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Inversion tables offer noninvasive, passive mechanical traction that aims to decompress the spine to reduce stress on body structures and improve spinal health.

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There are a range of potential benefits and disadvantages to inversion tables. The pros and cons can include:

Pros

  • may help to relieve symptoms of various health conditions – clarify
  • may help reduce back pain
  • non-invasive treatment
  • cheaper than surgery
  • may improve flexibility and blood circulation

Cons

  • equipment may take up a lot of space
  • limited research to show their effectiveness
  • injuries are possible
  • may be costly
  • can increase pressure on the eyes, head, and ears

Inversion tables are devices that allow a person to assume an inverted position at various angles. An individual lies on a platform with their ankles supported by a bracket with a ratchet mechanism.

While many devices allow for total inversion, most people choose not to go past 60 degrees. These inversion tables have locking mechanisms or straps that hold the table at a certain angle.

This type of device applies traction to the spine using a person’s body weight and gravity — this traction “stretches” the spine. This increases the space between the spinal vertebrae, relieving the pressure on the disks and nerves and increasing circulation in the area.

Inversion therapy may be helpful for people with the following conditions:

An inversion table may improve these conditions because of its ability to relieve pressure on the spine.

A 2020 study found intermittent traction therapy effective in treating chronic low back pain. However, it is important to note that this research involved a small group of participants.

A 2019 systemic review and meta-analysis also concludes that mechanical traction leads to significant short-term low back pain reduction in people with herniated disks.

Additionally, a 2021 study discovered that inversion tables helped to relieve symptoms in people with herniated lumbar disks. The authors also found that inversion tables reduced the number of participants who went on to have surgery within 2 years of the study. 21% of participants using inversion tables needed surgery within this time frame compared to 39% of the control group.

Read more about inversion therapy for low back pain.

However, research is still limited and no studies have found that inversion tables can cure back problems indefinitely.

A person should consult with a doctor to diagnose and manage their back pain or any conditions affecting their spine.

It is generally safe to use inversion tables. However, partial-to-full inversion increases blood flow and pressure towards the eyes and head. With this in mind, individuals should avoid using inversion tables if they have any of the following conditions:

A person may wish to speak with a doctor to see if they are a suitable candidate for inversion therapy.

While anecdotal reports show short-term benefits of using inversion tables, limited studies support its benefits.

Below are 7 of the best inversion tables a person may consider purchasing online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for small budgets: Innova ITX9600

The Innova ITX9600 allows users to adjust the headrest, height, and footrest to ensure fit and comfort.

The device has a six-angle pin system locking feature for safe and consistent inversion. It also features a True Balance System that allows individuals to find their center of gravity for easy inversion.

It has the following specifications:

  • dimensions: 46 x 28 x 63 inches (in)
  • weight: 52 pounds (lb)
  • weight capacity: 300 lb
  • height capacity: 4 foot (ft) 10 in to 6 ft 6 in
  • features: foldable, reversible ankle holding system, lumbar support pad

Reviews for this inversion table are generally positive, with users writing that it is durable and affordable. However, some users wrote that it was not comfortable to use and the foot stand did not feel strong enough.

The Innova ITX9600 costs $109.90.

Best foldable design: Ironman Gravity 4000

The Ironman Gravity 4000 is a foldable inversion table comprising a tubular steel frame and nonskid floor stabilizers.

It has an adjustable strap to limit the angle of inversion and uses a patented ratchet ankle locking system with molded ankle cushions.

It has the following specifications:

  • dimensions: 49 x 26 x 65 in
  • weight: 76 lb
  • weight capacity: 350 lb
  • height capacity: 4 ft 9 in to 6 ft 6 in
  • features: foldable, removable, foldable pillow

Positive online reviews mention that it improved sciatica pain. Negative reviews mention that it can be difficult to assemble and its foot rests are uncomfortable.

The Ironman Gravity 4000 costs $480.

