Inversion Therapy Support Forum
Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down or at an inverted angle with the intention of therapeutic benefits.
Traction and stretching
When the body's weight is suspended from the lower body (rather than born on the hands as in handstands or headstands or hanging from a bar with arms at sides, also forms of inversion ) gravity to decompress the joints of the body below the anchor. In particular, it is often advertised as a relief for back pain. It is not known to be widely regarded as a serious treatment for back pain.
Hanging by the feet, as with gravity boots or inversion tables, causes each joint in the body to be loaded in an equal and opposite manner to standing in an identical position of joint alignment.
Proponents claim that inversion therapy is particularly beneficial for the spine in that it relieves pressure on the discs and nerve roots; this in turn allows discs to recover lost moisture and to return to their original shape, decreasing the pressure they can exert on nerves. Skeptics note that pressure is also relieved when lying down in bed. Proponents counter that while pressure is removed, pressure of tight muscles is not, and that traction is needed to allow the possible space between spinal discs to be realized.
Holding the bones of the spine and legs together, the ligaments crossing the joints under traction are subjected to pulling forces, assisted by passive muscle tension, the skin, and the fascia. Proponents claim gradual introduction and increases (of intensity and duration) of traction could cause stimulation for the strength of ligaments to increase.
Proponents advocate that traction can be a tool to restore proper alignment to the spine, which may assist in maintaining proper posture when later righted.
Inversion devices are promoted as a tool to be used in gaining flexibility. Static-active stretching methods impossible to perform standing can be performed upside down for the spinal flexors, side flexors and extensors, and situps are a closed-chain exercise for the hip flexors (a static-active stretch for the hip extensors) compared to the upright exercise, leg raises, which are open-chain movements. Due to increased spacing in the joint which can occur in response to traction, the muscles crossing that joint are pre-stretched, and as such, experience a greater lengthening compared to the equivilent joint angle while under no traction (lying down) or while being compressed (standing).
Claims are made that inversion stimulates circulation differences due to gravity acting on the circulatory system in an opposite manner, opposing what it would normally assist, and assisting what it would normally oppose, while upright. This pooling of blood and greater circulation is thought by some to increase oxygen flow to those tissues, primarily in the brain or roots of the hair, which are superior to the heart.
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, and would have to progress very slowly starting at very light levels of inversion. 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.
TV star Rosie O'Donnell has said that she uses inversion therapy to treat depression.
Used by Richard Dean Anderson's title character in the 1980s television series MacGyver.
Writer Dan Brown has told fans he uses inversion therapy to help overcome writer's block.
Gravity boots, while shaped like and worn like a boot, do not serve the same function as the footwear. They are ankle supports designed to allow a person to hang upside down. Thanks to exposure in television dramas and movies in the 1980s, gravity boots became a common fitness tool in homes across the United States.
Today, gravity boots are used by the U.S. Army and have experienced a surge in popularity in 2006 with Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown praising them as well. Several companies manufacture and market gravity boots under various trade names.
The purported benefits of gravity boots range from the relief of back pain and headaches to increased oxygen flow to the brain. Some people use gravity boots to add an extra challenge to workouts, doing inverted crunches or squats, while others such as Uri Geller  and Dan Brown use them as tools to help them generate new ideas.
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