What Should I Look For?
Inversion therapy is great to relieve back and spinal problems, but the options for performing it have become much better over the centuries. You don’t have to tie yourself to a ladder as the Greeks did, nor are gravity boot setups necessary. With an inversion table, you can put yourself into an inversion position easily and without assistance. However, there are several important features you need to know about inversion tables before you can make the best choice for you. Here are some things to look for.
The table has to be able to support your weight, especially if you’re going to be performing exercises. Since they’re meant to hold the weight of an entire person, inversion tables are made out of tubular steel. Most tables support a weight between 250 and 300 pounds, which is enough for most people. There are two tables on this site that break that barrier. The Ironman Gravity 4000 supports weight up to 350 pounds, and the Health Mark Pro Max supports 600 pounds. If you are a very heavy person, these two tables are going to be your best options.
Not all tables have height settings to fit people that are on the extremes. If you’re between 4’10” and 6’6″ then you’ll fit fine on all the tables that we feature here. Here are some options if you’re especially tall or short:
Teeter Hang-ups models (4’8″)
Body Max and Body Champ models (As low as 4’7″)
Body Max and Body Champ models (Up to 6’8″)
Health Mark Pro Max (Up to 6’9″)
There’s a variety of methods for keeping your feet locked into the table while you’re inverting. The simplest is a set of foam rollers that clasp onto the top and bottom of your ankles. More advanced models use form-fitting ankle clasps, but even higher-end models do use foam rollers. What’s important is that it’s comfortable for your body type and ankle mobility. If you have weak ankles, you may want to look at inversion tables with ankle clasps.
Even more important than what is supporting you is how you can adjust it. With many models there’s an adjustable pin that allows you to move the supports to a level that’s right for you. This can take some experimentation at first, which can be difficult to do when you’re inverted. Some models come with a lever to allow you to adjust the ankle support without having to bend all the way to your ankles. In others, there’s a ratchet system instead of a pin. When you look at a table, imagine yourself in the inversion and see if you’d feel comfortable or not with the amount of support offered and how you’d adjust it while inverted.
Having looked at height and support, next we’ll look at angle variation. In most models there is an adjustable tether strap that runs from the bottom of the table to a crossbar on the frame. By adjusting the strap, the maximum angle of the table is shifted. On other models, there’s a removable bar that will sit in the path of the table as it rotates around. Some models combine both of these features for safety. You need at least 20 degrees of inversion from horizontal to get used to it, and 60 degrees or more to gain the full benefits of an inversion table. Make sure your table accommodates these ranges. Also make sure you can reach the handle bars comfortably to swing yourself out of the position when your session is complete.
This is also something that can vary. Vinyl backrests are easy to clean, but fabric backrests make for lighter machines for easier storage. Some models use memory foam for comfort, or special coatings to combine the best features of fabric and vinyl. This really comes down to personal taste. Also, look at the amount of support as well. If you’re especially heavy or muscular, you may want more padding. Some models are designed to flex to allow for inverted exercises, or to allow face-down inversions.
Other things to look for
- Is the table collapsible or not?
- What other safety features are available?
- What warranty is offered? Look for a long warranty, especially on the frame. Teeter Hang-ups tables are the best in this. (see our comparison chart for warranty info)
- What additional features are available, such as instructional DVDs or extra pillows?
With these guidelines in hand and a glance through our reviews, you can make an informed decision about which inversion table interests you the most. Picture yourself going through all the steps to see what features you want, and then find a table that fits your weight and height to try out.