This year I turned 35 years old. I can’t believe it. I rang in my new year with two herniated discs in my neck and never felt such excruciating pain – debilitating actually.
I saw multiple doctors. Anything to get rid of the pain and get me back to normal. An Orthopedic surgeon, acupuncturist, Chiropractor – you name it I probably pursued it.
Unfortunately for me, nothing really helped, until my parents bought me an inversion table for my birthday.
Now to most, this probably seems like a weird sort of gift. But, if you know my father and our family – it’s not really weird at all.
So from July 29th until today I have incorporated hanging upside down into my physical fitness routine of the day and I can’t believe I never tried this before! And, I’m happy to report the pain is finally gone.
What is Inversion?
Inversion is an ancient technique that dates back to around 400 B.C during the time of Hippocrates. Inversion is simply hanging upside down using specially designed equipment.
If you thought hanging upside down to relieve back pain is some wacky, new age idea?
Evidence shows Ancient Egyptians have been practicing inversion therapy since antiquity. We know for sure that inversion was used at least as early as 400 B.C., when Hippocrates, the father of medicine, first watched a patient have his knees and ankles tied to a ladder to be hoisted upside down for a dose of what has come to be known as inversion therapy.
They were labeled crazy, quacks and charlatans. But they were forward thinkers, ahead of their times, just like the great minds of the past who modernized our world.
Today, the Greek theories on inversion are still valid, but today there is a much easier way to relieve the back pains most people experience from time to time.
For centuries traction had been one of the primary doctor prescribed therapies for back problems. Recently pain medication and surgical treatments became popular. Even though traction was recommended for centuries sometimes modern doctors will advise against inversion therapy.
One of the main reasons doctors today advise against inversion is because they do not understand that the user has total control over the angle of incline and extreme angels that may concern the physician are not recommended nor are they usually necessary for achieving great benefits.
What some doctors need to realize is that a person can set the table for horizontal or any mild degree of incline. When very mild angles are used the stresses on the body are minimal and any risks are reduced.
If you think about it inversion makes a lot of sense.
In the development of life on earth, no force is of greater consequence than the force of gravity. This force, without the intelligent use of exchange of postures, can deform, disable or even destroy your body. Gravity applies its constant, relentless force to the pliable, moldable, movable structures of the body; much like a potter manipulates and molds clay.
One doctor suggested that there are six basic human postural categories. Three of them are common postures. Most people spend their lives, twenty-four hours a day in these postures. The other three postures are uncommon.
Sitting and standing are the two main compression postures. We spend 2/3 of our lives in these postures every day. These postures put a tremendous amount of pressure to the spine, discs and to the weight bearing joints of the body.
Compressional fatigue shows up as sagging of the facial skin, chest, breasts and abdomen are the most obvious. And the less obvious is what is not visible but happens to the spine and discs subsequently.
Since we cannot see with the naked eye what’s going on inside we do not place a lot of importance to it.
That’s why it makes so much sense to hang upside down and decompress the body. All that compression needs to be reversed.
If you are in a vertical position, which is standing, sitting, bending forward this causes compression. But if you incorporate movement to any of these three postures you can negate some of the compressive force of gravity. This is one reason why exercise is so good for you.
The natural laws of nature by which we all live greatly affect our daily lives. The sun rises in the morning, travels the course of the day and sets in the evening. It is an inevitable cycle. The moon rises and sets and the tides are affected by the moon’s cycle.
There are some tides that rise to a height of 16 feet. Gravity pulls this tide of water down again when the moon is taken away. The same effect is produced on our body. These things are unchangeable; they always will be, and so, when we recognize this effect they have on our lives, we can adjust ourselves to them.
Gravity is a law of nature that affects the human body just as much as it affects the trees and plant life. We cannot escape this inevitable law of nature, and so we should adapt ourselves to some procedure where by we can overcome any ill effects we might suffer because of the affects of this.
We exist under this law also and if we are tired and exhausted, we feel the pull of gravity pulling us down – we wish to lie down and rest.
Over time, the compressive force of gravity is particularly harsh on the spine because of the flattening effect on the spinal discs.
The intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebra, and consist of a cartilage covering which surrounds a gelatin-like center. Combine the compressive effect of gravity with stress, weak back and stomach muscles, a lack of exercise and you have all of the ingredients for back pain.
Back pain is one of the most common physical complaints in the world. Every day, it is estimated that some eleven million Americans struggle to get through a day complicated by an aching back. In the United States alone, some 93 million workdays are lost each year due to back problems.
There is overwhelming evidence that spending a few minutes each day hanging inclined can be beneficial to your back, and to your general health, by simply counteracting the continuous downward pull of gravity.
Besides providing relief from back pain, a daily dose of inversion can help to promote good health by correcting common spinal alignment problems, eliminating tension headaches, reducing hemorrhoids, alleviating the discomfort of varicose veins, and stimulating mental alertness.
Many people suffer; especially in their later years from prolapsed internal organs that sag as a result of years of the downward pull of gravity.
Quite simply, inversion allows gravity to help the body to naturally correct and align itself. You stretch out and elongate your spine, get blood to the brain, invert and reposition internal organs, and take stress off of the heart, which usually has to pump blood uphill to the brain.
Of course, it is impossible to offset the gravitational effects of a lifetime just by jumping on an inversion table. But by spending a few minutes inverted each day, or two or three times a day, people usually begin to feel results by the end of the first week.
After a month of inversion, many people don’t know how they ever got along without it.
Both physicians and chiropractors report positive results from using natural gravity-inversion traction with patients.
A neurosurgeon in San Francisco says inversion seems to get people over the acute phase quicker than other forms of therapy. We believe that inversion can benefit the discs, strengthen ligaments and soft tissues, and relieve muscle spasms. We’ve also had success with patients suffering from herniated discs.
Other health and anti-aging benefits are: Improved circulation especially to the head and face; Relief of muscular tension in the neck and back, improved lymphatic circulation; and improved function of the glands and organs due to the hydrostatic/decongestioning effect of inversion. In addition, improved brain function of memory, coordination and balance has also been reported.
However, there are a few conditions that may prevent one from hanging upside down.
Obvious contraindications are if you just had abdominal or chest surgery or have a recent rib or collarbone fracture. Persons with extremely high blood pressure or glaucoma may not be suitable. Every person is different and needs to be evaluated as such. If you have a contraindication you may not want to hang. Or, do a trial by using a mild angle on your inversion machine (20-30 degrees) and see how you feel.
Certainly Inversion is not for everybody. There are some contraindications, which I have already mentioned. However, it would certainly be foolish NOT to try Inversion if you have been suffering with back pain.
As with any new exercise program, if someone is in doubt about his or her level of fitness, or if they are over the age of 40, consult a physician before starting an inversion program.
The key is to do your homework and explore all your options first.
The body is the most amazing machine that has ever been constructed and the work that it does in repairing itself is almost unbelievable. God, who created this wonderful mechanism, is also able to maintain it in perfection, if we follow His natural laws.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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