Exercising on an inversion table
Inversion tables became extremely popular as a way to ameliorate or cure low back pain ad alignment problems. There even is an entire therapy based on this called inversion therapy, where you lay upside down on a table that rotates in different angles. This way, your body gets relaxed and under the action of gravity the pressure between the vertebrae and nerve roots is reduced. Studies have shown that therapy on an inversion table can produce a short term relief in back pain caused by injuries or just by getting older. Also inversion tables are used by people who want a challenge in their daily exercise routine or trying to maintain their young aspect for a longer time.
You might be skeptical at the beginning and it’s understandable. I mean, how can a table that forces me to lie upside down is going to help me improve my daily exercise routine? If you think about it for a minute you’ll see the huge advantage it brings: you are hanging upside down and working with the effects of gravity. When you work standing up, you work with your own weight but on an inversion table, you work with the pressure gravity puts on us every single day! This pressure helps you build core strength throughout your abdominal area and your legs and helps you improve your health and body shape way faster than normal exercises do.
Advice for beginners: don’t start by directly hanging upside down. You need to get used with the angle. Due to the fact that we are used with our normal position, hanging upside down without proper training can cause many problems. You have to start at a gentle angle and work your way to more dramatic ones. Be patient and work daily on your inversion angle and you will see fast improvements.
Safety first! If you never used an inversion table before make sure that you have a friend or someone reliable next to you. The table is supposed to sustain your entire body weight so in case of faulty installation you’ll be completely exposed to injuries. Also read the installation manual carefully and make sure you follow it to the letter. After everything is set and the testing is done you can start your work out.
Never start your work out without a good warm up or stretching! Remember that you are upside down and this means more difficult exercises than you were used to. Even if you are a regular at the gym, exercising upside down must be treated carefully.
Now, let’s talk about what type of exercises you can perform on an inversion table to improve your fitness shape and body health.
Stretching is one of the best ways to relieve tension and stress from your entire body and also one of the most basic form of exercise you could do on an inversion table. It’s also an amazing warm up as it rushes blood flow to the muscles.
After you reached an angle that you are comfortable with and locked the table in place, perform a gentle body stretch outwards. Just extend your hands and stretch everything like you would want to get out of your body. You’ll feel amazing after this, I guarantee it!
If you arch your torso from side to side, you’ll get an amazing torso warm up and you’ll stretch the surrounding muscles and the mid-lower spine section. Stretching exercises can also be performed for working the neck area by rotating your head from side to side and lifting your head (make sure that you don’t do a sit up, just raise your head).
Another very good stretch is touching your knees with your arms extended in front of you and holding the position for a few seconds. Try coming back slowly to the initial position (like you are rolling your body around something) and then repeat (about 20 repetition should be enough).
These exercises are amazing for beginners but it’s also great to do them as a warm up before more complex exercises. They can be performed as and when required, and can be as frequently as you wish as they are a great help for stretching the spine and lifting the mood.
Another form of stretching assisted stretching where you ask a friend or partner to assist you. As you lay on the table slowly reach your arms behind your head and ask your friend to gently pull your arms in line with your body. This stretching exercise provides maximum spinal decompression and will make you feel extra great!
Back extension stretch
Extend your hands over your head and grab the corners of the inversion table. Gently arch your back to the point where it feels comfortable. You’ll feel amazing after this type of stretch as it involves the entire body and it forces the spine and back muscles to increase flexibility.
After your body has accustomed with the inverted position it is time to take out the big guns and start working on that core strength. Inverted crunches are exactly like normal crunches only you are hanging upside down. The gravity you have to fight when lifting your upper body is way bigger now and you’ll feel that in your abdominal muscles. Inverted crunches should be performed from a complete angle of inversion on order to be effective.
The exercise goes like this: place your hands behind your head (if you want more strength you can put them on your chest area) and lift your upper body until you are close to your knees. The burning sensation in your muscles will tell you that you are working really hard and that you’ll see results soon enough (that if you don’t believe us). Make sure to lift with your abs and not with your shoulders and neck. If you don’t do the exercise correctly then you won’t feel the good results. You’ll end up with back pain, neck pain and maybe some sort of work out in your shoulders.
