You Asked: Can Hanging Upside Down Relieve Back Pain?

If you’ve ever seen a TV commercial for inversion tables—those tilting contraptions that allow you to hang upside down by your ankles—and you suffer from back pain, you’ve probably been tempted to buy one.

The ads claim that by dangling upside-down, bat-like, you’ll create separation between the vertebrae of your spine and neck. That separation supposedly reduces pressure on the nerves running between and around these vertebrae. You’ll relax tense muscles, and increase the flow of “nutrients” to the disks of your spine—all of which should help relieve back pain and promote better physical health.

Maurits van Tulder, a professor of health sciences at VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, has studied the effectiveness of traction treatments for back pain. His research has shown that traction treatments—even the kinds performed with machines or a therapist’s able hands—are not effective remedies for back pain. Read more>>

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