Inversion therapy can be a useful tool in anybody’s arsenal if they suffer at all from back pain or poor posture. There is a small body of evidence supporting its efficacy in many cases.
During inversion therapy, you are suspended upside down, either fully or at least at a severe angle, thus altering the effect that gravity has on your back.
Several small studies – and a large body of anecdotal evidence – suggest that using inversion therapy can provide temporary relief from things like chronic back pain, sciatica, and herniated discs, whilst also bringing about a degree of relaxation. It can even reduce the need for back surgery in some users.
Obviously, it can be quite challenging to completely invert yourself for any amount of time (unless your surname is Dracula!). You will need special kit – enter the inversion table. They raise your feet above your head, keeping you safe and comfortable as you hang out upside down.
Below is a list of some of the best inversion tables out there.
Innova Inversion Table
I want to start you off with something simple and straightforward, that will get the job done.
The Innova Inversion Table has nothing fancy about it, but it keeps you feeling and being incredibly safe and secure, with no fear of falling out or the table itself collapsing. It is very well-designed, well-built, is easy and comfortable to use, and is incredibly durable.
This simplicity and fantastic design and build quality balance well in the Innova Inversion Table’s price – it’s somewhere in the middle price bracket of everything we’re looking at today.
It’s made from very durable, heavy steel that is designed to bear frequent use. It can take users weighing up to 300lbs (around 136kg), which is towards the higher end of most inversion table’s capabilities (some can go a touch higher, but not much). It should suffice for all but the largest athletes – and anybody weighing much more than this, unless they are particularly muscular, should likely be wary of using them in the first place (see below for more details).
The Innova Inversion Table itself is very comfortable to stay in for the minutes-long experience that most inversion sessions will be. It is padded, with a great, movable lumbar bed that gently supports the curve of your back as you lie against the table, and it hasn’t got any awkward shoulder straps, which I like.
The ankle holders leave a little to be desired. They aren’t too well padded, which can leave them lacking comfort – they might dig in a little. I would recommend a couple of pairs of thick socks when using it!
All in all, though, you get a mid-priced, incredibly well-built, very sturdy piece of kit with little fuss. I really quite like it.
Yoleo Inversion Table
Let’s go for the cheaper end of the market now, with Yoleo’s Gravity Inversion Table.
It will set you back just over a hundred quid or so, so is a lot cheaper than Innova’s offering. Nevertheless, it is still easy and safe to use, with a heavy-duty integrated steel frame making it equally as durable as Innova’s inversion table.
It’s easy to adjust, with a simple, easy reach adjustable ratchet ankle locking system and precision chuck buckle and safety lock pin system (which also, obviously, adds to the safety of the table). It has a three-angle adjustable rear cross bar for easy inversion angle adjustment, which you get in place of the usual strap system.
It’s a nifty design that I really respect.
Further adding to the utility of Yoleo’s Inversion Table, the whole thing is designed for ease and simplicity.
Yoleo’s Gravity Inversion Table is built ergonomically from some impressive materials. The frame is good-quality, heavy grade steel tubing, and the backrest incorporates high qualified memory foam. It is all designed to fully embrace your waist curve, releasing any pressure you might otherwise feel, and you get their True Balance system for ergonomically inverting your body, with a reversible ankle holding system. An adjustable pad keeps your head comfortable (and allows your spine to remain neutral, without tension).
It’s also convenient. It has a foldable design that keeps everything quite compact for ease of storage – though it doesn’t fold down perfectly in half, it is still very simple to get it into a decent sized cupboard or closet.
It’s cheap, well-built, easy to live with, safe, and comfortable. There’s little to argue with, here.
OneTwoFit Inversion Table
OneTwoFit’s Inversion Table is a direct competitor with Yoleo’s. They are both cheap, with OneTwoFit’s Inversion Table coming in at around a hundred and fifty pounds or so (so half or less of many other items on this list), and they are both incredibly solid and stable.
You get 1.2mm thick, heavy steel tubing with OneTwoFit’s Inversion Table. With a protective belt and nicely padded shoulder and ankle supports, it gives you a more comfortable, secure, safe inversion experience. It can support up to 330lbs (around 150kg, so comparably impressive to others on this list), making it suitable for all but the largest of users.
Everything is very adjustable and customisable with OneTwoFit’s Inversion Table. 16 height adjustments range from 130cm to 185cm; adjustable ankle straps and headrest pad allow for anyone of any height to feel comfortable and secure; and a three angle position (20, 40, and 60 degrees), adjustable rear cross bar makes inversion angle adjustment pretty simple.
