- 1 What is an inversion table?
- 2 Benefits of inversion therapy
- 3 Top 10 inversion therapy tables
- 4 Does an inversion table help lower back pain?
- 5 Inversion table brands reviewed by USA Home Gym
- 6 Top design features to look for
- 7 What’s the best inversion table for your budget?
- 8 Best inversion table under $100 – Confidence Pro
- 9 Best inversion table under $150 – Ironman Gravity 1000
- 10 Best inversion table under $200 – Ironman Gravity 3000
- 11 Best inversion table under $300 – Ironman iControl 600
- 12 Best inversion table over $300 – Teeter EP-960
- 13 Inversion table risks
- 14 Inversion table terminology
If you suffer from lower back pain (LBP), you’re not alone. In fact, LBP is one of the most common reasons patients visit physicians and emergency rooms across the U.S., with 3.4 million emergency department visits in 2008 specifically related to back problems.
The same year also saw 13.6 million U.S. adults suffering from some form of spinal condition, with 23.7% of these reporting a limitation in physical functioning – a 7% increase from 10 years earlier.
Unfortunately these numbers are still rising, with some form of LBP affecting an estimated 80% of us at some time in our lives. So what can you do to prevent and resolve lower back pain?
Surgery is certainly an option, but when procedures like lumbar fusion surgery cost $150000 or more, this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.
Unfortunately the cost of treating back pain continues to rise. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found overall treatment costs rose 65% between 1997 and 2005 to $85.9 billion nationally.
The fusion surgery for degenerated discs was sighted as one of the most overused procedures, despite studies showing this is often no better than a comprehensive rehab and exercise program.
This is where inversion tables come in.
Although there are now dozens of different designs available, they all focus around the same basic movement and goal – to rotate your body into an inverted position and relieve back pain.
We’re now going to take a closer look at the health benefits of inversion tables, as well as providing you with a top 10 list of recommended models.
What is an inversion table?
An inversion table is usually comprised of two main components – a comfort bed mounted on an adjustable boom, and the A-frame that supports it.
The level of comfort provided by the bed / back support can vary between half an inch of padding, and a full 2.5″ of memory foam. Removable pillows for your head, neck, and lumbar region are also an option on some of the high-end models.
The construction of the frame will also vary depending on the price, but most will include a scratch resistant protective coating to improve durability.
Thickness of the steel used in the frame is often an indicator of the weight capacity, with entry level tables usually supporting up to 250 lbs, compared to the 350 lbs+ of some bestsellers.
Every inversion table will also offer some form of secure ankle holder system, which is used to prevent you from sliding down the table once the inversion angle goes past 90 degrees.
The adjustable boom provides you with a range of height settings to help control the weight distribution, which is what’s used to start your inversion.
If you have the correct setting, you should be able to invert simply by slowly raising your arms above your head. Coated safety handles are often available to assist you if needed.
Prices between brands and models do vary, but not as significantly as for other forms of fitness equipment. You can find entry level designs for around $100, but should expect to pay anything up to $500+ for a top-of-the-line model from Teeter with all the accessories.
Later in this guide we’ll find the best inversion table for every budget, which will include in-depth reviews of the winners.
Benefits of inversion therapy
It’s important to mention that inversion therapy isn’t for everyone, and it’s worth checking our list of health risks to see if it’s the best form of therapy for relieving your own back pain.
If you get the all clear from your doctor or a licensed physician to include inversion therapy in your back health program, it brings with it a number of health benefits.
- Improved joint health
Even if you don’t include running and other high-impact exercise as part of your overall fitness plan, day-to-day movements can place a strain on your joints.
Regular inversion therapy sessions aim to negate the effects of compression by effectively reversing the force placed on your back when standing, sitting, and exercising.
- Expands the spine
There have been several scientific studies that looked into reducing internal disc pressure in lumbar discs, specifically around the lower back region.
One such study was carried out by Nachemson, Alf, et al in 1970, which measured internal disc pressure across a range of activities. This included sitting, standing, and reaching down.
The results of this study indicated that a traction load of 60% body weight can significantly reduce the residual pressure placed on your lower back while standing.
- Increases blood circulation
This is one of the most popular benefits quoted on the product page of many inversion therapy tables.
The assumption is that as you invert, the brain will be flooded with freshly oxygenated blood. A similar idea is behind the Shirshasana Yoga pose.
By moving to an inverted position, even for relatively short periods of time, venous blood flow is encouraged back up from the legs and pelvis to the heart, before being pumped through the lungs.
- Lowers pulse rate?
Based on the studies and research papers we’ve read, inversion sessions don’t always guarantee a drop in pulse rate.
