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Inversion: Get back in the game

Back problems can be debilitating, but there is hope out there

Having had my own brush with disaster, I have a new found respect for never-before considered therapies. When it comes to back health, the value of inversion therapy has come into the forefront of my mind.

The benefits of inversion therapy include: reducing back pain, rehydrating the intervertebral disks, relaxing muscles, realigning the spine and better recovery from activity.

Inversion therapy provides decompression for the body. Since we spend most of our day in an upright vertical position, gravity continuously pulls down. This cumulative pressure is great on the lumbar region of the spine. By turning oneself upside down, you can reverse this vector force on the spine, giving it some relief.

Inversion therapy can benefit back pain by improving the health of the intervertebral disks.  Intervertebral disks are small cushions that exist between each level of vertebrae. Those jelly filled cushions squish outward under the pressure of physical activity and being upright. Under muscle strain or spasm, the disc can actually bulge outward. If this process coincides with a tear in the disc casing, a disc herniation can occur. In the event of a disk herniation, the jelly like nucleus pulposus makes a finger like projection into the foraminal space where the spinal cord and nerve roots reside. Physical contact with these structures can cause pain and disrupt neurological function.

By hanging upside down, the cushion changes shape and has a chance to refresh itself. The aging spine generally looses one to five centimeters during a lifetime due to thinning disks. As a baby, intervertebral disks are 90 per cent water. That water content drops to 70 per cent by age 70.  A regular inversion program can help maintain one’s height and healthy function of the spine.

The Dimberg/Volvo study concluded that inversion therapy for 10 minutes once or twice daily decreases employee sick days due to back pain by 33 per cent. One third better productivity is noticeable. This suggests that inversion is an efficient and inexpensive way to improve employee health and reduce costs to the employer.

Inversion therapy increases oxygen to the brain. Maintain your cognitive functioning by improving blood flow cerebrally. Drain blood from varicose veins and alleviate the venous pressure in the leg vessels. Inversion therapy causes traction on ligaments and lengthens them. This effect improves functional fitness which is a measure of strength and flexibility that supports youthful movement and activity.

While doing a head stand may also work, the down side is it can hurt the neck. The beauty of using an automated inversion table is that there is no strain to the neck. At Opti-Balance we are proud to introduce the Teeter DFM Inversion Table. It is a comfortable and easy to use way to revitalize your back.


Dr. Tara Macart owns Opti-Balance Naturopathic Medicine in Qualicum Beach with her husband Jonathan.