T Nation

Inversion Tables


I know this has nothing to do with programming but I wanted to know know if any of you have had any experience with inversion tables. For several years I worked as an arborist and my body took a beating especially my knees and lower back. I still get a tightness in my lower back and a friend of mine suggested and inversion table. Are they worth it?

Just so you know I am 56 and doing a 2 day routine as follows:

Squat 5/3/1 Multiple FSL
Bench 5/3/1 Multiple FSL
Chins 5x10
Back Extension 3x10
Face Pull/Triceps Extension 3x10
Prowler walking for strength

Dead Lift 5/3/1 SLDL 3x5
Press 5/3/1 Multiple FSL
Barbell Rows 5x10
Barbell Curl 3x10
Prowler walking for strength

Conditioning and Stretching/Mobility (Defrancos Agile 8 and Airdyne) Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday


I can tell you that Jim has one and it provided him with a lot of relief prior to his back surgery a few months ago. there was a point where I was considering getting one, and like most “equipment” purchases his advice was to spend a bit more on one of the better ones that holds your ankles securely- I’m thinking the ones with ankle cuffs as opposed to the foam roller pads like on a decline bench.

I don’t know if Jim is still using it post-surgery.


I have one, works great for me. I either do it on it’s own, or part of relaxed mobility work (that’s what I call mobility work where I’m lying on the floor and rolling my legs side to side, getting in relaxed stretches for 3-5 minutes at a time, etc - not the Agile 8 at warmup).


Inversion tables can be good but I can see how they could aggravate some ssues. If possible, try one out before you buy one. And if you do buy one, make sure it can handle your weight and is sturdy. Don’t hang upside down from some Wal-Mart trash. You wouldn’t train on it, don’t hang from it.


Just don’t do any inversions on your moon cycle.


I’ve tried the tables and could never get quite comfortable. I could never get the foot/ankle supports quite tight enough, so it always feels as if my ankle is slowly being pulled apart. What I use are the gravity boots (also called inversion boots). They cinch around your lower leg right above the ankles, and have a hook on them so all you need is a pull up bar - I even used them on my kids swing set in the back yard (not the top tube, the set had a ‘trapeze bar’ thingy).

From personal experience, the boots have done a lot to give me relief from my pinched sciatic. I would get periodic flare ups where one leg or the other would have shooting pains, especially when sitting down. After using the boots consistently for a while, the flare ups rarely happen anymore.

Like Jim said, try one out if you can. The tables are also easier to use for some people. With the boots, I have to do an inverted sit up to get back up where I can unhook when I am done.