A study published in ‘Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism’ in 2009 examined physiological responses to complete inversion in a seated position.
The same study also looked at neuromuscular response times, which showed a 19.3% decrease in instantaneous strength.
But the key take away here is that heart rate decreased by 12.4%.
However, this study included just 16 subjects, so we started looking for something similar with a larger sample size.
Unfortunately the next study we came across was only slightly larger in size, with 20 participants.
Published in the ‘Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association’, this study looked at the effects of inversion on the pulse rate of healthy young adults.
After 8 minutes in the inverted position, researchers noticed no significant difference in pulse rate. The sample size included 10 men and 10 women averaging 23 years old who weren’t on any medication.
So overall, although we found some evidence of inversion therapy lowering pulse rate, we haven’t found enough evidence on a large enough sample size to definitively say one way or the other.
Some of the other benefits commonly associated with inversion therapy include:
- Nourishing the spinal discs
- Helps in recovering from high intensity workouts
- Counteract the compression of spinal discs caused by gravity and weak stomach muscles
- Assists with correcting spinal alignment
- Helps with stretching muscles pre and post workout to prevent risk of injury
- Assists lymphatic system for longer workouts with less chance of increase the moisture surrounding connecting tissue and between vertebrae
Top 10 inversion therapy tables
Finding the best inversion table for use in your own home isn’t easy. With such a broad range of design features ranging from infrared therapy to adjustable starting positions, it can be difficult to pick the best option out of the dozens of designs currently available.
That’s why as well as explaining the benefits of inversion therapy, we’ve also shortlisted the top 10 inversion therapy tables for all experience levels and budgets.
This is an unbiased selection that hasn’t been influenced by any single manufacturer, but you may notice a general trend towards tables from a couple of the market leaders.
We also have complete in-depth reviews for each of the tables listed below. Just click on any of the images to discover what we found.
|Name||Product Features||Price Range($)||Rating (1 to 5)||Review|
|Ironman Gravity 1000 Inversion Table||$||4.5|
|Ironman Gravity 3000 Inversion Table||$||4.5|
|Ironman Gravity 4000 Inversion Table||$||4.5|
|Ironman IFT 4000 Infrared Inversion Table||$$$||4.5|
|Innova ITX9700 Memory Foam Inversion Table||$||4.5|
|Teeter Hang Ups EP-550 Inversion Table||$$$$||4.5|
|Teeter Hang Ups EP-950 Inversion Table||$$$$||4.5|
|Ironman ATIS 4000 Inversion Table||$$$$||4|
|Exerpeutic Stretch 300 Inversion Table||$||4.5|
|Ironman iControl 600 Inversion Table||$$$||4.5|
Of course, these aren’t the only inversion table reviews we have on the site, and if you would like to take a look at some different designs, we also have a useful comparison table to help you make an informed buying decision.
Does an inversion table help lower back pain?
Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most common reasons to visit a physician, as well as one of the most common causes of absenteeism from work.
Usually caused by poor sitting posture, sitting for extended periods, heavy lifting, or frequently bending down, this can lead to a number of related health problems, such as bulging discs and reduced mobility.
So how much of an effect does inversion therapy really have on LBP?
One randomized controlled study was carried out by Mastercare, and published by Lennart Dimberg PhD, and Lars-Göran Josefsson PhD.
The sample size was 116 people with a study duration of 12 months. These people were split into two training groups and a controlled group:
- Group 1: Inversion for 10 minutes, once per day
- Group 2: Inversion for 10 minutes, twice per day
- Group 3: Control group, no inversion
After 12 months, people in the first two groups had decreased sick days due to back pain by 33%.
Inversion table brands reviewed by USA Home Gym
As with any of our reviews, we try to keep our assessment of inversion therapy tables as unbiased and balanced as possible, which means highlighting any issues alongside the benefits.
This also means we have no agenda over which brands we show a preference to, and review each product according to the price category it falls into, and on its own merits.
That being said, there are inevitably going to be some companies that have a wider product catalog than others, which is why you may notice more reviews for inversion tables from Ironman and Teeter Hang Ups.
We currently hold inversion table reviews for:
- Teeter Hang Ups
- Confidence Fitness
- Innova Fitness
- Body Max
- Health Mark
Top design features to look for
Before you decide on which inversion table to buy, we wanted to share with you our 10-point checklist that we use to assess each table in our reviews.
If you happen to find a table that we haven’t yet covered, hopefully these will help you assess the overall quality and make informed comparisons between other options you might be interested in.
This is the first thing we check when reviewing any new inversion table.
