Is an Inversion Table for You?

     There’s been a lot of questions lately on inversion tables (pic below) and whether or not they are a good option for someone with back pain. These tables involve laying on a table with your feet strapped in and then slowly flipping the table over so it’s partially upside down. The decompression that this table offers is the main benefit of using this tool, but is it for everyone? Below is a description of the pros and cons for using this table:
Inversion Table
Inversion Tabe
  • This table can be useful for someone with bulging / herniated discs or those with muscle spasms, as it naturally does provide that traction to decrease intradiscal pressure and stretch the surrounding musculature.
  • I also personally feel that some form of traction is very helpful for a lot of athletes that undergo frequent compression, such as those participating in heavy weightlifting or running.
  • It’s easy to use and can be a relatively cheap option for someone looking to do something on their own.
  • The downside of the table is its lack of specificity. The table is great for providing a general traction, but if you have a specific desc level you’re trying to treat (like an L4-L5 disc herniation) it’s better to utilize more specific types of traction – such as a Flexion & Distraction table or a higher-end traction table that can dictate how much of a stretch is being used, where the stretch is applied, and for how long.
  • It’s also important to note that this table might be very difficult to use by yourself if you’re in a severe amount of pain or lack the strength to rock the table back up. You would always want to have someone available to help you if it’s needed.
  • This table should be used cautiously if you have high blood pressure or are using blood thinners, as it does increase it while on the table.
  • If you do NOT have a specific condition and are looking for something that you can use on your own to help you, this table may be a good option. The key thing to remember is to make sure you are to make sure you’re not over-doing it. It’s recommended to start for short periods of time (1-2min) and then gradually increasing the duration to 3-5min. It’s important to understand that it’s the frequency that’s most important, so multiple sets of 1-2min would be more beneficial than a few sets of 3-5min. If you DO have a specific condition, consult your doctor before you use it to determine if it’s a good fit.


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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS

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