Inversion therapy doesn't provide lasting relief from back pain, and it's not safe for everyone. Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down, and the head-down position could be risky for anyone with high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma.
In theory, inversion therapy takes gravitational pressure off the nerve roots and disks in your spine and increases the space between vertebrae. Inversion therapy is one example of the many ways in which stretching the spine (spinal traction) has been used in an attempt to relieve back pain.
Well-designed studies evaluating spinal traction have found the technique ineffective for long-term relief. However, some people find traction temporarily helpful as part of a more comprehensive treatment program for lower back pain caused by spinal disk compression.
Your heartbeat slows and your blood pressure increases when you remain inverted for more than a couple of minutes — and the pressure within your eyeballs jumps dramatically. For these reasons, you should not try inversion therapy if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma.
April 20, 2019
Get the latest health advice from Mayo Clinic delivered
to your inbox.
Sign up for free, and stay up-to-date on research
advancements, health tips and current health topics,
like COVID-19, plus expert advice on managing your health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information and to understand which
is beneficial, we may combine your e-mail and website usage information with other
information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic Patient,
this could include Protected Health Information (PHI). If we combine this information
with your PHI, we will treat all of that information as PHI,
and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy
practices. You may opt-out of e-mail communications
at any time by clicking on the Unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for Subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date
on the latest health information.
We’re sorry! Our system isn’t working. Please try again.
Something went wrong on our side, please try again.
See more Expert Answers
- Simon J, et al. Non-operative management: An evidence-based approach. Seminars in Spine Surgery. 2016;28:8.
- Qaseem A, et al. Noninivasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain: A clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017;166:514.
- Cifu DX. Manipulation, traction, and massage. In: Braddom's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 24, 2017.
- McMonnies CM. Intraocular pressure and glaucoma: Is physical exercise beneficial or a risk? Journal of Optometry. 2015;9:139.