If you’re anything like us, your inversion therapy sessions won’t involve a spotter, and in most cases there’s not going to be anyone else around.
So what do you look for if you want to guarantee your safety, even at full inversion?
Anything that limits the inversion angle and rotation speed is a good place to start. Make sure the table you’re looking at has either a safety bar, safety tether cord, or locking mechanism like the iControl collection from Ironman.
You’ll also want to consider the length of the safety handles. Teeter tend to favor shorter handles on their earlier models, whereas the later EP950 and EP-960 models provide the full length option.
Warranty coverage can be a useful indicator of the overall build quality, but this isn’t particularly reliable as there are many bestselling designs with comparatively short warranties.
- Comfort and cushioning
Most inversion therapy sessions won’t last longer than a few minutes. Between 8 and 10 is recommended, but it’s still important to be as comfortable as possible.
The density of the cushioning on the back support varies greatly between designs. For entry level tables you might have no more than 0.75″, but for the top-of-the-line models you’ll be looking at 2.5″ of memory foam.
But it’s not all about the foam. The most you’ll see on a Teeter Hang Ups table is on the head support, with the flexible ComforTrak Bed compensating for any change in weight distribution.
A thicker cushion is better for pure inversion therapy, whereas thinner cushioning is fine for locking tables like Teeter’s, where you can also perform ab workouts.
In reality we’ve seen very few complaints on any inversion table relating to an uncomfortable back support. However, the ankle holders are a different story.
Check the model you’re interested in to see if it uses ergonomically moulded ankle cushions, or more generic foam rollers.
- Size of the footprint
Teeter offer some of the most compact inversion tables in the industry, but they’re premium designs that aren’t suitable for all budgets.
But due to their A-frame design, you shouldn’t have to look far to find a table that folds to some degree, even if it requires a certain level of disassembly.
Ironman are an excellent example, where each table can be folded down within seconds (with the exception of their ATIS designs). The only issue is they aren’t freestanding when you pull the A-frame together, and the ankle holders stick out slightly even at the shortest height setting.
In most cases you’ll have to compromise a little on the folded footprint to get the best value for money.
- Base stability
Fixed-frame designs like the ATIS will always provide the best stability, but even at 90-degree inversion, you’re not likely to face issues with any of the designs we review on this site.
The width and length of the footprint is enough to prevent any unwanted movement, but on hard floors it also helps to have some form of traction built into the base.
The lower priced Body Max designs won’t offer quite the same thickness of rubber feet as the Ironman Gravity collection, but they should still be more than adequate in most situations.
- Height and weight limits
The inversion process works around a simple fulcrum design – a point on which the adjustable boom section is supported and around which it pivots.
But if you plan on using the steeper inversion angles and have maximum control over the speed of rotation, you’ll want to get the weight distribution exactly right.
It’s relatively easy to find tables that support a height range of between 4’10” and 6’6″, and body weights of between 250 lbs and 350 lbs. If you’re too far outside of these parameters you might want to reconsider inversion tables and opt for gravity boots or an inversion chair instead.
Ideally you should be able to find a height setting where simply raising your hands above your head starts the rotation.
- Warranty coverage
If you’ve shopped around for fitness equipment in the past, warranty coverage was likely to be something you used in your comparisons.
It’s a factor in our reviews too, but for inversion tables you should expect something a little different to a treadmill or elliptical.
Top-of-the-line machines in those categories will usually carry lifetime warranties, at least on the frame and potentially the parts as well.
For inversion tables you’ll usually be looking at 1 year on the frame and 90 days n parts for entry level designs. Some of the premium tables from Teeter will offer a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty, but we’re yet to come across any that offer something longer.
There aren’t many points of failure so we’re not sure why the warranty period is comparatively short, but it’s something worth bearing in mind when doing your research.
- Stretch handles or bar?
Modern inversion therapy tables have a wide range of uses. As well as supporting inversion therapy and abdominal workouts, some designs also have a stretch bar or stretch handles fitted to the rear frame.
Although they can also be used to assist your return to an upright position, their main benefit is allowing deeper stretching of your back and shoulder muscles, as well as your abs, obliques, and intercostals.
What’s the best inversion table for your budget?
Although many inversion tables follow the same basic design principles, there are a number of important differences between price ranges, brands, and their individual models.
Weighing up the advantages and disadvantages goes beyond a simple price comparison, and requires in-depth research into both negative and positive reviews.
But with such a wide range of designs now available, finding the best inversion table for your budget can be time consuming.
That’s why our guide includes a quick guide to the best table in each price range, backed up by our own unbiased and extensive reviews. This includes everything from the height settings and cushioning through to the assembly instructions and warranty coverage.