Always focus on the muscles that are supposed to do the job. In this case we are talking about lower and middle abs.
You can make the exercise a bit more challenging and do some side crunches. When you lift your upper body to your knees you go left, come back slowly to the initial position and then go right. This way you’ll activate your side abs.
Shoulder Blade Raise
As you lay back on the inversion table at a comfortable angle, extend both arms and point your fingers to the sky (or ceiling). Keep your arms in vertical position (no bending) and raise your shoulder blades as if you are trying to reach something on the ceiling. When you reach the maximum raise hold the position for a few seconds and return slowly to your initial position. Make 20 repetitions and then 2 minutes break. Continue with other 20 repetitions.
This exercise is extremely efficient to remove muscle tension in your shoulders and to stretch the upper part of your spine. Attention: this exercise must be performed slowly with focus on the shoulder muscles. Try not to move anything else.
Inverted Sit Ups
Like at a normal sit up, put your hands behind your head and try to lift your upper body to your knees. Seems simple enough, right? Don’t be hasty. Tests have shown that inverted sit ups are extremely difficult and one inverted sit up is as effective as 10 normal ones. If you are at the beginning you can put your hands behind your knees and help yourself this way.
Do not attempt to do an inverted sit up if you feel worn out or if you start struggling half way! They are extremely difficult and if your body is not ready you could injure yourself. It is better to test if you can do this type of exercise first and in time you’ll get to do a fully inverted sit up. Never rush things when trying extreme exercises like this one. Your body needs time to get used to the situation.
The benefits are huge though. Just make the comparison: one inverted sit up to a normal one! You’ll get those abs showing in no time! Sit ups strengthen the abdominals, and inverted sit ups put no pressure on the back or neck like normal ones do. Inverted sit ups should be performed only at a completely inverted angle in order to avoid any type of injuries.
If you are upside down this doesn’t mean that your legs will get to rest. Inverted squats are really challenging for your leg muscles as you get to pull your body up by bending your knees. Sounds interesting right? The technique is simple: as you hang upside down bend your knees and start lifting your body upwards, just like in a normal standing squat but reversed. As a beginner you can use the table frame to help yourself up.
This is an amazing exercise for leg muscles, buttocks and lower abs.
When you are in a full inverted position, try reaching the table legs with the opposite hand and pull yourself into a rotation. Do the same exercise with the opposite hand and repeat for about ten times for each hand. This exercise gives an amazing stretch for the entire spine and it also works the upper abdominal area and you buttocks.
Another type of rotation that can be performed on an inversion table is a torso rotation. The method is like this: gently and slowly rotate your torso from left to right (as you are laying on the table) and hold the position for a few seconds for a bit of extra stretch.
Also there is an advances torso rotation (for those of you who are not challenged enough) where you lift your upper body with the help of your hands and then start the rotation to left. Come back slowly in the initial position and rotate to right. It is recommended that you keep the position for a few seconds for a better stretch. Do not rotate your body beyond what it feels comfortable.
Weight training on an inversion table
Being upside down it is going to be more difficult to work with weight so if you are not used to them when you stand do not use them while you are strapped on an inversion table! This is not an exercise for beginners. Now, if know your way around the dumbbells and are confident enough that you can pull this out you should know that this form of exercise adds extra difficulty to an average muscle training. The most difficult form of this exercise is at a completely upside down angle so you should start slow and work your way downwards. Start at a more comfortable angle and use lighter weights than you normally use to allow your body to get used to this new situation. In time you can gradually increase the weights or change the angle of the table.
This exercise helps you build muscular strength and it challenges your body to accommodate to new situations.
These are the most exercises that can be performed safely on an inversion table if you are healthy and in the need of an extra challenge to your fitness routine. You can always get creative and try new moves while you use an inversion table but always put safety first. Never do something that feels too uncomfortable or too demanding. Being upside down is a new experience for your entire body basically each time you try it so take it slow. Always make sure you are strapped correctly and you should always have someone around to help you in case of need.
Now that we talked about what you can do with an inversion table let’s talk a bit about the benefits it brings you. If you are the proud owner of an inversion table then you should not let it rust in a corner somewhere because you’ll definitely regret it when you will be older.
