It’s been said that walking upright is a miracle of engineering, and most of us perform that feat every day. The downside to all of this mobility, however, is additional stress on our necks, backs, and spines. When the natural cushioning between the vertebrae becomes compressed, we pay the price in back pain, pinched nerves, and restricted mobility. Some sufferers seek relief through chiropractic care, professional spinal decompression, and therapeutic massage. But these treatments are pricey, and the results are often temporary.
Inversion tables have become increasingly popular pieces of home exercise and rehabilitation equipment. People who suffer from chronic back pain, flexibility problems, and spinal issues often find relief through in-home inversion therapy. The best inversion tables we reviewed place a high priority on user safety, range of motion, and comfort.
Inversion therapy provides an alternate solution to these physical woes. During an inversion therapy session, the practitioner secures himself to a pivoting table and assumes an inverted position. The position encourages spinal decompression and increased blood flow to the brain.
Inversion sessions rarely exceed 30 minutes for safety reasons, but satisfied users claim the health benefits far exceed any temporary discomfort. Some people even perform stretching and calisthenic exercises while inverted.
At BestReviews, we use a combination of consumer feedback, expert opinions, and product research to create shortlists of the best products on the market. If you’re interested in buying an inversion table, please see the five tables in our matrix, above. Each product meets our rigorous requirements for both performance and safety.
And if you’re interested in learning more about inversion therapy and its benefits, please continue reading our shopping guide, below.
Inversion therapy is considered to be an alternative health treatment along the same lines as chiropractic care and body vibration therapy. Any claims of health benefits from inversion therapy have not been verified through scientific studies. Some benefits, especially pain relief, may be temporary.
Many inversion table users experience muscular relaxation and a gentle stretching of the spine at minimal inversion settings. The experience is akin to that of a chiropractic adjustment. Flexibility is restored, and the pain from pinched nerves or back spasms is noticeably reduced.
But the claimed benefits of inversion therapy stretch beyond simple back massage and spinal “popping.” Some people say that a deeper inversion of 60 degrees encourages the vertebrae to decompress, allowing fluids to flow back into the soft discs between them. Herniated or bulging discs may reduce in size after several inversion sessions.
Some therapists recommend an inversion table for older children suffering from scoliosis. The act of stretching the spine under controlled conditions may help scoliosis patients halt, or even reverse, the spinal curvature that leads to mobility issues later in life.
Headache sufferers may find meaningful relief through inversion therapy. The relaxation and stretching of head, neck, and back muscles may reduce the triggers for some tension-based headaches. Increased blood flow to the head can also improve circulation and calm the nerves that trigger migraines. Even sinus and eustachian tube drainage are said to be improved during inversion sessions.
Some people with knee pain have also claimed to experience relief both during and after inversion therapy. No longitudinal studies exist to prove this claim, and we can’t say that this would work for everybody. Still, we believe this it’s worth noting.
We spoke with a consumer who incurred bruised vertebrae and multiple bulged discs in his lower lumbar region after a devastating back injury. His surgeon recommended inversion therapy treatment, but that’s not all. Inversion therapy was also recommended to him by a sports medicine physician, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, and even his boss at work.
While this consumer’s situation may not match your own, we believe the number of professionals who recommended he try inversion therapy speaks volumes for this type of non-surgical, non-medicated treatment.
We also spoke with people in the active sports community who use inversion therapy in their workout recovery process. For some, the wear and tear sustained during running and other exercise appears to “heal,” at least to some extent, during inversion therapy. If you live an active life and want to experiment with new recovery treatments, this is useful information to keep in mind.
High-end inversion tables often include additional features and optional equipment to enhance the user’s experience. Here are some helpful features and optional add-ons you may want to consider before making a purchase.
Comfort is an important consideration, especially for those who intend to invert for extended periods of time. Padding is especially important around the ankle clamps and head and neck support areas.
Some tables provide padding at critical pressure points but nowhere else. When in doubt about a particular table’s level of comfort, be sure to consult customer reviews and other feedback. If possible, test the table yourself before making a purchase.