Best for guided inversion sessions: FitSpine Teeter LX9

The Teeter LX9 inversion table has several features, including an eight-point floating suspension system, deluxe EZ Reach Ankle system, and Ergo-Embrace Support, which are designed to offer comfortable, easy, and safe inversion.

A person can preset their inversion angle using the EZ angle tether and use the stretch handles for added decompression. People can also download the Teeter Move app for guided inversion sessions and classes to help them stretch targeted areas of the body.

It has the following specifications:

  • dimensions: 60.8 x 27.5 x 57 in
  • weight: 73.6 lb
  • weight capacity: 300 lb
  • height capacity: 4 ft 8 in to 6 ft 6 in
  • features: foldable, lumbar bridge, acupressure nodes, storage caddy

Reviews on the company website are largely positive. Users write that the table can reduce back pain and tension. Critical reviews mention problems with returns and adjusting the table.

The FitSpine Teeter LX9 costs $549.99. A person can use their Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) to buy this inversion table.

Best for heated massage therapy: Innova ITM5900

The Innova ITM5900 comes with a vertical massage pad that spans the length of the spine. It provides targeted heat and vibration to the lower back area.

Additionally, the inversion table features a True Balance System and a six-angle pin system for an easy and safe inversion experience.

It has the following specifications:

  • dimensions: 61 x 28 x 46 in
  • weight: 70 lb
  • weight capacity: 300 lb
  • height capacity: 4 ft 10 in to 6 ft 6 in
  • features: adjustable headrest pad

Positive online reviews mention that the heating pads are comfortable and the table feels sturdy when in use. Negative reviews mention problems with the ankle pads and that the massage and heating features were not effective.

The Innova ITM5900 costs $199.95.

Best for comfort: Health Gear ITM5500

The Health Gear ITM5500 comes with a removable full-back heat and vibrating massage pad, four adjustable oversized foam leg rollers, and a 4-in memory foam backrest for a comfortable and relaxing inversion experience.

It allows for a full 90-degree inversion and utilizes a four-pin inversion pin system. It also features an ankle support system allowing for easy adjustments without bending.

It has the following specifications:

  • dimensions: 52 x 28 x 63 in
  • weight: 60 lb
  • weight capacity: 300 lb
  • height capacity: 5 ft 1 in to 6 ft 5 in
  • features: foldable, built-in transport wheels

There is only one online review for this product. It is positive overall and mentions that it is easy to assemble, but the massage cushions were uncomfortable for this particular user.

The Health Gear ITM5500 costs $240.

Best adjustable design: Body Vision IT9550

The Body Vision IT9550 is a lightweight, foldable, and highly adjustable inversion table. It comes with adjustable high-density foam rollers and also utilizes a Sur-Lock Easy In/Out Ankle Support System for a safe experience, and allows for convenient angle adjustments when in use.

The device has a four-point rear adjustment bar for 20, 40, 60, and 90-degree angle adjustments and comes with removable supports and pillows.

It has the following specifications:

  • dimensions: 57.5 x 26 x 50 in
  • weight: 52 lb
  • weight capacity: 250 lb
  • height capacity: 5 ft 1 in to 6 ft 6 in
  • features: foldable, removable headrest pillow and lumbar support pad

Positive online reviews mention that it was easy to assemble and helped to improve back pain. Negative reviews mention missing parts and that it is not suitable for people with wide shoulders.

The Body Vision IT9550 comes in three colors and costs $109.99–169.99.

Best for high weight capacity: Exerpeutic 975SL

The Exerpeutic 975SL uses a patented iControl Disk Brake System situated on its side to allow a person to lock and unlock the frame at any angle.

It also features a hand-activated ratchet locking system and patent-pending Airsoft ankle holders to ensure comfort and safety while inverting.

It has the highest weight capacity of the products included in this article.

