Inversion therapy can do wonders for your back problems and is very definitely worth trying, but if you're not completely sold on the idea, then it might be a good compromise position to try it by getting a budget inversion table first. Then, if you find that it works for you, you can always upgrade later on. Fortunately, the major manufacturers offer a variety of inversion tables to suit every taste and budget.
Surprisingly, opting for a low end inversion table doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality. It's not like you're putting your life in danger by using tables on the lower end of the price spectrum. There are downsides, of course, and if you're shopping for budget inversion tables, you need to be aware of them and the limitations of the tables you'll be looking at. I'll outline what those are below and you can decide for yourself.
Most of the tables in the sub-$100 range come from the brand Emer, and have the same ankle holder system. It consists of front foam rollers, rear cuffs with rubber padding, ratchet locking, and a footrest. Of all ankle locking solutions on the market, ratchet locking with a long lever is the most comfortable solution as you can easily adjust the locking to the size of your ankles without bending too much to operate the mechanism.
Ankle holders never provide perfect comfort for the ankles, mostly because comfort is such a subjective thing and everyone's body weight, shape, and tolerances are different. The best we can do in terms of comfort is use vague terms like “mostly, rarely, possibly,” etc. The only way to truly gauge your comfort on one of these tables is to try it and see.
It is very likely that the tough rubber padding of the Emer inversion tables' ankle holders will dig into your feet. That's no big deal if you're only planning on being inverted for a few minutes, but much longer than that and you'll probably want to add a soft towel to the equation for added comfort. This, of course, will become more true the longer you plan on remaining inverted, and depending on the types of exercises you'll be doing while in that position.
In terms of putting the tables together, the assembly instructions for all these tables are almost universally bad. Fortunately, YouTube has a plethora of videos covering the assembly of nearly every make and model of table, and this should help you greatly. Also note that the tools provided with the tables are awful as well. You're much better off putting the table together with your own tools. You may also need to head to your local hardware store to pick up a few extra nuts, bolts, and washers as you may find yourself coming up a few short. Customer service can be somewhat difficult to get in touch with, though in the rare instance where there's some major piece missing, once you do reach them, they're generally happy to assist. Still, especially where low end tables are concerned, poor customer service is a common complaint.
When it comes to storage, there really are no easy solutions. Every table on the market is bulky and oddly shaped. This makes them awkward to move around. Emer inversion tables like the INVR-06B are not foldable at all, so you'll need to take that into account before you buy. On the other hand, not being foldable means that the table is more stable than its foldable cousins.
One additional factor to keep in mind regarding Emer tables is this: There are no aftermarket, or third party products for them, at least not that I have seen. This means that you won't be able to accessorize or upgrade your table in any meaningful way. Except for the lumbar pillow for the Emer INVR-06B table, which is too flat to be useful in most cases.
I hope I have not put you off of buying a budget inversion table. That's certainly wasn't my goal. I simply wanted to make you aware of the tradeoffs you'll be faced with when looking at tables in the sub-$100 market.