Often sold as an add-on, acupressure nodules are hard plastic knobs that you can place strategically in your table. During inversion, these knobs stimulate various acupressure points in the back, neck, and legs. Some people find this form of acupressure uncomfortable, but others may want to try acupressure nodules to address specific pain points.
Office workers and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle may experience tension in the lower back. The spinal stretches and muscular relaxation encouraged by inversion therapy are helpful, but they don’t always address the lower back and hip pain caused by sitting in a chair for hours on end.
Some inversion table manufacturers offer an add-on known as a lumbar bridge. The lumbar bridge pushes against the lower back during the inversion session, creating an even deeper stretch in that area.
Before you buy an inversion table for home use, ask yourself three important questions:
Most inversion tables are large and not very easy to break down. You’ll need a fair amount of space to use and store your inversion table. If you don’t have the right kind of space, you may end up feeling frustrated. We encourage all potential buyers to measure their space first, bearing in mind that an inversion table requires even more space when flipped into inversion.
The stability of the floor on which you place your table is incredibly important. You want a surface that’s level, not slanted. An unstable floor could lead to a fall during inversion. That’s a risk you want to mitigate.
Inversion tables are large and bulky. Moving them around is no easy feat. Before investing in a table, make sure you have the strength and stamina to handle its dimensions and weight. In the best of scenarios, you won’t have to move the table after installation because it will have its own permanent location in your home.
The Teeter EP 960 is constructed from heavy-gauge steel and weighs a substantial 73 pounds when assembled. We find the instructional DVD to be very helpful, but it's not specifically targeted at any Teeter inversion table model in particular. Total assembly time, on average, is approximately 30 to 45 minutes, and some basic hand tools may be required. The Teeter EP 960 is designed to fold up for easier storage, but at 73 pounds, it's not exactly portable. Because the manufacturer suggests at least seven feet of vertical clearance for safe operation, room placement is vital.
The EP 960's advertised weight limit is 300 pounds, but many customers feel it could accommodate at least 350 to 400 pounds without risk of mechanical failure. The inversion table must be adjusted for height before use because the pivot point accounts for different centers of gravity. These height adjustments run from 4-foot-9 to upwards of 6-foot-9. We urge users to add an additional inch or two to their standing height in order to assure a proper balance during use. The inversion table relies on arm movements to control its motion during exercises.
Like many other foldable mid-range inversion tables, the Ironman IFT 1000’s tubular steel frame is strong yet lightweight. It’s fairly easy to transport, but its maximum weight rating is 300 pounds. Some consumers worry about the weight limit as well as the challenging instruction manual and difficult assembly process. (This table has a lot of moving parts as well as an infrared heating system.) Between sessions for different users, this table may need to be partially disassembled.
The minimum and maximum height capacities are not clearly defined for the Ironman IFT 1000, but consumer feedback suggests that a range of 4'10” to 6' 6” would be reasonable. For most users, an adjustment to the ankle-locking assembly is all that's needed for a comfortable fit. The total weight of this model is around 60 pounds, which is heavier than other foldable tables in the Ironman’s price range.
The Ironman Gravity 4000 is definitely among the heavier inversion table contenders on our list. It's even heavier than one of its strongest competitors, the Teeter Hang Ups EP 960. The Ironman's heavy-duty tubular steel construction earns our praise for its sturdiness and reliability, but its weight does make it more difficult to maneuver. The unit can be folded for storage, but you'll need some serious muscle to move it around a carpeted surface. The table itself is covered with two-and-a-half inches of memory foam and is noticeably more comfortable than its un-padded/lightly padded competitors.
The Ironman Gravity 4000 also comes equipped with a detachable lumbar support which is especially helpful for users with sciatica or chronic lower back pain. The inversion angles are controlled by an adjustable tether, but there is no secondary safety device. The ankle locks are ratchet-based and ergonomically molded for maximum security and comfort. Users can reach the extra-long release grips without having to perform deep bends at the waist.
