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A Question for Julie - Inversion Tables

Posted by Darlene on 8/13/04 at 12:46 (157760)


Thanks for all the great information you have been posting.

What do you think of inversion tables? I've been sitting for almost 7 months now after unsuccessful morton's neuroma surgery that led to tts and would like to do something to take the pressure off of my spine. I'm a little concerned that the ankle straps may put pressure on my tt area. Do you have an experience with these? My friend who is in teacher training tried to hang me upside down, but my feet wouldn't allow me to climb on the wall properly.

Thanks again.


Re: A Question for Julie - Inversion Tables

Julie on 8/13/04 at 16:42 (157778)

Darlene,the inversion table is very good for elongating the spine - it helps to open up the spaces between the vertebrae and takes the pressure off the discs. It's good for the circulation, too, because, like any inverted yoga posture, it speeds the return of blood to the heart. And it feels good - at least, I've liked it whenever I've had the opportunity to use it.

You shouldn't use it if you have high or low blood pressure, or any eye or ear problems, such as glaucoma, that might be adversely affected by the increased blood flow to the head. If there are no contra-indications, I'd give it a try - as long as the ankle straps don't give you pain.

But unless you buy your own inversion table, and use it every day, the relief will be only temporary and intermittent. Why not see what you can do to improve your sitting posture? When sitting, don't slump and slouch (so easy to do, so hard to avoid!). Instead of sitting in an easy chair, sit on a firm kitchen chair. Plant your feet on the floor for good support, sit on your sitting bones (not on your coccyx) and stretch up through the whole length of your spine. Keep your chin parallel to the floor or slightly tucked in, so that you lengthen through the back of your neck.

I'm not suggesting that you do this all day long, but if you do it several times a day for 10 or 15 minutes each time, you'll find it helpful. While you're in that good sitting position you can do breathing/stretching exercises: a simple one is to raise your arms forward and up as you breathe in, lower them as you breathe out. Another: raise your arms sideways and up as you breathe in until they're parallel; lower them breathing out.

You can move the spine and exercise all the back muscles very effectively while sitting in a chair. There are several ways of doing seated forward bends, backward bends, side stretches and twists. I mentioned my book, Office Yoga, yesterday or the day before - if you could get hold of a copy you'd find it helpful. If you're interested, key my name, Julie Friedeberger, into Amazon: they have 20-odd second hand copies.

I hope this is useful. I've taught very old and disabled people in chairs (including wheelchairs) and I know that it's possible to keep active even if chairbound.

Re: Thank you Julie...

Darlene on 8/13/04 at 23:18 (157804)

I was able to order a used (new) copy from within Canada. I can't wait to get it. In the meantime I will work on my sitting posture and take some time to do the breathing/arm exercises you mentioned.


Re: Thank you Julie...

Julie on 8/14/04 at 03:06 (157817)

That's good, Darlene. I hope you'll enjoy using the book. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Re: Thank you Julie...

Rose on 8/14/04 at 12:17 (157846)

Just a thought. I have also had bad spine problems, but after having the surgery for PF and neuroma in both feet at the same time, the only exerise I could do is water. For the past year I have been doing water aerobics 5 times a week. Since my feet should not touch the bottom of the pool, I stay in the deep part and do all the exercises. It is very aerobic and I can now tread water for up to 30 minutes. Also, an added benefit is that my spine has really elongated from being extended and hanging in the water at least five hours a week. So this does the same sort of thing. My back is ever somuch better now. So are many others in the calss. What do you think????

Re: Thank you Julie...

Julie on 8/14/04 at 14:55 (157863)

I think you're probably right, Rose. Exercising in water is good for all the joints, including the spinal joints, precisely because they aren't bearing weight. Add to that benefit the fact that you (a) haven't been on your feet so much and therefore are not jarring your spinal joints and (b) have probably been doing more exercise than you were before anyway, and there you are.

Another blessing to count!

Re: A Question for Julie - Inversion Tables

Ed Davis, DPM on 8/14/04 at 15:30 (157871)


I bought one for my wife. She uses it for her lumbar discs just about every day. It is a bit hard on the feet as one hangs with a lot of pressure on the feet. We have found that a hiking boot seems to be the easiest on the feet/ankles. One good thing about most inversion tables nowadays is that one does not have to go all the way back, the motion is controllable with regards to speed and angle.

A less expensive option and one that is often overlooked is the Roman Chair, a very simple device that basically allows one to do a 'reverse' sit up while decompressing the spine. It is potentially safer for some.
Being inexpensive, it tends not to get 'pushed' in exercise stores but I feel it can be quite valuable. Again, when doing the reverse sit up, it should be done slowly, particularly on the 'downstroke' allowing eccentric contraction of the paraspinal muscles while the vertebrae are gradually distracted by gravity. One must be careful, on the upstroke, not to come up too high; in other words come up to just before the point that the back is arced (lumbar curve accentuated).

Re: A Question for Julie - Inversion Tables

john h on 8/14/04 at 18:20 (157889)

Ed: My former inversion table came with very heavy duty boots with hooks on them that spread the force over the entire foot.

Re: A Question for Julie - Inversion Tables

Janice N on 8/14/04 at 21:51 (157916)

You know what feels good too if you have your bed against the wall and you can press your feet against it. You can kind of walk your toes up it a bit. And just pressng your feet flat againt the waal feels good for a little bit. It just helps you to be able to exericse them a little differently.

Re: A Question for Julie - Inversion Tables Julie

Janice N on 8/14/04 at 22:03 (157917)

I fractured my coccyx about 8 yrs ago after a fall in a grocery store. I still can't sit for long after all these yrs. Doesn't matter what I sit on or how. My center of gravity is sure different. When I do sit I look like I am going to get up and walk off any minute. I have to sit forward. Or I get up and move around or lean over a chair. Very hard to visit with others etc. You have any ideas or suggestions? I can't lay on my back at all. Don't think pain in this area doesn't hurt. And hurt yrs later. If you think cortisone hurts shot in your foot you should try a shut there. eeeewe baby it hurt!!!!!!!!! I had an asthma attack the second time just waiting for it.
It wasn't fuuny at the time but I took a nurse friend with me. She was just trying to help calm me down. She said now take a deep breath and calm down. The Dr said stick a big needle in your butt and see if you can calm down. hahahahahahahahaahha It sure wasn't funny at the time and like I said she meant well.

Re: A Question for Julie - Inversion Tables Julie

Julie on 8/15/04 at 02:21 (157933)


Coccygeal pain (pain in the butt) certainly is no joke. One suggestion: it seems there is a special pillow to sit on for people with your problem. It's called a 'donut pillow', and it's described on the excellent website http://www.spine-health.com/ , The pillow is described on this link http://www.spine-health.com/topics/cd/pillows/pillows02.html but it's rather far down, so I'll copy it for you:

'Donut pillows. As the name implies, this is a donut-shaped pillow that is placed on the seat portion of the chair. With either a depression or a hole in the center of the pillow, one can sit with much less pressure in the coccyx region. People who have suffered a broken or bruised tailbone or have coccygeal pain (such as coccydynia) may need this type of pillow in order to sit without pain.'

I didn't know all this, but I when I saw your post I thought there ought to be a cushion with a coccyx-hole to take the pressure off while sitting, so I did some googling. After I found the spinehealth pillow article, I looked for a place where you can buy a donut pillow, and here it is:


And here's a website that gives an overview of coccygeal pain and its causes (including fracture), and suggests various medical treatment modes.


I hope this helps.