Are Inversion Tables for You? Here’s What to Know

Dr. Adrian Pujayana

I’LL begin with my conclusion and tell you that I love inversion tables, but they’re not for everyone. An inversion table is an apparatus that braces your body by the ankles as you lay on a surface that can pivot upside down, causing you to hang in a controlled manner.

Inversion tables are intended to stretch out your spine using gravitational force. As you hang upside down by your ankles, lots of things happen that can be helpful to your spinal mechanics:

Gravity separates your intervertebral space, giving your discs a chance to “breathe.’’

Nutrients and fluids interchange and normalize disc pressure.

Disc pressure and possibly nerve pressure is relieved.

Vertebral motion can be improved and function enhanced.

Sounds great, but there are some caveats. The above benefits do not affect every person the same way, nor does an inversion table affect every spinal joint the same way:

Effects are temporary, but still therapeutic.

Lumbar (lower back region) is affected more than mid-back or neck.

Blood flow to the head can be uncomfortable.

More is not always better. Sessions that last too long can cause irritation to the spine instead of benefit.

Inversion can irritate acute symptoms. If your body is experiencing pain and inflammation, going upside down can be contraindicated and overstretch spastic muscles and ligaments.

Last but not least, inversion tables take up a lot of room. It takes regular use of the inversion table to be effective, and it’s not a guarantee of resolving deeper issues such as disc herniations and spinal arthritis.

Inversion therapies could be an appropriate addition to spinal health for someone experiencing chronic spinal pain and dysfunction. Additional spinal-health care should include not just continued physical-therapy routines, but a strength-and-conditioning regimen as well.

Manual therapies such as massage therapy and manipulation therapy have been shown to be significant in managing spinal disorders. Remember that there is no “magic bullet” when it comes to managing chronic spinal conditions. Use gravity to your advantage, and more important, use your head!

Dr. Adrian Pujayana has been providing drug-free solutions for health and wellness to adults, athletes and youth since 2000 through his private practice at Family Chiropractic Center of South Pasadena, a place for strength training and nutrition-based health care. For comments or questions, email him at