The stated weight capacity is 350 pounds, and based on numerous reports from users, we suspect it could hold even more weight. The height adjustments run from 4-foot-9 to approximately 6-foot-5, and there are handles which allow users to pull themselves back to vertical after deep inversions. Assembly is not especially difficult, but we strongly recommend using a two-person crew to make the job easier. Because the unit is exceptionally heavy, room placement and clearance are important considerations as well.
The Invertio Premium, with its high-strength tubular frame, weighs an estimated 45 pounds. Potential owners may have concerns about the long-term durability and tensile strength of this frame because it’s hollow rather than solid. Designed for portability, it’s sturdy enough for most people, but those who are close to the upper weight limit of 300 pounds may want to invest in a more solid model.
The Invertio Premium can accommodate users from 4'10” to 6'6” tall, and it offers three different adjustment positions on the pivot point to control inversion speed. The entire table is engineered to fold flat, and every essential element, from the ankle locks to the headrest, is fully padded. Special feet (made of composite) help protect the floor from scuffs and scratches.
The Exerpeutic Inversion Table uses strong tubular steel, but it still manages to weigh 20 pounds less than other contenders. Combined with the ability to fold nearly flat for storage, we give high marks for ease of use to this contender. There have been some concerns among users about the complex assembly process, but the company does label each part with its proper assembly step. The tools included in the box are also exceptionally sturdy -- not the typical metal "universal tool" often included with starter inversion tables. The tether strap used to prevent over-inversion seems to have more "give" than we might like, but alternative tie-down strapping can be found in automotive sections. Everything else, from the padded table to the ankle locks, feels very secure, according to satisfied customers.
The stated weight capacity of the Exerpeutic is 300 pounds, but our research suggests that it could hold even more than that with a different tether strap in place. This model will accommodate users from 4-foot-10 to 6-foot-6 without trouble. A common practice with inversion tables is to set the machine for your natural height and then subtract or add an inch or two to find the ideal balance. A properly set inversion table should allow the user to raise and lower his or her body just by changing arm positions. Owners tell us that the Exerpeutic performs better when the height adjustment is one to two inches lower than the user's actual height.
The Teeter EP 960 inversion table uses tethering straps to control range of motion. Users can set the angle of inversion to 20 degrees, 40 degrees, or 60 degrees by attaching the appropriate strap between the frame and the bottom of the table. A full 90-degree inversion is achieved when all straps are removed. Beginning inversion table users are urged to start out at a 20 or 40-degree rotation and work their way slowly toward 60 or full 90-degree inversions. Most health benefits of inversion therapy are experienced at approximately a 45-degree rotation; we urge first-time inversion table users to be conservative until they feel comfortable. The EP 960 does not offer much padding, but it does feature a flexible back board that bends with the user.
The ankle supports use an advanced triple-locking mechanism that can be adjusted manually for maximum security and comfort. Other inversion table models rely on a spring-loaded clamping system to secure users' feet to the bottom of the table. With the Teeter Hang Ups EP, an extension of the release mechanism allows users to unlock their ankles without having to perform a strenuous bending motion. Some people report an uncomfortable weight shift on their ankles during deep or full inversions, but this is a known issue among all inversion table models. Exercisers are strongly urged to adjust their workout times if the stress on their ankles becomes too painful. For those with concerns about becoming accidentally ensnared, the Teeter EP 960 also has special hand grips which allow users to push themselves back to a supported position if they lose momentum or invert too deeply.
The Ironman IFT 1000 provides a 90-degree inversion option, but because of its additional infrared heating element, many people would probably want to choose a lower angle in order to maintain contact with the heated backrest. The product's description page does not make it clear how the inversion angles are controlled by the user. We believe there are several popular inversion angles that users can choose from, and a locking mechanism prevents the table from inverting too far. An ergonomically designed ankle brace supports the user's feet during inversion, and many customers praise its overall comfort.
The infrared therapeutic heating system built into this plastic table can be controlled remotely and never exceeds 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This form of heat therapy is considered to be safer and more effective that traditional methods such as analgesic creams, heating pads, and hot towels.