Short term treatment for back pain and regeneration of discs: the fact that your body is in unusual position (upside down) it helps your vertebrae to re-align and distance from each other. It also helps on fluid movement through your body.
While you sit upside down the spine elongates due to the fact that spaces between vertebrae get wider, and pressure on discs is released. If you invert on a regular basis (even just a few minutes a day) your discs will be able to regenerate, and get more flexible.
Actually, sitting on an inverted table it’s almost like being in a zero gravity space like astronauts are. Have you ever heard that astronauts came back taller from space? It’s true. This thing happens due to lack of gravity in space. Of course they come back to their normal height after a while on Earth but this still helps their spine to decompress.
Improvements of posture and alignment – exercises on an inversion table were proven to correct minor misalignments and we all know that a correct alignment improves our posture. A person with a correct posture appears confident and trustworthy in the eyes of others whilst a person with an alignment problem could seem less confident. Appearances are important in our world and you shouldn’t have to suffer just because you spine is a bit in trouble.
Stimulate circulation and fluid flow through the body – due to the fact that we all are pressured by gravity our entire circulatory system is fighting constantly to deliver food and oxygen to cells and organs situated at the upper part of our body. By changing our usual position we help improve our circulatory system and with this our health and looks. Our organs will be well fed and we will look younger and feel better.
Relieve tension and stress –All the tension we gather for days, weeks and even months can manifest as pain in the back, neck and shoulders, and possible headaches. A few minutes on an inversion table can make you feel lighter and forget all about stress, work and other worries.
Enhance mental function – our brain is the biggest oxygen consumer in our body. It needs about 25% of the oxygen quantity transported daily in our body in order to function correctly. In simpler words, the heaviest load must be carried to the top floor by taking the stairs. If you use an inversion table you help the little workers in your blood to move faster and do their job more efficient. A better oxygenated brain will be faster and more intelligent than ever.
Faster recovery after workout – I am sure you all felt those sore muscles after an intense work out and the pain and stiffness usually lasts for days. That stiffness and pain is actually a build-up of lactic acid and carbon dioxide in the muscles you worked so hard at the gym (or on the inversion table).
Also, during an intense workout, muscle fibers are torn down and replaced so after a workout, your body has to remove a lot of destroyed cells to make room for new ones. By helping the circulatory system and increasing the lymph flow you speed up waste elimination and allow the body to focus on building new muscle tissue.
Better ligaments and joints – Ligaments are the things that hold our bones together and joints allow us to move our limbs the way we do. These tissues are flexible, but they can tear easily when there is excessive stretch. Exercises on an inversion table can help increase the collagen content that these tissues need in order to function. This also gives extra strength in our ligaments and joints.
Improve body shape and function – Have you noticed that as we get older, we get somehow smaller? It’s not just an impression that grandma is shorter with a few inches than she was a few years ago. As we get older, our discs degenerate and our spine curves under the weight of the air and the gravity pressure. By using an inversion table you lift the constant pressure on your spine and let it “breathe” for a while thus allowing it to regenerate. In the end, when you will get older you won’t get shorter too. You’ll just be a beautiful old lady or man.
Also if you follow a daily exercise routine using an inversion table you’ll be able to shape your body much faster than by doing your regular work outs.
Best anti-aging treatment ever:
- You will be able to maintain your normal height and body shape as you get older;
- A circulatory system maintained in a good condition will reward you with a good skin and amazing hair until you are old. Also you can stimulate hair growth;
- In case you have problems with organs alignment you’ll be able to solve this problem and of course modify the shape of your body;
- As you improve your posture you’ll see an enhancement in appearance and confidence;
- Inversion supports a healthy and active lifestyle by reducing signs and symptoms of aging.
We all want to have better looks, to have better health and to look better as we age but we rarely put any effort into it. An inversion table will allow you to have all these and even more you won’t get bored using it. It’s not like going to the gym and getting bored running on a treadmill, you will be hanging upside down and fighting the gravity. After each work out you’ll see an improvement in your mood and your body health which are amazing reasons to go on and reach your goals!
All you need to do is read the instructions and put safety first. Always start slow in order to get big when working out on an inversion table and maybe have a friend with you at the beginning.