Manufacturers of inversion equipment (tables or chairs) introduce a number of models, each with slight differences in order to meet as many customers' needs as possible. There are a number of simple devices with bare bones features, but there are also devices equipped with infrared heaters or regular abs trainers. The fact that there is demand for all these various styles and configurations is proof positive that there are many different ways to use inversion tables and chairs. Luckily, the basic principles of operation remain the same for all of them.
Primarily, I'm going to go through the technical aspects of using inversion devices, but if you're looking for answers to questions like “how long” or “what angle?” don't hesitate to skip ahead to that section of this post.
Use Your Inversion Table Safely In Five Simple Steps
Before you begin your first inversion therapy session, you need to make sure that the inversion table or chair is sitting on a flat surface and has good clearance both in front and above so you can perform even a full inversion if you wanted to. After that, you need to follow a few basic steps in preparation for inversion.
Many inversion tables have adjustable pivot arms. If yours has that option, you should start by finding the right adjustment setting for yourself. The general rule here is: the more advanced the user, the higher holes he can choose. A first time user should go for the lowest possible set of holes, bringing the backrest as far as possible from the axis of rotation. This adjustment is responsible for the aggressiveness of inversion.
All inversion devices have a height adjusting bar with a scale on it to make the balancing easier. That's right, we said easier, not automatic. Just because you pick your proper height on the scale does not mean that the table will be properly balanced. This is because everyone's body weight distribution is different, so the right balance for you could be as much as three inches above or below your actual height.
Unless you are using a motorized inversion table, you will have to preset the maximum incline angle you wish to invert to. This can be achieved by adjusting the length of the tether strap or using the bar provided for that purpose. In some models, you'll even find both of these solutions.
You need to secure your ankles, so before you place yourself on your inversion device, check to see if it's possible to adjust the footrest on the model you own. For best results, adjust it so that the instep of your foot is as close as possible to the front holders. If you do this, you'll avoid sliding down along the backrest a few inches in a steep inversion. You will need to use some spanners to accomplish that, which could be annoying. Fortunately, there are some models that have a simple knob for securing the footrest. There are even a few models with a clever “comfort dial” solution!
Very few inversion devices are fitted with seat belts that have to be fastened before you start your inversion therapy.
At this point, many people might wonder how often, how deep, or how long to stay inverted to be on the safe side and reap maximum benefits from the inversion therapy. Unfortunately, there's no right answer here, other than to listen to your own body.
You can invert a few times a day if you like: before your morning coffee, after work, and again before you go to bed. The therapy can revive and refresh you, especially after you've spent several hours in a seated position. Just avoid inversion right after a meal.
The incline angle should be increased gradually, with you spending a couple of weeks at each. To fully decompress your spine, you need to invert to at least 60 degrees, which usually corresponds with the backrest position parallel to the back legs of your inversion table stand. Of course, you may see benefits at a much smaller angle of incline – it's different for each person.
How long to use an inversion table?
There are no strict guidelines regarding the time spent inverted. Usually 5-10 minutes works fine. If you feel uncomfortable, get back to the upright position. Just don't forget to remain in the horizontal position for a few moment before you get up so as to avoid dizziness.
It's worth mentioning that many inversion tables have the ability to lock out in full inversion, and these can be used as a great tool to strengthen and tone your abs, as crunches, sit-ups, or squats can easily be performed on these devices. If you think that these exercises in full inversion might be too much for you, then consider getting an inversion table fitted with braking gear. They can be locked at any angle, allowing you to adjust the amount of effort needed to perform the exercises to your needs.