Inversion therapy involves being upside down or at an inverted angle while hanging by the legs, ankles, or feet with the intention of therapeutic benefits. The process of doing so is called inversion. It is a form of spinal decompression and is a form of spinal traction. When the body’s weight is suspended from the lower body the pull of gravity may decompress the joints of the body below the anchor. Hanging by the feet, as with gravity boots or inversion tables or inversion chairs, causes joints of the back to be stretched and expanded. Inversion therapy of this sort is often commercially advertised as a relief for back pain.
Gravity boots are the most aggressive form of the therapy and put the body completely upside down and hanging from the feet. Inversion tables are typically flat in shape and will allow the user to adjust from being upright to being horizontal and completely upside down. Tables allow for more control than boots because the user can choose a smaller angle, such as 15 degrees from horizontal, to stretch the user’s back, which puts less strain on the user’s feet, ankles, knees, and other joints. Inversion chairs are like tables, but they take most of the pressure off the ankles and feet.
Health risks People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, eye diseases (such as glaucoma), or are pregnant are at higher risk for the dangers related to inversion therapy and should consult their doctors about it first. The first time anyone tries inversion therapy with gravity, they should be sure to have someone standing by, in case assistance is required to get out of the apparatus, or if health problems are experienced.
Mayo Clinic: Inversion therapy: Can it relieve back pain?