Best inversion table under $100 – Confidence Pro
With the fundamental design being so similar for most inversion tables, you’re going to discover fairly quickly that the majority fall within the $100 to $300 price range.
Although there are inversion products available for under $100, these will tend to be gravity boots like the GIB2’s from Body Solid, or EZ Up XL version from Teeter Hang Ups.
There’s also no shortage of inversion slings for Yoga poses, but if you’re purely interested in inversion tables, most of the time you’re going to need a slightly higher budget.
At the right time of year there are several designs from Best Choice Products that will be heavily discounted and fall into this price category, but it’s usually impossible to find a company selling a good quality inversion table for less than $100.
However, we did discover one design from Confidence, called their ‘Pro Folding Inversion Table, which was priced just under budget with an attractive 12 month warranty and 300 lb weight capacity.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best inversion table under $150 – Ironman Gravity 1000
We’ll start off by saying that this is without a doubt the most competitive price range for inversion tables.
Although you’re not quite up to the Teeter Hang Ups range ($300), you still have access to some proven bestsellers from companies that include Ironman, Body Max, Innova Fitness, and Exerpeutic.
If we based our decision on review count and average rating, we would have to choose one of the two top designs from Body Max, each of which has well over 700 reviews on Amazon alone.
However, their weight capacity falls towards the lower end of the scale at 250 lbs.
For just $20 more there’s an inversion table with a 300 lb capacity, wider back support, and ergonomically moulded ankle holders.
That table is the Ironman Gravity 1000, which also includes the full-length safety handles and the same warranty duration on frame and parts as the Body Max designs.
Product weight is also similar at 46 lbs, so you’re not going to be buying a heavier design that’s more difficult to move around.
The only exception to this recommendation would be if you were closer to 4’7″ in height, as the Body Champ IT8070 offers a slightly wider range of height settings than the Gravity 1000.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best inversion table under $200 – Ironman Gravity 3000
This is a price range that’s equally as competitive as the one above, but you can also add Infrared Therapy to the list of features to look out for, with the IFT 1000 from Ironman, and ITM4800 from Innova Fitness.
Sunny Health and Fitness – a company that has experienced great success with their rowing machine and exercise bike collection – also has an inversion table in this category called the SF-807, but we’re still seeing one clear winner.
Ironman have built on the success of their Gravity 1000 model by adding three more designs to the Gravity collection – the 2000, 3000, and 4000.
This may be controversial, but the Ironman Gravity 3000 is our top choice of inversion therapy table for this category.
The price for the 3000 and 4000 models will vary throughout the year, but at the time of writing this guide they were both available for between $190 and $200, with the Gravity 4000 being the slightly higher priced of the two.
Bearing in mind both tables offer the patented ratchet system for the ergonomically cushioned ankle holders, have the same 350 lb capacity, same 2.5-inch thick foam padding, 180-degree inversion range, and warranty coverage, what is there to separate them?
One of the only differences we found was that the Gravity 3000 model has the handles attached to the base frame for deeper stretching and more control over the rate of inversion.
In our mind this stretching brings more benefit than the removable lumbar pillow that accompanies the Gravity 4000, but that priority may change based on your own reasons for inverting.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best inversion table under $300 – Ironman iControl 600
A price range of between $200 and $300 is starting to get towards the top of the market, with significantly fewer models than our entry level and mid-range designs.
Ironman continue to be a popular name with their upgraded IFT 4000 Infrared Therapy table, but we’re also starting to see some variation in design and locking system.
The Body Power IT9910 is one of the only seated inversion systems available, starting you off in a seated position, then converting to a flat bed design as you invert.
We’re also starting to see a couple of the Teeter Hang Ups models, with their EP560 inversion table and one of their newest and lowest priced models – the Teeter 700ia.
But it’s another of the collections from Ironman that we’re interested in, specifically their iControl range.
The iControl 500 and iControl 600 models in particular offer some of the most supportive high density padding in the industry, at 2.75″. You also have a stretching bar fitted to the rear frame and a competitive 300 lb capacity.
The ankle holder features an innovative design that helps distribute weight more evenly and prevent discomfort, while the extra-length handle reduces the strain placed on your lower back when bending down to lock and release.
But it’s the disk brake inversion control system that really made the iControl inversion tables stand out for us.
Being able to securely lock the inversion angle without having to step off and adjust safety straps is a major advantage, and a clear benefit if you want to combine inversion therapy with abdominal exercises.Read the full reviewBuy now
Best inversion table over $300 – Teeter EP-960
This is a price range where Ironman still have a few unique designs, such as their ATIS collection that uses a similar rotation braking system as the iControl 600.
