How long should I invert?
Approximately 3-5 minutes of inversion is necessary to effectively decompress the weight bearing joints, however this depends on the ability of your muscles to relax and release. While there is no pre-determined time limit for inversion, it's important to listen and respond to your body and remember that inversion is about relaxation and enjoyment.
Beginners should ease into their inversion routine, starting with only 1-2 minutes per session and advancing only as they feel comfortable. Remember that you are stretching and realigning your body, so just like other exercise programs, you may feel soreness in the beginning. If you do, simply reduce your angle or duration of inversion and move at a more gradual training pace.
How often should I invert?
To achieve maximum results, we recommend routinely inverting with the Teeter several times a day. The Teeter is a great morning wake-up or as a way to wind-down in the evening for a good night's sleep. It can also be used in conjunction with a fitness workout as a way to recover from high impact, compressive or rotational activities � or simply as a go-to tool for occasional relief of back pain and tension.
To what degree should I invert?
Beginners should start at a mild angle (approximately 20-30 degrees beyond horizontal) for the first few weeks until you become comfortable with the operation of the equipment. You should be able to completely relax your body at this angle before you invert to greater angles.
20 - 30 degrees: At this angle, muscles and joints begin to experience mild stretching with improved circulation and lymph flow.
60 degrees (parallel with the rear legs of the table): According to the Nachemson medical study, which surgically implanted pressure sensors in the third lumbar disc and compared pressure at different body positions, a pull of 60% of the patient's body weight is necessary to decompress the lumbar. This roughly equates to 60 degrees on a Teeter. To experience the full benefits of inversion, take your time and work up to the 60 degree angle.
90 degrees (full inversion): Although advancing to 90 degrees is not required to get the decompressive benefits, our survey shows that nearly half of all users do fully invert, enjoying the added freedom for stretches and exercised offered at this angle.
Intermittent traction / Oscillation: Intermittent traction (alternating 20-30 seconds inversion with returning upright) or oscillation (rhythmic rocking back and forth) are actually the "preferred" methods of inversion for stimulating circulation and waste removal in and around injured discs.
Isn't all the blood going to go to my head? Are there any risks?
The body accommodates for the changing blood pressure by dilating the vessels and capillaries and increasing the cerebral spinal fluid to support the vessels. Will you feel increased pressure and will your face turn red? Probably. The redness is a result of the increased blood flow and dilation of the capillaries, which actually brings more oxygen to the brain, eyes, skin and hair. That feeling of pressure (caused by a reversal of the hydrostatic column) is actually occurs outside of the skull in the face and eyes. Inside the skull, there are compensating pressures, as discussed above. Any discomfort caused by the superficial pressure changes usually lessens over time as you become accustomed to inverting.
The increased circulation and therefore nutrients to the brain can actually be good for you! One preliminary study showed that the brain runs 7% faster and 14% more accurate while inverted! You may feel a little pressure when you start inversion, however it usually lessens over time as you become accustomed to inverting.
If you are a beginner and are uncomfortable with this feeling, it is OK to come up and rest a while. This is referred to as "intermittent" traction (alternating inversion with being upright) and is a good way to help get used to the inverted world. You can also try "oscillation" which is a rhythmic rocking back and forth.
How do I focus on the lower back / upper back / neck region?
Inversion is a natural form of gravity-assisted traction that results in progressive decompression. This means that each joint is decompresses by the same weight that compresses it while upright. Incorporate inverted stretches to lengthen muscles and encourage decompression and alignment. If your Teeter inversion equipment came with an Instructional DVD (all of our manual inversion tables do), look for the section on stretching and exercises to help get the most out of your inversion experience!
What exercises do you recommend while inverted?
All of Teeter's manual inversion tables come with an instructional DVD that includes some basic inverted stretching and inverted exercise tips. In addition, some of our Teeter products come with the DVD bonus Advanced Secrets to a Healthy Back, which includes a class featuring the inversion table and a series of partial and fully inverted stretches and exercises. Movement while inverted helps to maximize the benefits of inversion for your joints and ligaments by encouraging rehydration and increased flexibility. Joints that are slightly out of alignment from overuse and misuse are helped to naturally realign with gentle stretching during decompression, resulting in better body symmetry and posture.
