Last Updated on July 3, 2021 by TFM Staff
*Please note, nothing discussed here is intended as medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding any medical condition.
Overview – Best Inversion Tables for the Home
Inversion tables from trusted brands like Innova and Teeter are becoming more popular as an addition to home gyms. The reason is that many experts and physicians believe it’s a good form of physical therapy and generally a way to relax the back and address back pain. We’ll get deeper into the ways inversion tables can benefit your health, but first we want to share our choices for the best inversion tables and inversion table reviews to help you decide which is best for you in terms of quality and features.
|Innova ITX9600 Inversion Table with Adjustable Headrest, Reversible Ankle Holders, and 300 lbs Weight Capacity||See Price on Amazon|
|Innova ITM5900 Advanced Heat and Massage Inversion Table||See Price on Amazon|
|Teeter FitSpine X3 Inversion Table, Deluxe Easy-to-Reach Ankle Lock, Back Pain Relief Kit, FDA-Registered||See Price on Amazon|
Benefits of Inversion: Your Guide to Inversion Tables
In the U.S., more than eight million people see a doctor each year for lower back pain, and this number doesn’t account for those who don’t seek diagnosis or medical attention.
What’s more, experts agree that more than 80% of people will experience a degree of back pain at some point in their lives.
That sudden sharp pain in your lower back can have you scrambling to find a source of immediate relief. And while over-the-counter solutions like ibuprofen might provide a sense of temporary relief, they don’t address the problem at its source.
What’s more, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can damage the lining of your stomach.
So, what can you do?
One solution to addressing current back pain and preventing future issues from happening is an inversion table.
Inversion therapy is a form of physical therapy that you can do in the comfort of your own home. It has been shown to increase circulation, reduce back pain, and provide a number of other benefits.
I’m going to discuss the many benefits of inversion tables including how it can help with back pain, how you should use an inversion table for optimal results, and which brands of inversion tables are best for your needs.
What is an Inversion Table?
An inversion table is a solid table that is designed to safely move upside-down and back to right side up.
This type of device is required for the process of inversion therapy, which is a form of spinal traction therapy. This is where you invert your body, hanging upside-down at an angle that is comfortable for you.
While more experienced people can hang directly upside-down, those who are new to inversion therapy will have to build up to that.
What is an Inversion Table Used For?
- Inversion tables may be used for a variety of reasons including:
- Increasing circulation
- Alleviating lumbar, sciatica, and herniated disk pain
- Helping pregnant women with sciatica, pelvic girdle pain, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Improving spinal mobility
- Reducing neck and shoulder strain (e.g., from sitting at a desk)
- Decompressing the spine after an accident or injury
- Supporting stress management
- Reducing the frequency and pain of headaches and migraines
- Improving posture and mobility
How Does an Inversion Table Work?
Modern day inversion tables are straightforward, but it’s still important to carefully read through any instructions from the manufacturer before adjusting the table so you don’t end up with a malfunctioning machine.
With that said, here are some general instructions for how to use an inversion table:
- Adjust your inversion table to the height that feels comfortable. You should be able to rest on top of it without hanging over the edge.
- Secure your feet in the foot and ankle braces. Some inversion tables have additional safety straps that correspond with the degree to which you want to be inverted.
- The degree of inversion can vary from 0 to 180, and it is highly recommended for beginners to start with a lower angle such as 90-degrees. This will allow beginners to adjust to being upside down. From here, you can gradually increase the inversions over time.
- Once you’re locked in and you know how far back you want to go, begin to slowly move the table backward until you achieve the angle you want.
- Stay here for as long as you feel comfortable or the length of time prescribed by your physical therapist, chiropractor, or doctor, then slowly return yourself to the starting position.
Benefits of Inversion: What Does the Science Say?
Inversions stimulate a variety of different bodily systems including metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, immune function, digestion, etc.
Thanks to the global pandemic, most of us are working from home. Sitting in your office chair for hours on end slows down your circulation, which can lead to unpleasant side effects like fluid retention and varicose veins.
Long periods of sitting also decreases blood mobility and this can potentially increase your risk for blood clots.
These side effects can be reversed when you use an inversion table. Rather than gravity sending your blood downwards, it will be pulled upwards, alleviating the compression from your day-to-day activities and chores.
Promotes Disc Health and Spinal Mobility
It’s easy to take for granted the amount of stress the body can take each day. A lot of the activities we do can compress our spine, even those things that are good for us like weightlifting and running. When left unchecked, spinal compression can contribute to pain, especially in the lower back. Continuing with the point above, inversion tables can take a load off your spine and boost circulation while decompressing your discs. This will provide the temporary relief that so many people suffering from back pain are searching for.  
Back and Sciatica Pain Relief
Inversion tables are used to treat chronic lower back pain, sciatica, and other related problems by inverting the spine in order to stretch muscles (erector spinae) that tighten from too much sitting or standing upright day after day. Research has shown that inversions can temporarily relieve the tension on discs between the vertebrae in your spine which reduces inflammation and pressure on nerves that cause you discomfort.  
Some experts believe that inversion therapy can bring relief from symptoms associated with stress-related disorders including depression, anxiety, and insomnia. On that same note, inversion tables might be helpful for alleviating symptoms from different types of headaches such as a tension headache or migraine. Inversion acts as an analgesic by eliminating inflammation at the source rather than masking symptoms temporarily like drug-based treatments. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people can relax and psychologically “decompress” after a long day. More research is needed but the preliminary results look promising.