The Ironman Gravity 4000 provides a full range of inversion angles, all of which are controlled by an adjustable tether strap and a safety bar attached to the frame. Full inversion seems to be a common measuring stick with many would-be inversion table customers, but for safety's sake, we believe that security and the ability to return to an upright position should be greater concerns. The Gravity 4000 is perfectly capable of going a full 90 degrees, but that's an advanced setting for most beginners. Owners particularly enjoy the relative comfort of the unit's ankle locks and the ruggedness of the frame.
The base of this inversion table is not going anywhere while occupied, and the grip handles make it possible for an unsupervised user to pull out of any inversion situation. The Gravity 4000 is the kind of high-end inversion table that chiropractic patients or those with chronic back issues ought to seriously consider. It's all about trust when it comes to strapping into an inversion table for the first time, and the Ironman Gravity 4000's safety systems have earned that trust.
While other inversion tables claim to offer a 90-degree inversion, the truth is that many of them stop short of that angle. The Invertio Premium, however, allow users to go a full 90 degrees and beyond. In fact, the unit's maximum angle is an impressive 240 degrees. An adjustable strap allows users to select their own level of inversion, which is great for beginners and those with limited mobility.
Another useful safety feature is the three-position pivot system. Some inversion tables provide little control over how fast they go from vertical to inverted. If the table swivels too quickly, it can cause injury to the unprepared user. The Invertio Premium's pivot joint offers three different inversion speeds to address this problem. Experienced inverters and athletes can take a fast trip from vertical to fully inverted if they so choose, but beginners can ease into inversion with control and balance.
The Exerpeutic Inversion Table uses an adjustable tether strap to provide many different angles of inversion. First-time users frequently start at a modest 20 to 35 degrees in order to become accustomed to the unit's balancing system. They progress to a back-stretching 50 or 60 degrees before going fully inverted. The Exerpeutic almost reaches a full 90 degrees of inversion, but it is designed more for therapy than for core exercise programs performed from fixed inversion angles.
The ankle locks are secure and padded, but as with many other inversion tables, they are not necessarily very comfortable. Some users advise making general adjustments before mounting the table and then fine-tuning the process after the ankles are firmly in the clamps. A pull pin holds the ankle locks in place, but the user's feet may still slip around while in deep inversion. Some people use towels or other soft materials to make the ankle locks more comfortable. We recommend using this inversion table for short periods of time to avoid injuries to the ankle joints and upper feet.
The basic Teeter EP 960 package includes the inversion table, a generic owner's manual, and an instructional DVD. This should be enough for most people to get started on an exercise regimen. Advanced exercisers will appreciate the option to lock the unit at a full 90-degree angle. (Some people like to perform core conditioning exercises such as crunches and sit-ups while fully inverted, and the EP 960 locking mechanism will support these activities.)
The company does offer some helpful add-ons that can be purchased in addition to the unit. We're especially impressed by the acupressure nodes that can be attached at various points on the back board. There is also a lower lumbar plate that offers additional support and comfort at mid-range inversion angles. However, potential buyers should note that these additions come at an extra cost.
Perhaps the Ironman IFT 1000's best additional feature is the FIR (Far Infrared Ray) heat therapy provided by carbon fibers embedded in the backrest. Not only do owners enjoy the benefits of traditional inversion therapy, they also experience muscle relaxation thanks to these heating elements. Using the Ironman’s infrared heating system during therapy is optional. All the practitioner must do is activate the unit manually or via remote control.
The Ironman Gravity 4000 includes a few features that we wish were standard on other inversion tables. Teeter Hangups, for example, provides great support with its flexible table but doesn't offer much in the way of padding. The Ironman Gravity 4000 uses a thick layer of memory foam over the entire surface -- not just in strategic areas like the headrest. This additional cushioning makes a difference if the exerciser plans on a longer inversion routine or has difficulty getting comfortable on a hard plastic surface. The trade-off with memory foam is additional total weight, but many satisfied customers who switched from un-cushioned inversion tables say the difference in comfort is significant.
