How Does Hanging Upside Down Affect My Body

January 12, 2020

A woman is hanging upside down
Rasheed Huma

Hanging upside down goes by many names. You can call it inversion therapy, inverted traction, etc. It is an exercise whereby a person suspends his/her body upside down to relieve back pain or similar symptoms.

The goal with hanging upside down is to allow gravity to take the pressure off the nerve roots and spinal discs, so that your spine can stretch out and decompress. Some people find inverted spinal traction to be helpful, at least temporarily, for alleviating lower back pain due to spinal disk compression. It’s much like the spinal traction that chiropractors use to decompress their clients' spines and create space between the vertebrae.

However, when it comes to scientific-based evidence on the benefits of hanging upside down, the results appear to be mixed.

From a theoretical perspective, hanging upside down should benefit you by:

1. Opening up your Spine and Reducing Back Pain

Inversion therapy allows the entire spinal column to relax and make the vertebral column more spacious.

A study done on people with chronic low back pain showed that practicing inversion therapy at 60 degrees angle curtailed back pain after eight weeks.

2. Optimizing Spinal Health

By creating more space between the spinal discs and vertebrae, inverted traction kind of facilitates the delivery of protective fluid around spinal discs that rehydrates them. These discs act as shock absorbers, protecting your spine from any unanticipated damage.

The Nachemson medical study revealed how inversion could cause spinal pressure to fall to zero and potentially prevent disability from back problems. The authors also concluded that regular use of an inversion table may largely curtail the need for back surgery.

3. Bettering Flexibility

Another benefit that supporters of inversion therapy claim is the improved core strength and flexibility after hanging in this posture. According to them, this posture is supposed to speed up the circulation throughout your muscles and joints, making them more pliable and strong.

4. Realigning your Spine

Several everyday factors, such as sitting at the computer desk with a poor posture, carrying heavy bags on shoulders, lifting heavy weights, etc., tend to derange the spinal alignment. On the other hand, inverting the body to 60 degrees causes the pressure in the spine to drop to zero and help promote spine alignment, as shown in the Nachemson medical study. And it does make sense. When you invert your body and take the pressure off of your back, your spine gets an ample of space to stretch and move back into alignment.

5. Improving Focus and Brain Function

Your brain slurps up the largest amounts of oxygen and energy in your body to function well. When you invert upside down, oxygen-rich blood rushes to your head. More oxygen means better brain performance and improved focus.

But keep in mind, the evidence supporting these benefits is not sufficient. More research is needed to back up the efficacy of these theoretical benefits. Moreover, inversion therapy may not be safe for everyone, especially if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart disease, or osteoporosis. Hence, caution needs to be practiced before trying out this technique.

How to Hang Upside Down?

If you want to try out inversion therapy, you may start off by inverting at a lower angle for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time. If you feel any bothersome side effects, return to an upright posture slowly. Only if this technique doesn’t cause any side effects, you may then work up the minutes.

There are many ways to ease hanging upside down, such as inversion table, inversion gravity boots, inversion chairs, yoga slings, and even certain yoga postures. Using an inversion table, which enables you to control the degree to which you invert, could be one of the safer ways to practice inverted traction.

Swap your Sitting Desk with a Standing Desk

In addition to several other factors, sitting for long periods in poor posture can misalign your spine and shrink the space between vertebrae. Because inversion therapy has its pros and cons, we suggest using a standing desk instead of a traditional sitting one for improved spinal health. When you’re standing erect, you unknowingly pay more attention to your posture and keep it upright. A proper posture not only protects your spine from unwanted strains and pains, it also improves your overall health and appearance.

Moreover, our Value Electric Height Adjustable Desk EC1 - 42" W is also specifically designed in a way that provides an added ergonomic benefit to your body, promoting good posture and spine alignment. With its standard button up and down keypads, you can quickly adjust the desk frame and transition from sitting to standing or vice versa according to your height. Using this standing desk throughout the day can indirectly ease the pressure off your spine and prevent spinal misalignment, i.e., to say, you can reap almost all the benefits of inversion therapy but, of course, without any risks. 

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