Inversion tables can provide a wide range of health benefits, from chronic back pain relief to improved circulation. But how do you find the best inversion table for your budget?
With so many fitness equipment companies making both manual and motorized inversion tables, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Big-name brands like Teeter offer a variety of tables and attachment options, but Innova, and Ironman designs are more affordable.
That’s why we created a guide to the best inversion tables on the market. This includes the bestselling Teeter Fitspine X3, Teeter Fitspine X1, Innova ITM4800, and several more.
We’ve also created a shortlist of the top inversion tables for home gyms. This is based on our tests and reviews, as well as customer feedback, review ratings, and how well the machine’s design relieves back pain and improves posture.
What Is An Inversion Table?
An inversion table is usually made of two main components: a comfort bed mounted on an adjustable boom, and the A-frame that supports it.
The comfort level provided by the back support varies depending on the cushioning. Some inversion tables have just half an inch of padding, while others offer 2.5″ of memory foam.
Removable pillows for your head, neck, and lumbar region are an option on some high-end models.
The frame construction also varies by price, but most will include a scratch-resistant protective coating to improve durability.
The thickness of the steel used for the frame is often an indicator of the weight capacity. More affordable inversion tables usually support up to 250 lbs, compared to 350 lbs+ for some of the bestsellers.
How To Begin Inversion Therapy
Every inversion table offers some form of secure ankle holder system. This is used to prevent you sliding down the table once the inversion angle goes past 90 degrees.
The adjustable boom also provides you with a range of height settings to help control the weight distribution.
If you have the correct setting, you should be able to invert by slowly raising your arms above your head. Coated safety handles are often available to assist you if needed.
Prices between inversion table brands do vary, but not as significantly as for other forms of fitness equipment. Entry level designs are available for $100, but a Teeter inversion table with all the accessories can cost over $500.
Later in this guide we’ll find the best inversion table for every budget, which includes in-depth reviews of the winners.
Top 10 Inversion Tables On The Market
Finding the best inversion table for your home isn’t easy. There’s such a broad range of design features to choose from, ranging from infrared therapy to adjustable starting positions.
That’s why we’ve also shortlisted the top 10 inversion tables for all experience levels and budgets. This is in addition to a full explanation of inversion therapy’s health benefits.
Our unbiased selection hasn’t been influenced by any single manufacturer. But you may notice a trend towards tables from a couple of the market leaders.
Health Benefits of Inversion Therapy
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. In 2008 there were 3.4 million emergency departments specifically related to back problems.
The same year also saw 13.6 million U.S. adults suffering from some form of spinal condition. 23.7% of these reported a limitation in physical functioning – a 7% increase from 10 years earlier.
Unfortunately, these numbers are still rising. LBP now affects an estimated 80% of us at some time in our lives.
So, what can you do to prevent and relieve lower back pain? Maybe you’ve considered surgery?
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. That’s despite studies showing this is often no better than a comprehensive rehab and exercise program.
Are Inversion Tables Safe?
It’s important to mention that inversion therapy isn’t for everyone. We recommend checking our list of health risks to see if it’s the best choice of therapy for you.
Also, check with a doctor or a licensed physician before including inversion therapy in your back-health program. If you get the all clear, it can provide numerous health benefits.
- Improved joint health
Even if you don’t include running in your fitness plan, day-to-day movements can place a strain on your joints.
Regular inversion therapy sessions negate this effect by reversing the force placed on your back when standing, sitting, and exercising.
- Expands the spine
Several scientific studies have looked into reducing internal disc pressure in lumbar discs, specifically around the lower back.
One such study was carried out by Nachemson, Alf, et al. in 1976. This measured internal disc pressure across a range of activities, including sitting, standing, and reaching down.
The results showed that a traction load of 60% body weight could significantly reduce the residual pressure placed on your lower back while standing.
In other words, you can improve your back health even if you don’t rotate 180 degrees on an inversion table.
- Increases blood circulation
This is one of the most popular health benefits reported by companies that produce inversion therapy tables.
The assumption is that, as you invert, the brain becomes flooded with freshly oxygenated blood.
By moving to an inverted position, venous blood flow is encouraged up from the legs and pelvis to the heart. It then gets 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 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 takeaway 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 how inversion affected 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.
In summary, although there’s evidence to prove that inversion therapy lowers pulse rate, it’s far from conclusive.