But once you get over $300, Teeter Hang Ups becomes the dominant name in top-of-the-line inversion table design, with four main models to choose from – the EP-550, EP-560, EP-950, and EP-960.
The EP-960 is our top choice for this price range, as it includes their EZ-reach Ankle System, and full length side handles for helping you control the rotation and return to an upright position.
You also have the handle built into the base of the rear frame for deeper muscle stretching, and Teeter’s EZ Tether Strap for limiting the maximum inversion range.
As with the other Teeter Hang Ups tables, the EP-960 is compatible with a range of accessory options, including their Acupressure Nodes and Lumbar Bridge, both of which are included with some packages.
The 5-year manufacturer’s warranty that it’s supplied with is one of the best in the industry, with a weight capacity of 300 lbs and a height range of 4’8″ to 6’6″.Read the full reviewBuy now
Inversion table risks
We should probably mention that these risks aren’t so much related to the inversion table, as they are to the inverted position itself.
As with any fitness equipment there’s the potential for worn components to effect the safe operation of any inversion table, so it’s important to check these on a regular basis.
However, basic equipment failure is incredibly rare, and we haven’t come across any reviews that had issues during the inversion. This is helped by having very few ‘wear’ parts, resulting in a low level of ongoing maintenance.
There are however several health warnings relating to inversion that are worth taking into consideration.
- Unsafe rise in blood pressure (Hypertension)
A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Physical Therapy back in 1986 measured changes in spinal disc alignment and blood pressure using a Gravity Gym and Gravity Boots (both inversion devices).
After subjects were inverted in the devices for a period of 7 minutes, researchers found their heart rate decreased and blood pressure increased an average of 20 mm Hg for both systems.
The conclusion of the study was that inversion is an effective means of spinal traction but isn’t something that’s suitable for all patients due to the elevated blood pressure.
It’s important to check with your doctor before starting any new inversion program, even if you’re only inverted for a few minutes each day.
- Rise in pressure in the eyes (Glaucoma)
The Glaucoma Research Foundation has also highlighted the need to inform your doctor of any inversion exercise which results in a head-down position for an extended period of time.
This advice isn’t unique to inversion tables (also applies to yoga poses such as headstands and shoulder stands), and is recommended for any Glaucoma patient.
A report was published in 1985 in the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ by Thomas R. Friberg, M.D., and Robert N. Weinred, M.D. which looked into the effects of inversion tables on the eyes.
Specifically, researchers measured intraocular pressure in the eye, which they found more than doubled during inversion. While this in itself doesn’t represent an issue, if you already have an eye disorder like Glaucoma then you should probably take an eye exam and check if it’s safe for you to use inversion tables as a form of lower back pain relief.
Although there have been several smaller studies like these, we’re still waiting to see the long-term effects of inversion on the optic nerve head measured across a larger sample size.
- Rise in ear pressure
This is a similar concern to the one we mentioned above, relating to increased pressure in the eyes (intraocular).
Intracranial ear pressure during inversion is something that you occasionally see mentioned as a concern surrounding inversion tables.
But in reality we haven’t come across a single scientific study that backs this up with any evidence. That being said, it’s certainly worth bearing in mind, and is a contraindication that Teeter highlight on their own website and in their product manuals.
Inversion table terminology
- Safety tether cord
Inversion tables use one of three controls to restrict the inversion range; tether cord, braking gear, and safety bar.
The tether cord is the most common, which is an adjustable strap that connects the underside of the bed to the front of the frame.
- Gravity boots
Also available as a stand-alone inversion device, these are just one of the attachment options available for the Teeter Hang Ups inversion tables.
- Braking gear
Another method of restricting the inversion angle, but offers much more control than the safety tether cord.
Seen on tables in the Ironman iControl collection amongst others, this allows you to lock and release the adjustable boom at the desired angle without having to stand up.
This is the best type of inversion table for anyone that wants to combine ab workouts with their inversion sessions.
- Acupressure nodes
Another accessory for the Teeter Hang Ups ComforTrak system, these adjustable nodes allow pin-point placement for a shiatsu style massage while you invert.
- Gravitational traction
Used to describe the hanging upside down suspension that forms the basis of inversion therapy. Often used to assist with widening of the intervertebral space in patients with lumbar disc herniation and disc degeneration.
- Roller hinges
If you discover an inversion therapy table with adjustable starting positions, they will usually be fitted with roller hinges.
They’re positioned on either side of the back support, and can be used to influence the weight distribution, making the inversion process easier or more difficult depending on the placing.