There are times when painkillers are not your best bets against back pain. I know this for a fact when I was rigorously training for my half ironman.
The back is probably one of the most neglected parts of our body, and it is actually also the most abused. When you are running, swimming, or cycling, it’s easy to think that the pressure is generally on the arms, legs, and feet.
That’s where we’re wrong: in any physical activity, the spine and your whole back in general receive full impact. It twists, moves, and turns to your desire. There are many ways to relieve back pain and one of those is inversion therapy.
In this article, you’ll find information about it as well as some of the more popular choices on the internet with other consumers for inversion tables. Read on.
Best Inversion Tables Compared and Reviewed
|Top||Ironman Gravity 4000 Inversion Table||Ironman||Check Price on Amazon|
|Teeter EP-560 LTD||Teeter||Check Price on Amazon|
|Innova ITX9600 Heavy Duty Inversion Table||Innova||Check Price on Amazon|
|Invertio Inversion Table Back Stretching Machine||Invertio||Check Price on Amazon|
|Health Gear ITM5500||Health Gear||Check Price on Amazon|
#1 - Ironman Gravity 4000 Inversion Table
Reliable and straightforward— these would be my two main descriptors for the Gravity 4000. Built with an association to the Ironman triathlon, Ironman Fitness has 16 inversion tables each catering to the specific needs of triathletes and more.
The 4000 is one of the most popular models today. It is highly durable with its tubular steel frames and comfort isn’t an issue as users rave for its 2.5-inch thick memory foam backrest.
I like how the handles are longer than your usual tables for that extra ease when adjusting the level of inversion. You’ll be able to invert for up to 180 degrees, as well as start on three different inversion angles.
The ergonomic ankle locks are tight enough to provide enough security as you tilt up and down, but wouldn’t put too much pressure to cause pain. It also has the highest weight and height capacity at 6 foot 6 inches and 350 pounds.
The product has a nice foldable feature, however, users thought it is an unusually heavy piece of equipment. Assembly is fairly easy albeit with some complaints of damaged parts upon delivery.
#2 - Teeter EP-560 LTD
From a small family business skyrocketing to one of the best-known brands for inversion therapy, Teeter is the strongest contender. In fact, the brand’s main mission is to ‘help people enjoy life without back pain and they’ve taken pride in the ‘Teeter Difference’ since 1981.
The EP 560 comes with the patented EZ-stretch handles that provide full inversion and allows spinal decompression. Add to that, the EZ-reach feature is its patented ankle-locking system that wraps around the ankles to give an ergonomic fit while providing maximum support.
There’s also the EZ-angle tether that will allow you to start at 20, 40 and 60-degree angles. I like how you’re in total control of your positioning and rotation with a simple shifting of your body weight through its traction holders. It’s almost effortless to invert and go back to an upright position as many users say.
Another feature I like is its acupressure and lumbar bridge adjustable nodes. This takes the therapeutic experience to another level as it targets to relieve specific pressure points in your back.
The 560 is part of the line of inversion tables that are FDA approved. What this means is it is medical-grade therapeutic equipment to help with conditions such as herniated discs, spinal joint disease, spinal curvature, and of course, back pain. This bit alone makes it the best value option in my opinion.
#3 - Innova ITX9600 Heavy Duty Inversion Table
I think that one unique component on this is its reversible ankle holding system. It gives you the option of front or rear U-shaped holders, with each sidelined with foam. It has a wide padded backrest and the handlebars are also made with soft-touch foam— all of these to ensure a comfortable experience on the table.
Adjustable height tubes and headrests also make your inversion simpler as it accommodates your specific body height. The six angle pin system on this model is also a great feature to be able to execute deeper stretches.
It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and a height capacity of 6 foot 6 inches. Though this equipment is foldable, users found it on the heavier side but that could only be because it’s made of heavy duty steel frame. Assembly is a breeze with few saying it only took them about 10 minutes.
