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Inversion - Relieves Stress and Helps to Age Gracefully - Part I Training Database Advanced Training Tips Inversion - Relieves Stress and Helps to Age Gracefully - Part I

CLICK HERE to see Part II of this article!

First off there are two parts to this. I have had a lot of questions on the same subjects, this should answer about everything. What I typed should have alot of info and I advise everyone to read this, I hope you find it pretty damn interesting!


Inversion - Relieves Stress and Helps to Age Gracefully (Part I)
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Over half of people who invert on a regular basis do so to relieve back pain. But to discount inversion as simply a back pain remedy would be to ignore a wide range of benefits that can be easily achieved by a passive, or more active, inversion session.

Kevin Levrone

Photograph © Ron Avidan of Reproduced with permission.

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Inversion represents the Quiet Side of Fitness, helping your body to recover from the compressive effects of gravity and daily activities. Doctors, physical therapists and sports trainers recognize inversion as a safe and effective form of therapy for the spine and weight-bearing joints. In fact, the US Army is writing Inversion into its worldwide physical training manual that will be adopted for the new millennium.

Inversion Can Help to Relieve Many Forms of Back Pain
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There are many causes of back pain, including poor posture, weak back and stomach muscles, and misalignments to name a few. Many of these causes can actually be attributed to one force we must all battle: gravity.

Inversion therapy puts gravity to work for you by placing your body in line with the downward force of gravity. Using your own body weight as a natural form of traction, inversion elongates the spine by increasing the space between the vertebrae, relieving the pressure on discs, ligaments and nerve roots. Less pressure means less back pain.

Every nerve root leaves the spine through an opening between the vertebrae - the size of this opening is largely controlled by the height of the disc. Discs that are plump and contained in their ligament "wrappers" are necessary to keep the nerve roots free of pressure and your body free from pain.

Stress and tension can cause muscle spasms in the back, neck and shoulders, as well as headaches and other problems. Tense muscles produce spasms and pain by reducing the supply of oxygen and by reducing blood and lymph flow, allowing the accumulation of waste chemicals in the muscles. Inverting yourself to as little as 25 for even a few minutes can help relax tense muscles and speed the flow of lymphatic fluids which flush out the body's wastes and carry them to the blood stream. The faster this waste is cleared, and fresh supplies of oxygen are introduced, the faster stiffness and pain in the muscles can disappear. A study conducted by physiotherapist L.J. Nosse found that, "EMG (electromyographic) activity, an indicator of muscle pain, declined over 35% within ten seconds of assuming the inverted position."2

Inversion can also help to encourage good posture. When inverted, your body is in line with gravity. Your spine wants to naturally go to it proper form (a gentle "s" curve). A regular program of inversion can help you to maintain proper posture and keep your body in balance. Poor posture is not only unhealthy, it's unattractive.

Inversion Helps Provide Care and Feeding for the Discs
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Your discs have three jobs: to separate the vertebrae, provide flexibility to the spine and to act as shock absorbers. Disc separation is especially important since all communication between the brain and the body is via nerves that pass between each vertebra. Insufficient distance between the vertebrae can result in nerve root pressure and pain.

The inner core of your discs is made of jelly-like material that provides the flexibility and "cushioning" in your back. When you are sitting, standing, or exercising (weight-bearing activities), fluid is squeezed out of your discs and into adjacent soft tissue (just as you would squeeze moisture out of a sponge). As a result, your discs lose some of their moisture and height. To prove this fact, measure yourself in the morning and then again at night. You will lose 1/2" to 3/4" in height by the end of the day. This lost fluid translates into your discs loosing some of their cushioning effect.

When you are sleeping, "a non-weight bearing activity", your discs (or "intravertebral sponges") expand as they soak up fluid and nutrients and increase the length of your spine by as much as 3/4". But you don't gain the full height back, accumulating to a total of 1/2" to 2" in height throughout your lifetime.

In fact, the only time in your life when you are giving your discs a break is when you are inverting. See graph. The medical study that generated this graph measured the pressure inside the 3rd lumbar disc - it was assigned a baseline pressure while standing of 100%. The study reported that even when you are lying down, the disc pressure remained at 25%. The hundreds of ligaments and muscles that encase and mobilize the spine act like a bunch of rubber bands holding the spine in compression equal to 25% of standing body weight. Inverting to 60 degrees is necessary to reduce the disc pressure to zero.3 Inverting is the most effective posture that allows your discs to recover from the constant pressure placed on them during your daily activities.

When your discs are compressed and thinned, your vertebrae potentially place more pressure on these nerve roots. More pressure equals more pain. As you relax, your spine begins to stretch. The space between each vertebra will increase, thus decreasing the pressure on the discs between each vertebra. This encourages fluid movement back into the disc, helping to keep your discs plump and happy and decreasing the pain in your back.

Inversion Helps to Achieve Functional Fitness
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A person can only achieve functional fitness (the ability to remain flexible and active throughout a lifetime) by incorporating every element of fitness into their lifestyle: cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility. Inversion can be utilized as an simple, effective method to achieve each essential element of fitness:

Cardiovascular: The simple act of inverting the body can actually help to stimulate circulation, resulting in a mild, even relaxing, cardiovascular workout. Strength: More active inversion allows people to add strength training (crunches, sit-ups, extensions, etc) with no loads to the spine. Flexibility: Passive inversion can help to maintain flexibility of the joints and spine, encouraging good posture and properly hydrating the discs between each vertebrae. This element of fitness is rarely addressed with the equipment offered at most gyms, and is often overlooked as an important part of a complete workout.

Train Core Muscle Groups without Loading the Spine
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Core muscles - the muscles providing support for the torso (abdominals, internal and external obliques, and lower back muscles) - are responsible for the maintenance of posture, efficiency in movement and transfer of power in the body.

Weak abdominal muscles allow you to slump forward, making you more vulnerable to misalignments and injury. Well-developed core muscles improve performance in athletic activities as well as with day-to-day activities, supporting the spine in proper alignment to avoid injury. Strong abdominal muscles support the spine by increasing internal pressure (similar to using a back support when lifting heavy objects) to help relieve the load on the discs in the spinal column.

Unfortunately, most exercises designed to build core muscles must be performed with great technical accuracy or they can cause injury to the lumbar spine. Inverting on TeeterTM equipment actually helps users to focus on building core strength without loading the spine. When performed from full inversion, exercises such as crunches, sit-ups and back extensions can build strength in the core with minimal risk of hyperextension or loading the spine improperly.

Part II has more information and is even better. I hope you found this article interesting!


Mike David

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