Other Health Benefits Associated With Inversion Therapy
- Nourishing the spinal discs
- Helps in recovering from high-intensity workouts
- Counteract the compression of spinal discs caused by gravity and weak stomach muscles
- Can help correct spinal alignment
- Helps with stretching muscles pre and post-workout to prevent the risk of injury
- Assists lymphatic system for longer workouts with less chance of increasing the moisture surrounding connecting tissue and between vertebrae
Best Inversion Tables Reviews
Most home inversion tables follow the same basic design principles. But there are several important differences between price ranges, brands, and individual models.
Weighing up the advantages and disadvantages goes beyond a simple price comparison. It requires in-depth research into both negative and positive reviews.
But with so many designs available, finding the best inversion table for your budget can be time-consuming.
That’s why we included a quick guide featuring our best inversion table review for each price range. Each choice is backed by unbiased reviews and extensive research
Overall best inversion table on the market – Teeter FitSpine X3
If you’re looking for a safe and reliable inversion table, then the Teeter FitSpine X3 is among the very best. These have a UL 3rd-Party Certification and are some of the only inversion tables registered with the FDA for medical use. While it’s often used by medical professionals, it makes a great addition to your home gym too.
The only downside to this device that we found was its rather hefty price tag. But given the many premium features it possesses, it’s clear to see why.
The first key feature is the inversion table’s extra-long aerospace-grade ankle lock system. We liked this as it made us feel secure and in control. The lumbar bridge proved to be very effective at relieving tension in the lower back.
But what really stood out to us was the acupressure nodes. These provide trigger point relief, which helps with sore muscles and back pain.
When comparing inversion tables, we also found this one to be the most comfortable. It has an 8-part floating suspension system, which lifts the bed off the stainless steel frame and provides a softer, more flexible surface.
Best inversion table under $150 – Innova ITX9688
Without a doubt, this is the most competitive price range for inversion tables. And this Innova inversion table is among the best options for its given price tag. It boasts a 300 lb weight capacity and can accommodate users between the heights of 4ft-10in to 6ft-6in. And luckily, each of us fell right within this range.
The Innova inversion table does not offer everything that the Teeter FitSpine X3 has; however, it is still one of the better options on the market that we’ve found.
This sturdy table comes with a variety of unique features, starting with its wide backrest pad and ergonomic foam handlebars. While these look fairly basic at first, we were surprised at how much comfort and support they provided.
We also liked the True Balance System, which made it easier for us to find our center of gravity. The system has two adjustable parts, which is not seen on most inversion tables.
Another feature that impressed us is the 6-angle pin system. This made it easy to adjust the table so that it remains in a safe and comfortable position. Many inversion tables, particularly older versions, use an old tether strap system which tends to loosen after repeated use.
Best inversion table under $200 – Innova Fitness ITM4800
Another inversion table at a competitive price range is the Innova Fitness ITM4800. Like the IFT 1000 (no longer available) from Ironman, it is one of the few inversion tables that offer Infrared Therapy.
Sunny Health and Fitness also has an inversion table in this category called the SF-807. But for us, there’s a clear winner.
The Innova Fitness ITM4800 has a heavy, sturdy frame and can support up to 300lbs. The solid frame coupled with the 6-Angle Pin System kept us securely in place while we used the product. We also liked that the backrest pad was soft and wide, as it allowed for a comfortable and easy inversion.
Like the Innova ITX9688, the ITM4800 features a double-adjustable True Balance System. This allows you to adjust the headrest and height so that you can easily find your center of gravity and have a smoother inversion experience.
Best inversion table under $300 – Backlounge Inversion Bench
The $200 to $300 price range features more premium inversion tables but with less choice than the more affordable designs.
The next entry on our list is the Backlounge Inversion Bench. While it’s not as big and sturdy as the other best inversion tables mentioned, it provides many of the same benefits. This makes it a great option for anyone with limited space. However, it’s worth mentioning that it only has a weight capacity of 250 lbs.
What we loved most about the Backlounge Inversion Bench is that you require little to no assistance to use it. It features a smart design that puts you in complete control. And best of all, you don’t need to tilt completely upside down to get all the benefits that come with inversion therapy.
Another feature that we liked was the medium-density lumbar foam rollers. These dig deep into the soft tissue surrounding your spine and hips, providing unmatched relief.
In addition to providing relief for your back and neck, the inversion bench also allows you to strengthen your core muscles. Developing your core muscles will help greatly as it may prevent back or neck pains in the long run.
Best inversion table under $500 – Teeter FitSpine X1
If you’re looking for a premium-quality inversion table and don’t want to spend a whopping $500-plus dollars as you would with the Teeter Fitspine X3, then the X1 may be what you’re looking for.