Saves on Healthcare Costs
From the economist-based perspective, an inversion table can save you on medical bills. An inversion table is a form of preventative therapy that addresses common postural issues that, if left untreated, would become a larger issue that could require a visit to a doctor or specialist along with prescription medication.
What Should I Look for When Buying an Inversion Table?
As you’re going through your research, here are some important questions to ask. Finding the answers to these questions can help you choose the inversion table that is best for you.
How Much Does It Cost?
This is the first thing I’d suggest looking at and not for the reason you might think. With inversion tables, it really is a case of you get what you pay for. If you see an inversion table that is priced far below other brands, it’s usually a safe bet to disregard it. Given the materials, design, and third-party testing that’s common among elite brands, that unbelievably low price is just that… unbelievable.
Is It Well-Designed?
If you’ve ever tried to assemble an IKEA shelf, you know only too well that you don’t need an engineering degree to know when something isn’t made well. Pay close attention to the inversion table you’re considering and take notes on the following:
- Are the safety features (e.g., straps) within reach at all times?
- Does it wobble when the table is moving backward?
- Does it feel like it could give at any moment?
- Does the overall design make sense for your body type?
What Materials Were Used?
Since you will be literally turned upside down, the last thing you want is an inversion table that cuts corners with materials. The frame should be steel, and you want a firm but comfortable padding on the table itself. A dull ache or pain from a rough and uncomfortable table while you’re upside down can quickly send you into panic mode. Memory foam tends to be the go-to for the best brands of inversion tables.
How Easy is it to Use?
User friendliness can quickly make or break a product, especially when you’re expected to know what to do while hanging upside down. The best way to know for sure is to get yourself into a store and try it out while ideally having a brand rep showing you what to do step-by-step. You can easily buy one online but make sure it comes with a complete video series and print guide that breaks down everything from assembly to usage.
Is It Third-Party Tested?
This is a very important point that a lot of people tend to overlook. With the rampant number of profit-focused – not customer-focused – brands on Amazon, third-party testing of products has become the gold standard within the fitness industry. Check to make sure the brand you’re considering has been thoroughly tested by a third party. Bonus points if they are registered with the FDA.
Does It Come with a Warranty?
In short, a company that believes in their product won’t have an issue offering you a warranty. From my experience, the best brands offer at least a five-year warranty. Just be sure to read the fine print on these warranties because some might have stipulations.
What Do the Inversion Table Reviews Say?
While this should be the final step in your research process, it can still be helpful to see what people are saying about the inversion table you’re considering. Admittedly, reviews can be a mixed bag as companies have been known to pay for reviews, especially on Amazon. However, it’s clear when a brand stands out one way or another, especially if it’s been on the market for years. Reviews shouldn’t be the foundation of why you buy a table, but they should be used to push you over to one side of the fence between two popular and trusted brands.
How Long Should I Use an Inversion Table?
Begin with 30 seconds at a comfortable angle that also pushes you just outside of your comfort zone – You’ll need to adjust to that feeling of the blood rushing to your head.
Gradually build up from week to week, adding 15 to 30 more seconds.
Once you’re able to stay at your starting angle for 5 minutes or more, consider adjusting the angle. The ultimate goal is to get comfortable with being completely upside down but this will take time.
Eventually, you should be able to comfortably use an inversion table for up to 30 minutes per day, regardless of the angle.
Who Should Reconsider Using an Inversion Table?
Inversion tables are generally safe but if you have high blood pressure, weigh over 250 pounds, or have a history of cardiovascular issues, you might want to reconsider using one.
As always, check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program or using a new piece of fitness equipment like an inversion table.
Recommended Inversion Table Brands
The following brands have established themselves as elite brands in the industry.
Hands down, Teeter is one of the most recognized, respected, and trusted brands of inversion tables. Not only are their tables third-party tested, but they are also registered with the FDA.
Teeter is fully transparent as far as materials and design. Their inversion tables are made from high-gauge heat-treated steel, and feature super comfortable tabletops.
Backed by a five-year warranty and 60-day trial, you can rest assured when trying the Teeter inversion tables.
The Innova line of inversion tables combines efficiency with budget-friendliness. Personally, I’m a fan of the heavy-duty deluxe inversion table with air lumbar support because it features a six-pin safety system for adjusting the table.
Innova tables have a higher-than-normal weight capacity at 300 pounds, and they also comfortably accommodate people who are taller than six feet.
Inversion Tables: Are They Worth Buying?
Yes, inversion tables can provide a number of benefits including improved spinal mobility, pain alleviation, and enhanced circulation. Inversion therapy can reduce healthcare costs by addressing preventative health measures.
Inversion therapy is also considered easier on the joints compared to other forms of therapy such as chiropractic care because it does not involve repositioning any vertebrae.
1. Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, et al The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Published Online First: 24 March 2014. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204428.
2. Jee, Yong-Seok. (2013). The effect of inversion traction on pain sensation, lumbar flexibility and trunk muscles strength in patients with chronic low back pain. Isokinetics and exercise science. 21. 237-246. 10.3233/IES-130506.
3. Manjunath Prasad, K. S., Barbara A. Gregson, Gerard Hargreaves, Tiernan Byrnes, Philip Winburn, and A. David Mendelow. “Inversion Therapy in Patients with Pure Single Level Lumbar Discogenic Disease: A Pilot Randomized Trial.” Disability and Rehabilitation 34.17 (2012): 1473-480.