As with Yoleo’s Gravity Inversion Table, OneTwoFit’s Inversion Table boasts an ergonomic design, with a fantastic memory foam backrest and soft sofa backrest (again, what’s not designed for safety in this inversion table seems made for comfort – it’s great). The bar holds your ankles safely and comfortably, giving little pressure into them during use.
Again, as with Yoleo’s table, OneTwoFit’s Inversion Table is completely foldable and portable. It is specially designed to be collapsible, making it convenient to store in any spare cupboard space.
They are similar, and I find them hard to separate. If you are in the market for an inversion table in the 120-150 pound mark, either will do you very well.
Teeter FitSpine X3
Right, I’ve had enough trying to save you money, now. Let’s look at something on the pricey end – Teeter’s FitSpine X3 can set you back nearly five hundred quid!
How is this price justified? Quite easily, actually.
The X3 has a wide array of very high-quality features: extra-long, aerospace-grade stainless steel ankle lock handles for easy securing; stretch assist and traction handles for added stretching options and assistance; acupressure nodes providing trigger-point release; lumbar bridge support to focus on traction on the lower back; their EZ-Angle tether, which features pre-set markings at 20, 40, and 60 degrees; patented wrap-around ankle cups for a comfortable, ergonomic fit.
This all adds up to give almost unparalleled comfort and utility.
This is enforced by the 8-point floating suspension system which moves with you, for greater range of motion, fluidity, and customisable and improved pressure and decompression. It will allow for greater body slide, which will truly help to stretch your back whilst keeping you comfortable as you run through the inversion.
You also get an amazing amount of control over everything during your inversion. It’s easy to change positions – simply moving your arms to shift your body weight will enable you to effortlessly invert and return to the upright position. There is also an optional lock-out in full inversion, so that you can relax and move how you like without rocking the boat.
There is also a free instructional DVD that comes with the X3, which I love – so many people using an inversion table at home won’t know what on Earth to do, so this kind of guidance is invaluable.
If you’ve got the money to spend, spend it – the X3 is fancy and wonderful. It is great.
Kemket Inversion Table
This is the cheapest item on our list. The Kemket Inversion Table will give you a decent amount of change from a hundred quid, which is astonishing when you look at some of the pricier models out there (some of them can set you back a grand or so, and they’re not even the outliers!).
There isn’t too much to say about the Kemket Inversion Table. You get a heavy duty, durable tubular steel frame with a powder-coated finish, a nicely soft, padded backrest, and foam rollers and ankle cushions to hold your ankles securely (and incredibly comfortably).
The Kemket Inversion Table goes to a full 180 degree inversion, and a three position roller hinge allows for speed control and rotation.
As with others on this list, the Kemket Inversion Table is fully foldable, surprisingly lightweight, and easy to move, making it simple to store when you’re not using it.
Other than this, it can reduce back pain, fight compression fatigue, and allow for full blood flow to the head – everything an inversion table should do, all for a fraction of the cost you would usually expect to be paying.
It is a little awkward to put together. This isn’t down to the build or design of the frame itself. The instructions are just awful – badly detailed, with tiny diagrams that are hard to make out, and poorly worded English that is quite hard to parse.
I ended up just looking at a picture of the finished thing and working it out from there. It took half an hour, then, which isn’t too bad.
All in all, the Kemket Inversion Table is a solid offering for an absolute steal.
YATEK Inversion Table
We get another high-quality inversion table with Yatek’s Deluxe Inversion Table, a piece designed for a broad range of user weights and heights. It can support up to 150kg, which is the good end of standard in this list and can accommodate users of up to 2m in height – which is pretty much everyone!
It is tough, too, with great durability and a reassuring weightiness to it. The Yatek Deluxe Inversion Table is robust feeling, which gives a great sense of security, whilst the foam backrest is incredibly comfortable.
You get fully adjustable angles at 20, 40, 60 and, of course, 180 degrees. The straps are all ergonomically designed, comfortable to use, and sturdy enough to allay any fears even in those approaching the 150kg upper weight limit.
I love the detachable massager, one of the prime features with the Yatek Deluxe Inversion Table. Though, of course, you could get a bog standard model and buy a separate foam roller, I love the two in one nature at work here, and the massager is genuinely lovely to use. If part of your back problems comes from achy, tight muscles, this is a must – it will relieve tension deep into the muscle tissue, leaving you feeling light and stress and pain free.
You get a multi-language manual for mounting and use. Whilst this isn’t as good as a DVD or app, as you get with many pieces of equipment, it’s still incredibly useful, especially for beginners (of whom there will be many).
As with many other offerings on this list, the Yatek Deluxe Inversion Table is fully foldable and easy to move thanks to its wheels, making it handy to store in a spare bit of closet space when you’re not using it.