From testing, we found that this inversion table offered many of the benefits that the X3 has. This includes their EZ-reach Ankle System, which kept us safely and securely in place. It also features full-length side handles, which helped us control the rotation and return to an upright position.
Having a handle built into the base of the frame encourages deeper muscle stretching, while Teeter’s EZ Tether Strap is great for limiting the inversion range.
As with the other Teeter Hang Ups tables, the X1 is compatible with a range of accessories. This includes their Acupressure Nodes and Lumbar Bridge, which can often be purchased with the table in a package deal.
The solid steel frame supports a weight capacity of 300 lbs and a height range of 4’8″ to 6’6″. A 5-year manufacturer’s warranty is also one of the best in the industry.
Does an Inversion Table Help Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most common reasons to visit a physician in the U.S. It’s also one of the most frequent causes of absenteeism from work.
LBP is 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 can an inversion table help relieve lower back pain?
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. Participants were assigned to two training groups and a control group:
- Group 1: Inversion for 10 minutes, once per day.
- Group 2: Inversion for 10 minutes, twice per day.
- 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 Reviews — What To Look Out For
Before deciding which inversion table to buy, we wanted to share with you the 10-point checklist that we use in each of our inversion table reviews.
If you find a table we haven’t reviewed yet, this should help you assess the quality and make informed comparisons.
1. Safety features
If you’re anything like us, your inversion therapy sessions won’t involve a spotter. That’s why safety is the first thing we check when reviewing any new inversion table.
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 inversion table you buy has a safety bar, tether cord, or locking mechanism, like the Ironman iControl.
You also want to consider the length of the safety handles. Teeter favors shorter handles on their more affordable inversion tables, whereas the X1 and X3 handles are full-lengths.
Warranty coverage can be a useful indicator of the overall build quality, but this isn’t particularly reliable. There are many bestselling designs with comparatively short warranties.
2. Comfort and cushioning
Most inversion therapy sessions won’t last very long. Between 8 and 10 minutes is recommended, but it’s still important to be as comfortable as possible.
The density of the cushioning on the back support varies greatly and is dependent on the brand and price.
For entry-level tables, you could have just 0.75″ thick padding. But for top-of-the-line models, you could enjoy up to 2.5″ of memory foam.
But it’s not all about the foam.
Teeter Hang Ups inversion tables only have padding on the head support. Their flexible ComforTrak Bed is what keeps you comfortable and compensates for any change in weight distribution.
A thicker cushion is better for pure inversion therapy, whereas thinner cushioning is better for locking tables like Teeter’s. This means you have solid back support to press against during ab workouts.
We’ve seen very few complaints in the inversion table reviews relating to uncomfortable back support. However, the ankle holders are a different story. Check the model you’re interested in to see if it uses ergonomically molded ankle cushions or more generic foam rollers.
3. Size of the footprint
Teeter produces some of the most compact inversion tables on the market, but they’re premium designs that aren’t suitable for all budgets.
Due to their A-frame design, it’s not difficult to find a folding inversion table. You just might have to remove some of the parts to do so.
Some of the older Ironman is an excellent example, where each table can be folded down within seconds (except their ATIS collection). Unfortunately, they aren’t freestanding when you pull the A-frame together. The ankle holders also stick out slightly, even at the shortest height setting.
In most cases, you have to compromise on the folded footprint to get the best value for money.
4. Base stability
Fixed-frame inversion tables, like the Ironman ATIS, will always provide the best stability. But even at 90-degree inversion, you’re unlikely to encounter any issues with the tables we review on this site.
The width and length of the footprint are enough to prevent any unwanted movement, but on hard floors, it also helps to have some form of traction built into the base.
More affordable designs from Body Max won’t offer the same thickness of rubber feet as the Ironman Gravity collection but should still be more than adequate in most situations.
5. 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.
6. 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 from 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 other inversion tables, you’ll usually be looking at 1 year on the frame and 90 days on 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.
7. 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.
Inversion Table Risks
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 affect the safe operation of your inversion table. That’s why we recommend checking the bolts and safety strap 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.
1. Unsafe rise in blood pressure (hypertension)
A study published in the Journal of Orthopedic 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 by 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 elevated blood pressure. That said, 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.
2. Rise in eye pressure (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. Weinreb, 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.
3. 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 highlights 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 the 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, it 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.
Final Thoughts on the Best Inversion Tables
No matter what you’re looking for, whether it be a cheap inversion table or a Teeter inversion table with a removable lumbar pillow, the options mentioned in this list are among the very best.
From our testing, we’ve found that each of these is capable of providing a safe and comfortable inversion. Some can even do a little more.
Last update on 2022-07-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API