1. I’m feeling some
aching in my back when I return upright from inverting.
Is this normal?
There could be several causes for this
You did too much too soon: If you are new to inversion, your body is not used
to being inverted (chances are you haven’t hung upside down since 2nd grade!)
By inverting too much too soon you are probably going to be a little sore. You
can liken inversion to beginning any new exercise program. If you over-do it
on the first day you will probably pay for it later!
You returned upright too fast: When inverted, your vertebrae have a chance to
separate and the discs can decompress. This action reduces pressure on the nerves
that run through your spinal column. When you ascend (return upright) on the
swing, your spine “re-compresses” which means that the vertebrae
return to their normal position and the pressure on the discs increases again.
If you come up from inversion too fast you might place sudden pressure on the
nerves that run through the spine which can cause some pain. Instead, you should
invert to a mild angle (4 – 6 inches ) for a just few minutes. Remain horizontal
for several minutes.
Always keep in mind that if you experience extreme pain or if you always experience
pain while inverting, you should discontinue inversion until you have had a chance
to discuss this with your doctor.
2. To what degree should I invert?
Beginners should start at a mild angle (the swing height will be
approximately 4 – 6 inches from the floor with your
butt in the saddle) for the first few minutes.
Then try inverting the body at 30 – 45 degrees: Approximate height of the
swing is 8 – 10 inches At this angle, your body begins to experience mild
stretching to your muscles and joints, while benefiting from the stimulated circulation,
improved oxygen flow to the head and repositioning of internal organs. This is
the angle to which the average person experiences virtually all the benefits
of inversion. Your spine receives the amount of traction it needs to completely
decompress (once you are relaxed).
(18 – 24 inches). This is the required height for
this classic shoulder stand, where shoulder and neck are
comfortably on the floor and all the weight and traction
is held by swing.
In full inversion, your body hangs freely
to be able to perform inverted exercises and stretching
and your head is free from the floor.
you never really need to go to full inversion if you
are not comfortable with it, Sarvangasana is usually
enough. You may need to alternate between inverting and
resting with your hands on the foam grips until you are
used to the feeling of prolonged inversion. You may also
want to hang for short periods of time to begin until
you become more comfortable.
Athletes, Yoga practitioners, etc, are one group that
may enjoy the extra traction from full inversion. Strong
muscles and ligaments need higher loads to decompress.
Intermittent traction / Oscillation Intermittent traction
(alternating 20 – 30 seconds inversion with returning
upright) or oscillation ( rhythmic rocking back and forth)
are actually the “preferred” methods of inversion
recommended by many doctors for stimulating circulation
and waste removal in and around discs.
Virtually all issues
of discomfort that occur with new invertees is due to
going too far, too fast. You
are wonderfully designed to be upside down, just listen
to your body, increasing your angle of inversion only
as you feel comfortable.
3. Does inversion cause strokes / popped blood vessels?
study published in 1983 by Dr. Goldman and colleagues
showed that inverted patients
experienced an increase in blood pressure and internal
eye pressure. The media widely reported the study,
warning that stroke was a potential result of inversion.
Two years following the inversion study, Dr. Goldman
reversed his original position stating, “New research shows that you are at no more of a stroke risk hanging
upside down than if you are exercising right side-up.” More in-depth research
found that the body actually has mechanisms that prevent damage from hanging
upside down. In fact, while oscillating (inverting with movement), some of the
patients’ blood pressure actually dropped a few points. (*Note:
these studies were based on patients generally in good health. Make sure you
review your own ability prior to inverting ).
Dr. Goldman stated that the warnings to the public
about the dangers of inversion were “grossly inflated” and that “in the 15 years these devices
for inversion have been in use, there has not been one single stroke case reported,
nor any serious injuries.” (This statement, to the best of our knowledge,
is as true today as when Dr. Goldman made it 17 years ago ).
Other universities, including Marquette,
Iowa and Portland studied inversion during this time
with results that also helped to vindicate Inversion
it as a healthy physical activity.
4. Why do I feel so much
pressure in my head – is it normal to turn red?
