Inversion Therapy: Can It Help with Spinal Pain?

Life is a constant battle against gravity. Wouldn’t it make sense to spend some time upside down for a bit? Inversion therapy is that concept.

Inversion therapy been around for a really, really long time. 3000 BC is when concept was introduced with yoga poses. The Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, hung people upside down on a ladder with a rope and pulley system to relieve pain in 400 BC. (1) Hippocrates definitely used some commingled methods.

If you skip ahead to the 1980’s, you can find some research in chiropractic journals on inversion therapy. In one study, the researchers had a person sit in a chair and flipped it upside down. It was found to relieve back pain, but it had no change on long-term resting heart rate or blood pressure.

In the last 10 years, a randomized control study came out for people who had one level of disc problems causing pain down one of their legs. Thirteen people had physical therapy and inversion. Eleven had physical therapy alone. The study found that surgery was avoided in 76.9% of the patients that got inversion therapy and only 22.2% in those that did not. (2) That's a pretty good argument for inversion therapy, however, the population size (how many people were in the study) is small.

If you want to use inversion therapy, you should set the table to -60 deg., says a researcher from South Korea. "That’s the angle he found to be the most successful. After 8 weeks of interventions, he saw that people had increased range of motion bending forwards and backwards. (3)

If you have an inversion table and you have back pain that is only coming from one level (you don’t have multiple herniated discs, extreme stenosis, and other conditions), then studies seem to suggest that it might be worth giving inversion therapy a try. With back pain that responds well to traction (pulling the spine), inversion therapy might be good to couple with active treatments like physical therapy.

If you are thinking of hanging upside down in the near future, there are some negative effects and contradictions. Don’t hang upside down if you have a spinal injury or a fracture in your back. It’s not good to do with high blood pressure. Forget about it if you are at a high stroke or heart disease risk. Not good to do with pregnancy. If you have eye problems, you could detach the retina if you are hanging upside down too much.

For more inversion information, you can contact us. Always ask your doctor before hanging upside down if you have any doubts about your health condition.


1. Raut, Abhijeet A., and S. T. Bagde. “Inversion Therapy & Zero Gravity Concept: For All Back Pain ProblemsAbhijeet A. Raut.”,

2. Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(17):1473-80. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.647231. Epub 2012 Jan 23. Inversion therapy in patients with pure single level lumbar discogenic disease: a pilot randomized trial.