How To Choose An Inversion Table
There are always a good few things that go into buying decisions for any fitness or physio kit. Things like design and build quality, of course, alongside price. However, sourcing is the first issue you should address.
I would suggest that most people look at going second hand when they can. Equipment can be very pricey, with full gym loadouts setting you back thousands if you let it. Getting preloved kit can greatly reduce this. Scour local pages, websites, ask friends, ask local gyms… do anything you can to get stuff together on the cheap. Your body won’t know the difference; the results will be the same either way.
Don’t do this with inversion tables.
Firstly, there is no need. As you have seen from my list, you can spend five hundred quid on one (you can spend a lot more if you want to), or you can get change from a hundred. If you want or need to save money, the budget options above are very good – go with one of them.
Secondly, you’re going to be hanging upside down from whatever inversion table you end up getting. Used devices cannot be depended upon – they might not be as resilient as you would like, and they won’t have any of the shop or manufacturer guarantees and warranties that you should expect to be given.
So, go new, from a trusted retailer or manufacturer. Then what?
Weigh yourself. Measure yourself.
Most inversion tables can accommodate all sorts – up to 150kg or so in many cases, and up to around 2m a lot of the time. However, if you suspect or know that you’re pushing the upper limits, here, take accurate measurements and double check the product specs. If in doubt, call the manufacturer.
Similarly, if you’re on the small side, you may need to be a little careful. Most inversion tables can accommodate down to 5 feet or so, but again, if you’re below this or on the cusp, double check everything. As with the upper limits, if in doubt, call the manufacturer.
Then there is the usual stuff you should be looking at in any piece of fitness or physio equipment, as mentioned above. These include things like durability, ergonomics, comfort (especially through the ankle supports), number and range of inversion angles available (usually 20, 40, 60 and 180 degrees or so, but this can vary), the padding quality and thickness, notably in the head and backrest, the quality of any shoulder or waist straps, the handgrips (type, number, quality), and any extras that come with them, like massage options and so forth.
Then, of course, there is the frame durability and stability. Again, you’ll be hanging upside down from the inversion table you end up buying. You don’t want something that will give out on you!
This goes two ways. You want it to be stable, as are all the items in the list above. However, inversion tables can be pretty heavy as a result, often coming in at 30kg or more. Therefore, you want to find one that folds and has wheels, to make it easier to manoeuvre; you want one that you can realistically either move by yourself, or with someone else, if someone else will often be readily available.
How Do Inversion Tables Work?
The science behind inversion tables, such as it is, is actually fairly simple.
The theory is that inversion – bringing somebody’s feet higher than their head, often at severe angles – will somehow reverse the effect of gravity on the body.
Gravity can cause muscles, joints, and bones in the posterior chain and back to compress the spine over time. This, in turn, can contribute to, or cause, chronic back pain.
Inversion therapy decompresses the spine, working almost like a massage. It opens up the spinal column itself and eases the muscles surrounding it, including the erector spinae, core muscles, and mid back muscles (typically the lower portions of the latissimus dorsi).
If you’re thinking of using inversion therapy – if you have any back issues due to poor spinal health, poor posture, aching/sore/tight muscles and so on – then talk to a medical advisor. They will be able to set you straight on them and answer any questions. They will also be able to guide you into the best programme for you – some users say they get optimum relief from two to five daily sessions that last for 1 to 5 minutes each, whilst others cannot cope with this kind of volume, whilst yet more can go for more like 5 to 10 minutes a go.
Are Inversion Tables Safe?
Broadly speaking, inversion tables are safe, as is inversion therapy as a whole. Most people without pre-existing medical conditions should be OK using them.
However, as above, everybody looking to use one should talk to their healthcare provider first.
There are some potential dangers for some people when using inversion tables. Hanging upside down decreases the heart rate while increasing blood pressure. It can also place undue pressure on the eyeballs and inner ears.
Because of this, inversion therapy may be unsuitable for those suffering from:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- history of stroke
- a hernia
- broken bones
People with conditions that affect the head may also want to avoid inversion therapy. These can include:
- ear infections
- pink eye
- retinal detachment
Inversion therapy may also be unsuitable for people who are taking blood clotting medications or blood pressure medications, nor is it recommended in women who are pregnant.
There is also a right way to go about viewing inversion therapy, and thus the use of inversion tables in your daily health and fitness regimen.
Inversion therapy should be a supplementary treatment as part of a wider medical regime. It is by no means a guaranteed treatment method, nor will it always work for everyone, nor will it always work in isolation from other treatments. If you have a bad back, you should not simply buy an inversion table and hope for the best – this will be inefficient and often outright dangerous.
Always use an inversion table under medical advice.