This is very normal and is actually good for you. It indicates
increased blood flow to the brain, eyes, skin and hair.
One preliminary study showed that the brain runs 7% faster
and 14% more accurately while inverted! The feeling of
pressure usually lessens over time as you become accustomed
If you are a beginner and are uncomfortable with this feeling,
it is OK to come up and rest a while. This is referred
to as “intermittent” traction (alternating
inversion with being upright ) and is a good way to help
becoming accustomed to the inverted world. You can also
try “oscillation” which is a rhythmic rocking
back and forth.
5. How do I focus on the
lower back / upper back / neck region?
Inversion is a natural form
of gravity-assisted traction. This means that the amount
of traction applied to various
locations of the body is exactly the right amount! Every
vertebra and related disc is just the right size to support
the weight above it. The large discs in the lower back
are the right size to support the 60% body weight that
is above them. The small discs in the neck are just the
right size to support the weight of the head. When inverted,
the weight normally supported is just the right weight
to apply traction.
Gentle stretching and exercise is beneficial
to help decompress and mobilize the spine:
You may perform gentle stretching exercises to help move the muscles and connective
tissues in the lower back area. In partial inversion, try rotating the
knees gently from side-to-side or slowly rocking your pelvis forward and
If you have worked up to full inversion, abdominal
exercises (sit-ups, crunches) can be beneficial to
the lower back since strong abdominal muscles are the
key for proper posture. You can try a gentle back extension
by placing your hands behind your head on the floor
and pushing your body in an arch away from the floor.
This is reverse extension and scorpion.
Many people experience upper back pain as result of stress and muscle tension.
The key to relieving this pain is to totally relax while inverting. Try deep
breathing exercises. Also, partner work can be beneficial. Nothing is more
relaxing than an inverted back and shoulder massage!
Movement is also very
beneficial. Try rounding your shoulders forward and pushing them back. Also,
one arm at a time across your torso to extend those
upper back muscles.
Again, movement can be beneficial. Try rotating your
head from one side to the other. Partner massages to
the base of the head and back of the neck are very
relaxing (do not apply pressure to the front of the
neck). You can also add gentle inverted traction to
your neck by resting your arms behind your head at
the base of your skull (don’t pull, just add
the weight of your arms).
6. What exercise do you recommend
Gentle stretching can be performed
while partially inverted by crossing one arm over your
body and rolling onto your deltoid and letting the side
of the face touch floor. You can also arch the torso
from side to side to loosen muscles and to help the mid
and lower spine to stretch.
Similarly, stress in the neck can be relieved by gently rotating the head to
either side, plus lifting the shoulders off the floor for a stretch in extension
by reaching up and grasping the handles.
Only perform these exercises when you are comfortable with being
fully inverted. Do not overdue it as, with any exercise to which your body is
unaccustomed, you may experience sore muscles if you do too much too fast.
Place your hands on your chest or behind your head and lift
your torso half way to your knee.
This is the only way to perform a full
sit-up that is safe for your back. Your spine is
in line with gravity so the full sit-up does not
harmful loads on the back. Place your hands behind
your head or on your chest. Sit up all the way to
You may need
to place your hands on the handles
to ‘cheat’ to help pull yourself up the last couple of inches. On
the way down, let your entire body weight be held by your abdominals. Some people
claim that one full inverted sit-up is as difficult as 10 regular sit-ups (without
the strain on your back! )
Inverted abductor (inside of knees and thighs):
swing you are able to exercise your legs as well! Bring
your knees and ankles together as close as
you can. Hold on the exhale for 5 seconds. This action is similar to a standing
squat, except that you are utilizing your inside leg muscles to strengthen
your abductors using your body weight. For resistance, repeat 10 – 20
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS NOT TO OVERDUE
IT. INVERSION IS NOT A “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” SITUATION.
AS SOON AS YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE HAD ENOUGH, STOP! THE
STRETCHING OF MUSCLES, LIGAMENTS, TENDONS, NERVES ETC.