#4 - Invertio Inversion Table Back Stretching Machine
Invertio is certainly one of the quieter brands in terms of advertising. Their inversion table is a piece of no-frills equipment offering basic features at a great price range. If you have nominal needs and are within a budget, this would be more than enough for you.
For the ankle locking system, though it isn’t ergonomic, I like that it is nice and comfortable as it is padded with four foam covered restraints. It’s not a fancy mechanism but does the job.
The main issue for users is that the release is a tad too short and you would need to bend more in order to free your ankles. I think this is a bit problematic as bending is going to put a strain on your back or even worsen your current pain— which is counterproductive as this is what you’re trying to work on buying an inversion table.
The backrest is made of 1 to 2-inch padded foam, which is a bit thinner than the other tables; however, they make up for it with a thicker pillow to support the head. Then again, it’s not adjustable.
These would be perfect for height ranging to 5’1” to 6’6”. It has 4 different angles at 20, 40, 60, and 80 degrees. Assembly is quite easy and you do have the option to have it assembled (with additional pay). It also folds as most tables do.
#5 - Health Gear ITM5500
From the Extreme Products Group, comes the stylish and comfortable Health Gear ITM5500. As per their Facebook Page, the product has been operating under Elite Fitness brand that has over 50 years of experience in the field.
One thing that I think sets this table apart from the others is its heat and vibration pads incorporated on the backrest. It’s technically a remote-controlled massage chair, and what wows users more is that it can be used separately. The backrest itself is made of 4 inch foam for that maximum comfort.
It comes with a side pin, rather than the usual incline system of a tether strap. You can change the angle from 20, 40, 60 and 90 degrees. In terms of the ankle lock system, you have to manually adjust it and lock with a press of a button to make sure that you are secured from falling head first.
It has a nice space-saving design and conveniently has wheels for easier moving around. It’s made of heavy steel tubes that are powdered to prevent erosion. It carries the usual 300-pound weight capacity and accommodates up to 6’5”.
My Number One Pick
What To Look Out For When Considering An Inversion Table
First off, you have to know that inversion tables are not for everyone. Before even starting your journey of finding an inversion table for you, I highly recommend that you check with your doctor. Back pains or spinal injuries are critical and the proper therapy or medication must be applied.
Given that, from my research, it has been deemed that inversion tables are one of the great ways to relieve back pains. It has been used since the time of Hippocrates and today, professional athletes and celebrities endorse the use of it.
Inversion Therapy or spinal traction is easing the pressure of gravity from your nerves and the discs in your spine by going upside down, creating breathing space between your vertebrates that are always clamped together.
So now that you have a bit of idea of how it works and which products are top of the market today, let me share with you how you can choose the best one.
Check your present medical condition
Are you suffering from other illnesses besides the back pain or spinal injury that you’re experiencing? If so, you may want to check first if you are actually allowed to use an inversion table.
People who suffer from high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart, and eye diseases are not advised to go through inversion therapy. Additionally, those with hernias, inner ear problems or pregnant women are also not allowed.
Anyone can easily benefit from an inversion table: normal and healthy individuals will do so. However, I would highly recommend getting the go signal of your physician first especially if you have any indication of the above illnesses.
Accessibility and ease of use
You’re literally at risk of falling each time you go up an inversion table. One major component you have to look at is the ease of use: will you be able to release yourself easily from the ankle lock system? Are you able to change your angles and control your movements easily?
You have to ensure that everything is within your reach as you go upside down and that all you have to think about is relieving your back pain. Having things within your reach adds to your comfort and peace of mind. Look for products that will provide you that full control.
Look for the Controllable Inversion Degree
Proper inversion is done gradually and with this component, you will be able to rotate to the degree you desire. Usually, tables have 3 or 4 degree levels. Having control of the inversion degrees will allow the table to stop at the bar that you set it, and that’s where your body will spin at.
Higher quality tables have mechanisms like the EZ-angle tether of the EP 560, others have manual levers or buttons. In any case, this is a critical component as this dictates your position and angle.