The other feature we highly appreciate is the lower lumbar support attachment. It could be easily removed, but customers tell us it adds a new level of support for people with lower back issues. Certain inversion angles can put a lot of strain on the lower back; the lumbar support attachment helps the body maintain healthy contact with the table as weight shifts. Other inversion tables offer lumbar support attachments as separate purchases.
Owners appreciate the Invertio Premium's ability to fold almost completely flat. This differs from some high-end models that still consume lots of real estate when packed away. A series of aprons help hide many of the exposed pivot points and locking mechanisms.
The padded ankle locks are designed to provide maximum support and a customizable grip. The 40-inch padded handle ensures that users won't get trapped in an inverted position without proper leverage. Additional padding cushions the lower back region, handrails, and ankle locks. The entire table is covered with sleek black upholstery, and the frame exudes a modern silvery finish.
As a starter or entry-level inversion table, the Exerpeutic does not arrive with many extra features. However, we do appreciate the addition of thick foam on the backboard and on the ankle locks. (Bargain-priced inversion tables often use a hard plastic material for the backboard and minimal padding on the ankle locks.) The unit includes hand grips that help users regain momentum or return to a vertical position. Some people purchase an arched back-stretching platform and a personal lumbar support belt along with the Exerpeutic. We also suggest using additional padding, like a small pillow or foam exercise mat, to cover the un-padded areas of the Exerpeutic inversion table.
Denise has a background in healthcare and physical therapy. She also has the unique experience of raising three boys. Through the years, she has coached her sons and many of their friends through their share of childhood health problems and accidents. When not helping others recover from their injuries, you may find Denise working in her garden or reading.
At $435, Teeter Hang Ups EP 960 is among the more expensive of our top five inversion table contenders. However, the initial investment is offset by the unit's nearly hospital-grade construction and performance. We find that many inversion table customers place a higher premium on durability and personal safety than initial cost. The EP 960 definitely delivers on those elements, and we believe the high number of five-star ratings from customers bears this out. Very few owners expressed concerns about spending too much money on this inversion table.
The Ironman IFT 1000's $184 price would be enticing for its inversion properties alone. When you consider the additional health benefits of infrared heat therapy, however, the model's value increases exponentially. Owners enjoy the space-saving advantage of a folding inversion table as well as the muscle-relaxing power of therapeutic heat. Buying the Ironman IFT 1000 is like buying two health and wellness devices for the price of one.
The Ironman Gravity 4000 is often compared favorably with the Teeter Hangups EP 960, but at a price of $199, it costs far less. All five of our top contenders offer great value for the money, but the Ironman Gravity 4000 includes some elements in the original package that others only offer separately -- if at all. We highly recommend the use of additional lumbar support, especially during the earliest sessions of inversion therapy, and unlike some other models, the Gravity 4000 from Ironman package includes a detachable lumbar support device! We also believe the additional padding is worth the investment in a higher-end model like the Ironman Gravity 4000.
At a cost of $109, the Invertio Premium is an affordable alternative to the pricier models on our shortlist. Other inversion tables in this price range don’t always provide much in the way of additional padding or portability. However, all of the essential elements of this inversion table are fully cushioned, and it folds nearly flat for easy storage between sessions.
Some consumers may have concerns about the use of hollow tubular steel instead of solid steel, but the tensile strength of the Invertio Premium's frame is comparable to others made of aircraft-grade aluminum. This may not be the first choice for a long-term health or exercise regimen, but it provides the same level of inversion as other tables that cost three times as much.
The Exerpeutic Inversion Table packs a significant punch for its incredibly low retail price of $88. It shares many design features with much more expensive models, especially when it comes to capacity and construction. It's a good choice for those who seek the benefits of inversion therapy but can't afford to invest in a high-end model like the Teeter EP 960 or Body Power IT9910. (Those inversion tables also provide great performance and durability, but many first-time users will be just as satisfied with a starter version like the Exerpeutic.) Many inversion table specialists urge beginners to limit their initial exercise sessions to 10 minutes a day, so purchasing a less expensive table first and upgrading later does make economic sense.