It has the following specifications:

  • dimensions: 58.3 x 75.6 x 31 in
  • weight: 74.1 lb
  • weight capacity: 350 lb
  • height capacity: 4 ft 10 in to 6 ft 6 in
  • features: foldable, patented stretch handles, nonskid floor stabilizers

Reviews online are largely positive. Positive reviews state that it is easy to assemble and effective in reducing back pain. Additionally, some uers found that it was easy to adjust for multiple users.

However, negative reviews mention that the locking mechanism can get stuck, with some users being unable to get out of the table without help. Other users mention that it is difficult to get the table upright from an inverted position without help.

The Exerpeutic 975SL costs $269.

A person can consider the following factors when purchasing an inversion table:

  • Third-party review and certifications: A person should check whether the device is Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-registered and lab-tested for durability.
  • Safety: Falling off an inversion table is dangerous, so an individual should check for safety features and durability, such as the use of heat-treated steel in weight-bearing hinges or joints. One 2021 case study reported that fall injuries related to the use of inversion tables led to cervical spinal cord injuries.
  • Ankle system: Most inversion tables feature extra-long handles to make securing the ankles possible without the need to bend. Also, ill-fitting ankle closures may cause pain and pinching.
  • Ease of use: A person should be able to control and limit their angle and rotation easily.
  • Locking systems: Some inversion tables use pin systems, while others use straps or tethers to limit the angle of inversion.
  • Easy assembly: Some devices come preassembled, but others may require full assembly may come with detailed manuals and videos.
  • Storage: People who are short on space may opt for foldable tables. Some tables even have transport wheels and storage bags.
  • Add-ons: Some inversion tables include heat and vibration pads, while others come with removable pillows and lumbar cushions.

A person should see a doctor if they have ongoing back pain problems, particularly if it occurs after an accident, gets worse at night, or affects their sleep.

The British National Health Service (NHS) states that an individual should seek immediate medical attention if their back pain is accompanied by:

The following are common questions and answers about inversion tables.

How long should a beginner use an inversion table?

To start, a person should use an inversion table for 1–2 minutes a day. If they feel any discomfort while inverting, they should slowly tip back up to avoid making their pain worse, making sharp movements, or feeling dizzy.

A person may wish to have someone with them while they get used to using their inversion table.

How long can a person use an inversion table?

A person should not use an inversion table for more than a few minutes at a time. A person can use an inversion table for up to 10 minutes a day, but they should be mindful of how their body responds to being in an inverted position. A person should stop using an inversion table if it causes pain.

Hanging upside down for an extended period of time can cause death. Gravity can cause more blood to be transferred back to the heart, putting strain on the organ. Additionally, a person’s heart rate may slow down while in an inverted position.

It is not safe to sleep on an inversion table.

How often can a person use an inversion table?

A person can use their inversion table once or several times a day for up to 10 minutes each time.

Do inversion tables work?

There is limited research into the overall effectiveness of inversion tables. It may bring short-term relief from back pain but using an inversion table should not replace advice or treatment from a doctor or physical therapist.

This type of therapy may work for some individuals, but it is not suitable or safe for everyone to try. A person should work with a doctor to check if using inversion tables are safe for them to use and to create a treatment plan that will provide effective and long-term improvement of their particular condition.

Who should not use an inversion table?

Inversion tables can cause a buildup of pressure in the eyes, head, and ears. Therefore, those with hypertension, glaucoma, heart disease, and detached retinas should avoid inversion therapy.

In addition, people with osteoporosis, fractures, and joint problems should avoid using inversion tables.

Sitting, standing, and exercising puts pressure on a person’s spine. This spinal compression may lead to back pain, pinched nerves, muscle pain, and spasms. An inversion table may be a safe and noninvasive method for relieving spinal stress.

However, research into the effectiveness of inversion tables is limited and inversion therapy is not thought to be a long-term treatment for back pain or back conditions.

A person should always discuss back problems with a doctor before starting to use an inversion table. A person should also check that inversion tables are safe for them to use.

Please note: Medical News Today does not imply warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or endorse any of these applications. Nobody at MNT has evaluated these apps for medical accuracy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved them unless otherwise indicated.