IS MUCH STRONGER THAN YOU REALIZE WHEN YOU ARE DOING IT IN THE SWING. YOU MAY
NOT REALIZE YOU OVER STRETCHED UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING.
7. How long should I invert?
is probably the most commonly asked question regarding
inversion. The answer
really varies with different people. For the most part,
we recommend beginners to start slowly, just hang with
very little movement: it is very easy to pull a muscle
or nerve in the back when you start doing physical
exercise so for first timers start slowly. Once you reach
you are at a point that is stronger traction than you
would achieve in a hospital. The angle of inversion
the length of inversion time that is comfortable. The
shallower the angle the longer the time. Most people
for 10 – 20 minutes once or twice a day. There
is no real time limit. The important thing is to listen
your body and under do it rather than over do it. If
you are at all uncomfortable, simply return upright
slowly, resting when upright with eyes closed.
Virtually all issues of discomfort
that occur with new invertees are due to going too far,
too fast. You are wonderfully designed to be upside down,
but if you are like most people, the last time you hung
upside down you were a little kid. Just ease into inversion
gradually. Increase the height or swing only as you feel
8. Is the inverting detrimental
if you have heart disease or high blood pressure?
It is true that people should
not invert if they have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
However, inversion can cause a state of relaxation that results
in a drop in heart rate and blood pressure (sometimes even
lower than a resting state). Some doctors have used inversion
as a treatment for high blood pressure.
9. Will inversion therapy
help with a bulged disc?
When inverted, the natural
pull of gravity allows a separation of your vertebrae
which lessens the pressure on the discs in between each
vertebrae. The action of increasing the space margins
between the vertebrae can actually create a mild suction
in the disc which may help encourage the bulged disc
return to its proper place.
The main benefits are realized by increased circulation and waste elimination
to injured discs. In the opinion of many medical professionals, several sessions
of intermittent traction are the best way to help the body dissolve a bulged
The length of healing time will vary with different people.
However, it has been our experience that you should hang
three or more times every day for short sessions
at an angle most comfortable for you. Do not over do it. This IS NOT a “no
pain, no gain” situation.
10. Will inversion help with
headaches or migraines?
Some people have found that inverting on a regular basic
can actually help reduce the frequency of migraine occurrences,
however, we do not have any medical studies to specifically
support this claim. I would advise not to invert if you
are in the middle of experiencing a migraine as it could
potentially worsen your headache.
11. Will inversion therapy
help with draining blood from the lower limbs?
When inverted you are helping your heart
move venous blood from your legs and torso to the heart
and lungs to be purified. Inversion also helps to move
fresh, oxygen rich blood from your heart and lungs to
your upper body and brain.
When a muscle contracts, this squeezes capillaries and slows removal of wastes
from the muscle. Sustained muscle constraint due to stress or cramping causes
wastes to accumulate in the tissue and this produces pain. What inversion does
for muscles is two-fold: first, it stretches and relaxes them; second, gravity
helps the lymph system to clear out the pain producing toxins trapped in the
By stimulating circulation, inversion has been known to relieve varicose veins.
Varicose veins are caused when blood pools in the veins due to weakened one-way
valves. The downward pull of gravity causes blood to slip back and, over time,
the vein will distend and become painful. When inverting, the pressure is relieved
and the heart is able to clear the blood from the lower body.
12. If someone has a fused
vertebrae, is it safe for them to invert?
There are many types of fusion
surgeries. Some post fusion patients are helped by inversion.
Any fusion patient should
consult with their doctor before inverting.
13. Can inversion help children
with scoliosis? Does age matter?
Our medical advisor prefers to get patients
involved with inversion as early as possible. Using inversion
to help slow or reverse the effects of scoliosis is helpful
at any age, but especially before the bones fully harden
at ages 12 – 14.
There are many causes of scoliosis. Some causes may be problematic for inversion
(bone infection, cancer, compression fracture). Most scoliosis in children is
related to bone anomalies or calcification disorders, both of which do well with
inversion. Of course, if you have any doubt, you should always consult with a