Your safety is a top concern when selecting an inversion table. After all, this is a machine that’s going to support your entire body weight in an inverted position.
As your table’s design and construction play a vital role in your success, we urge you to keep the following tips in mind:
Some inversion tables require the user to place his/her feet between two padded bars and secure them with a quick-release lock. Others provide “boots” that clamp around the ankles during inversion. Both methods pass the critical security test, but user comfort can be an issue. We urge consumers to read consumer feedback and perform extensive research before deciding on the best attachment method.
Although all five of our top inversion table contenders deliver on their promises, we find that the Teeter EP 960 is the one against which all other inversion tables should be measured. It truly is the Best of the Best.
A successful telemarketing campaign may have put Teeter Hang Ups on the consumer radar, but the Teeter EP 960 is not a veritable "As Seen On TV" product. It is a serious piece of therapeutic sports equipment that has earned top ratings from many customers. As one satisfied owner put it, the unit is definitely "hospital grade." Most inversion tables are not known for their flexibility, but the EP 960's backboard provides a natural flex for additional comfort. And while it may not be fully padded like some other inversion tables, the EP 960's design meshes well with the contours of the user.
We especially like the security of the ankle locks, along with the extended release mechanism that exercisers at any fitness level can reach. The strong tether strap prevents occupants from becoming inverted too quickly, and the hand grips ensure a user's ability to return to an upright position. At a cost of $435, the Teeter Hang Ups EP 960 may be among the more expensive inversion tables on the consumer market. However, it is packed with extra features like acupressure nodes and a lumbar support plate that are not often found in other models from other companies. Overall, this is by far the best table on the market, and if you're in a position to put quality and safety before price, this is the one to get.
The Ironman Gravity 4000 inversion therapy table costs a little more than the most basic models, but it's still an ideal starter machine for those who are new to body inversion. At a price of $199, it's not just an affordable and effective alternative to high-end inversion tables, it offers therapeutic advantages that many do not.
The Ironman's inherent construction elements are typically found on units that cost three times as much. The weight capacity and height adjustments of this model guarantee that most users will be comfortable the minute they step onto the platform and lock in their ankles. The maximum weight recommendation is 350 pounds — as high as you'll find anywhere — and whether you're shorter or taller than average, the Ironman is likely to fit your dimensions very well.
While it's capable of full inversion, this table can also be used for therapeutic use. The table's overall padding is another major plus, especially when compared to the hard, plastic surfaces found on other cheap inversion tables.
If you're looking for a satisfactory inversion table at an affordable price, we strongly suggest that you consider the Ironman Gravity 4000. It’s the Best Bang for Your Buck.
Q: How long can I safely remain inverted?
A: There is no established time limit, but your body should tell you when it’s time to end an inversion session. Beginners should only remain inverted for one to two minutes during the first few weeks of therapy, increasing the duration slowly as time moves on.
Q: What is the protocol for using my inversion table safely?
A: We recommend that you consult your physician before beginning an inversion table regimen, especially if you have high blood pressure or other health issues.
Q: Do I need to become completely inverted for maximum benefits?
A: No. Most people start to feel a gentle spine stretch and muscle relaxation at 20 or 30 degrees past horizontal. Many practitioners never push past 60 degrees.
Inversion therapy experts say that 60 degrees of inversion should provide maximum benefits for average users. A 90-degree inversion could be beneficial for an elite athlete in training or an experienced home user who wants to perform calisthenic exercise.
Q: Is inversion therapy safe for everyone?
A: Consulting with a physician is always a good idea before starting a new exercise regimen. While most people in reasonable health should feel an improvement in flexibility and a reduction in neck, spine, or leg pain with short inversion sessions at 20 to 30 degrees past horizontal, it’s not an ideal practice for everyone. Checking in with a professional who knows your personal health history is a wise precautionary measure.