I'm feeling some aching in my back when I return upright from inverting. Is this normal?
There could be several causes for this.
You did too much too soon: If you are new to inversion, your body is not used to being inverted (chances are you haven't hung upside down since 2nd grade!) By inverting too much too soon, you are probably going to be a little sore. You can liken inversion to beginning any new exercise program. If you over-do it on the first day, you will probably pay for it later!
You returned upright too fast: When inverted, your vertebrae have a chance to separate and the discs can decompress. This action reduces pressure on the nerves that run through your spinal column. When you ascend (return upright) on the inversion table, your spine "re-compresses" - the vertebrae return to their normal position and the pressure on the discs increases again. If you come up from inversion too fast, you might place sudden pressure on the nerves that run through the spine, which can cause some pain. Instead, you should invert to a mild angle (30-40 degrees) for a just few minutes. Come back up so your head is only slightly above your feet, just past the horizontal position (lying flat). Remain here for several minutes to allow your spine to slowly re-compress. Then slowly come up the rest of the way.
Always keep in mind that if you experience extreme pain, or if you always experience pain while inverting, you should discontinue inversion until you have had a chance to talk with your doctor.
Are there any medical contraindications for inversion?
Inversion therapy can provide innumerable benefits to your health. However, inversion may not be for everyone. If you have any of the following health conditions, please do not invert without your licensed physician's approval (this is not an exhaustive list - it is intended only for your reference.)
* Middle ear infection
* Recent stroke or transient ischemic attack
* Extreme obesity
* High blood pressure
* Bone weakness (osteoporosis)
* Recent or unhealed fractures
* Hiatal hernia
* Heart or circulatory disorders
* Medullary pins
* Ventral hernia
* Spinal injury
* Surgically implanted orthopedic supports
* Cerebral sclerosis
* Use of anticoagulants (including high doses of aspirin)
* Retinal detachment
* Acutely swollen joints
Will inversion therapy help with a bulged disc?
Discs are the soft tissue between the vertebrae of the spine. They have a jelly like center that is contained within a cartilage ring. Bulged, Herniated, Slipped or Prolapsed discs occur when the fibers of the cartilage weaken or are stressed to the point of allowing the nucleus to extend past its natural boundaries and in some cases rupture. The discs themselves do not have sensation, but disc damage can sometimes result in pressure on the nerves that run through the spine, which results in pain, numbness or weakness.
When using a Teeter, the natural pull of gravity elongates the spine, increasing the separation between each vertebrae, helping to reduce pressure on nerve roots. In the case of a bulged disc, the action of increasing the space margins between the vertebrae can actually create a mild suction in the disc, which may help encourage the bulged nucleus to return to its proper place. This also encourages rehydration of the disc, facilitating the natural healing process.
Several sessions a day of intermittent traction on the Teeter may offer the best results. Listen to your body and find an angle most comfortable for you. After inverting, take your time coming back upright, pausing at just above horizontal for 30 seconds, to allow the slow return of pressure to the damaged discs.
Will inversion help with headaches or migraines?
Some people have found that inverting on a regular basis can actually help reduce the frequency of migraine occurrences. However, we do not have any medical studies to specifically back this claim. Do not to invert if you are in the middle of experiencing a migraine, as it could potentially worsen your headache.
Will inversion therapy help with improving blood flow from the lower limbs?
When inverted, you are helping your heart move venous blood from your legs and torso to the heart and lungs to be purified. Inversion also helps to move fresh, oxygen rich blood from your heart and lungs to your upper body and brain.
When a muscle contracts, this squeezes capillaries and slows removal of wastes from the muscle. Sustained muscle contraction due to stress or muscle spasms causes wastes to accumulate in the tissue and this produces pain. Using a Teeter helps stretch and relax muscles and gravity helps the lymph system to clear out the pain-producing toxins trapped in tense muscles.