Weight and Height Capacity
If a table can accommodate your height and weight tantamounts to 100% safety. It will be counterproductive to buy one that’s shorter as it will surely cause more harm than good.
Weight and height capacity is the most basic and standard information you’ll have access to on this equipment. Be very wary if this is something that’s not clearly stated on the product’s info sheet.
Check for the make of the frame
Durable plastic is not something that I would consider when I buy an inversion table. I would recommend that you look for the terms: ‘heavy duty’, ‘steel frame’, or even carbon.
Sturdy and solid should be what you’re looking for. Expensive products don’t always say great value as cost and quality come together. Cheaply built tables might not hurt your pockets, but it will surely cost you more in the long run.
Backrest padding and support
Since your back pain is the main thing that you’re trying to relieve, where it rests is highly important. Ample support doesn’t mean thick padding, sometimes a two-inch memory foam does the trick or adjustable nodes which directly ease pressure points.
You also have to look for lumbar and neck support: as you are somewhat suspended in the air, a great amount of comfort will ensure a better experience.
A word of caution: do not use pillows or any other products that do not come with your equipment as an alternative. This may cause more harm than good.
Coverage of warranty
Warranty is your purchase protected. Checking your warranty coverage should be an SOP by now, especially if you’re buying equipment. Besides, other offerings such as money-back guarantees, discounts or other terms may be available.
So make sure you check, before you commit.
Benefits Of Inversion Therapy
- Helps Improve Spine Health
According to Medical News Today, basic movements such as sitting, standing up, and walking already puts pressure on our backs. Inversion therapy allows the spine to be stretched in a way that normal stretching wouldn’t.
- Reduces Back Pain
The decompressing effects of inversion therapy helps prevent spinal disc and joint pain. It can also reduce muscle spasms in your back.
- Helps eradicate the need for surgery
A study back in 2012 found that inversion helped reduce the need for surgery especially for those with lumbar discogenic disease.
- Improves Blood Flow
Inversion has also been deemed as a great way to improve circulation. By sending the blood flow in the opposite direction, you’ll be able to allow more blood to the brain.
- Increases Core Strength
With gravity as the natural form of resistance, you’ll surely develop a stronger core with regular inversion.
Risks of Inversion Therapy
- Eye And Ear Pressure
Inversion therapy causes pressure to build up in the eyes and those with retinal problems can worsen the condition, and may possibly cause bleeding. The same goes for those with ear problems.
- Increased Blood Pressure
When you are upside down, your heart works double-time to move blood to other places of your body more than it is used to. When you are suffering from any heart-related disease like hypertension and high blood pressure, this could deem very bad for you.
- Causes muscle pulls with unnecessary extended use
According to a doctor from michaelgleibermd.com, staying too long upside down on an inversion table could actually result in pulled muscles. Imagine trying out a new workout or sport for the first time, it provides a different strain on different body parts: the same goes with inversion. Your body is not used to you being upside down.
Frequently Asked Questions About Inversion Tables
Q: How long should I be on an inversion table?
A: If you’re a first-time user of an inversion table, I recommend that you start with a few minutes then just gradually build from there. As you get accustomed to it, adding more therapy sessions in short intervals would be ideal. Still, your best bet is to ask your physician.
Q: I don’t have a strong upper body; will it be difficult for me to invert and go back to an upright position?
A: No. Ideally, your inversion table should help you go back upright with the proper adjustments. The handles will also be able to support your inversion. In any case, having someone close as you go through the therapy would be ideal: a spotter if you will.
The benefits of inversion therapy have been long established. Owning an inversion table allows you to have access to therapy wherever and whenever you want. From triathletes to basketball players, inversion has become a true staple in improving one’s physical condition especially in relief of back pains.
Still, as I always remind you all, before getting into anything make sure you have consulted with your physician, research, and properly educate yourself before purchasing or trying out new products.
If you’ve landed here as a triathlete preparing for a triathlon, perhaps you should check out our post on the best triathlon shoes for men and women.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.