards, these tables require you to strap your feet or ankles into place at one end of the board, then move the table until your head is below your feet. These machines can adjust the depth and angle of your inversion. Some are operated manually, and others rotate the table using a motor. Depending on the make, size and features of the machine, at the time of publication they generally range in cost between $150 and $1,000.
Inversion machines can help you gain better circulation, as your upper body is flushed with oxygen-rich blood. They can also reduce chronic back pain and help restore proper alignment to the spine, as inversion stretches out the vertebrae in your back, relieving gravity's steady downward pressure on the spine. Additionally, your muscles, joints and ligaments, particularly in your upper body, can get a much different workout than they would normally, leading to stronger and more flexible tissues.
Although inversion machines can provide temporary relief from chronic back pain, no study has shown that the results are permanent. But they may be useful when combined with a more comprehensive treatment plan. Your blood pressure will rise after a few minutes of hanging upside down. If you have high blood pressure, a history of heart disease or other cardiovascular problems or are pregnant, inversion therapy is probably not for you. Additionally, inversion can cause pressure to build up behind your eyes, so if you suffer from glaucoma or other eye ailments, consult your doctor before starting an inversion exercise program.
Todd Maternowski began writing in 1996 as one of the co-founders of "The Chicago Criterion." He joined the local online news revolutionaries at Pegasus News in 2006, where he continues to work to this day. He studied religion at the University of Chicago.