By stimulating circulation, inversion has been known to relieve varicose veins. Varicose veins are caused when blood pools in the veins due to weakened one-way valves. The downward pull of gravity causes blood to slip back, and over time the vein will distend and become painful. When inverting, the pressure is relieved and the heart is able to clear the blood from the lower body.
If someone has fused vertebrae, is it safe for them to invert?
There are many types of fusion surgeries. Some post fusion patients are helped by inversion. Any fusion patient should consult with a licensed physician before inverting.
Can inversion help children with scoliosis? Does age matter?
Our medical advisor prefers to get patients involved with inversion as early as possible. Using inversion to help slow or reverse the effects of scoliosis is helpful at any age, but especially before the bones fully harden at ages 12-14. The size of the equipment may be an issue, so younger children will need an attendant.
There are many causes of scoliosis. Some causes may be problematic for inversion (bone infection, cancer, compression fracture). Most scoliosis in children is related to bone anomalies or calcification disorders, both of which do well with inversion. Of course, you should always consult with a licensed physician.
Will my ankles be uncomfortable? Can I use gravity boots with the inversion tables?
The EP-series Teeter tables feature the Ankle Comfort Dial�, the foot platform design dials up or down for smaller or larger feet, allowing the ankle clamps to attain a secure and comfortable fit.
Consider the EP-550 Sport, which comes with the Gravity Boots. With soft foam liners and a flexible shell, the Teeter Hang Ups Gravity Boots provide added support around the ankles. The standard size comes with calf loops, which place a two-degree bend in the knees, helping to reduce the loads place on the top of the feet.
Here are some tips for improving ankle comfort while inverted:
- Make sure you wear socks with lace-up shoes - the material will provide added cushion and support for the ankles.
- Fit the ankle clamps snug enough so you're secure, but don't clamp them super tight - this will restrict blood flow and cause discomfort.
- Rotate the rear ankle clamps slightly downward before you secure your ankles. As you invert, they will rotate to cup the back of your heels.
- Adjust the foot platform so that there is minimal space between the top of your foot and the platform. The less your body 'shifts' when you invert, the better.
- Try oscillation and intermittent inversion first (rocking back and forth or short inversion sessions down then up). It may take days or even weeks to get comfortable with inversion, but you will soon adapt to the feeling.
Will I get any taller?
Sadly, inversion cannot make you taller than the height predetermined by your genes! However, inversion does help take care of the soft tissue in your joints, keeping them hydrated and healthy.
Inversion can also help you recover from daily height loss and combat progressive height loss. To understand the natural daily cycle of height loss, much can be learned from the Foreman study. Following nurses during their daily activity, the study found greater loss of stature during 8 hour working shifts than during 12 hours periods on their days off. The average daily height loss for the 12 nurses in the study during the working day was 1.1% of their height, which for most of us translates to � to � inches per day.
The human body not only experiences height loss on a daily basis, but over a lifetime as well. Tanner explains that most people will lose from 1/2- 2in (1-5 cm) in height during their lifetime due the long-term affect of gravity on the soft tissue of the joints, notably the discs. As a baby, the intervertebral discs are 90% fluid. However, fluid content in the discs decreases to 70% by age 70, resulting in thinner discs that are less flexible and less shock-absorbent. An active inversion program can help maintain more of the body's original height by reducing the pressure on the intervertebral discs, encouraging fluid movement back into the spongy disc tissue.
 Foreman, TK, et al: Diurnal variations in spinal loading and the effects on stature: a preliminary study of nursing activities. Clinical Biomechanics, 2: 48-54, 1987.
 Tanner, J. Beating Back Pain. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1987.
 Nachemson, A and Elfstrom, G: Intravital Dynamic Pressure Measurements in Lumbar Discs. Scandinavian Journal of Rehab Medicine, supplement, 1970