Would hanging upside down really benefit your muscles, back, and joints? As you go through the day, gravity compresses your spine and joints, and you actually shrink in height. You're actually taller in the morning after sleeping. This is because you're lying down which relieves your back and joints from the effects of gravity. It's a very controversial subject, and like anything new, check with your doctor before running out to buy an inversion table. If you have heart or circulatory problems, or glaucoma, get medical advice before proceeding.
Inversion is a passive and gentle way to target pain in all weight bearing joints of the body. Inversion can rehydrate discs in the spine, reduce nerve pressure, realign the spine, and relax tense muscles. Inversion therapy is not new, it's been around for years.
Hippocrates, back in 400 BC, used a system of complex ladders and pulleys to remove weight from his patient's spines in an attempt to reduce the negative effects of gravity on the lumbar region. The Nachemson study on lumbar disc pressure revealed some interesting statistics.
Surprisingly, sitting is one of the highest stress loads place on the lumbar region. Sitting with poor post can place up to a 250% load on your lumbar region. That's why so many office workers, sitting for 8 hours a day or more, develop back problems that become more more over time. I notice when I sit on the floor for long periods of time, my lower back stiffens up, and it takes me a minute or two before it returns to normal.
Even when lying down, the pressure inside the disc decreases by 75%; it never goes below 25%. The study also reveals that the only way to reverse this gravitational pressure on the back is to invert 60% of your body weight to an angle of at least 60 degrees. It is recommended to take things slowly, and get used to the feeling of being inverted first. Your heartbeat slows and your blood pressure increases when you are inverted for more than a few minutes. The blood pressure in your eyesballs also jumps dramatically.
When you return to the full upright position, stay there for a few seconds to let the blood and fluids in your body stabilize. You will feel lightheaded and disoriented, and could fall if you're not prepared for this experience. Weaving socks can lessen the ankle clamps from stretching your skin, which can get quite painful after more than a couple of minutes of being upside down.
Full inversion, or 180 degrees, is not necessary to achieve the full benefits of being inverted. Inversion chairs allow you to sit in an inverted position, without the stress and load on your ankles. This allows you to invert up to 70%, and still get the benefits of being 100% inverted. It's a great way to experience inversion therapy if you have back problems, or other medical issues, that could make using an inversion table a little too aggressive. But inversion tables also give the benefits of inversion to your hips, knees, and ankle joints. Some even do exercises while fully inverted.
Twisting, crunches, and other exercises, can be implemented as your skill level increases. To get the greatest benefit from inversion, it's recommended to do short sessions frequently throughout the day, rather than a long session once a day. Hanging upside down will definitely give you a new perspective on life.