Teeter Hangups – Do they really help with back pain?

Teeter Hang Ups X1 inversion table

What is Inversion Therapy?

Inversion therapy is “a form of extreme traction aided by gravity,” according to the study into the treatment by Newcastle University in 1995, which showed that using an inversion table decreased the need for surgery from 78% in the test group to just 23% in the group which used the Hang Up. Worldwide, the therapy is used by athletes, soldiers and even by the workforce at Volvo in Sweden. Volvo told their employees they must choose between doing thirty minutes a day of inversion therapy, on company time, or pay for a large part of their own health insurance. In the first year of the new safety-conscious workplace, hours lost to the company through back problems in their workers fell by 55%.

How long has inversion therapy been around?

When asked how long inversion therapy had been around, engineer and inventor Roger Teeter explained “inversion for relief of back pain is well documented back to 400 B.C. by Hippocrates… Every successful society has back pain because they sit too much, have weak muscles and lots of stress.” With this in mind, Roger Teeter, who suffered from excruciating back pain himself, developed The Teeter Hang Ups X1 inversion table. It is a product for people with chronic back problems, like sciatica, and, although it has existed for a long time, unless you need it you won't know about it. It uses “inversion therapy” (hanging inverted while strapped into the apparatus) to relieve pressure on the lumbar vertebrae.

How do I use the inversion table?

To use the Teeter Hang-Ups X1 inversion table you don't have to hang completely upside-down, as zero pressure is reached by inverting the body to an angle of just 60 ° – zero pressure is where the weight is taken off your joints and the ligaments and muscles that hold them together. The manufacturers advise using an “acclimation program” at first to get used to the new sensation of being inverted. The advice is to invert to 30 – 45 degrees, once or twice a day, for between 1 and 3 minutes. Alternate this position with being horizontal. (0 °) This is known as “Intermittent Inversion”

What's in the box when I purchase the inversion table?

The X1 is constructed from heavy-duty tubular steel, padded in all the friction hotspots, and weighs in at around 67lbs (just a touch over 30kg.) This is not a piece of kit to move around when you are experiencing back trouble, but with a friend's help you should manage to set the apparatus up in around 20 – 30 minutes, or a little longer if you have any trouble with the instructions and need to look at the DVD included with your purchase. If it resembles anything you might be familiar with, it may be a rather large child-seat like you would find in a restaurant. The difference is that the body of the apparatus is flat like a bed, rather than seat-shaped. It has webbing and padding to make lying on it comfortable. When you are on board, your ankles are strapped into the padded foot bars, and the table can be rotated through as many degrees as you are comfortable with, up to 180° (totally inverted.)

Are there any downsides to owning a Teeter Hang Ups Inversion Table?

One thing to bear in mind when buying this is the footprint it needs in your home – around 60″ x 28.75″ x 58.5″. It will certainly take up a lot of floor space in your home, but does fold down quite quickly to move around the house.

Also, some people find that there is insufficient padding to prevent rubbing when you are inverted, but Teeter have their own advice for this:

– Make sure you wear socks with lace-up shoes – the material will provide added cushion and support for the ankles.

– Fit the ankle clamps snug enough so you're secure, but don't clamp them super tight- this will restrict blood flow and cause discomfort.

– Rotate the rear ankle clamps slightly downward before you secure your ankles. As you invert, they will rotate to cup the back of your heels.

– Adjust the foot platform so that there is minimal space between the top of your foot and the platform. The less your body ‘shifts' when you invert, the better.

– Try oscillation and intermittent inversion first (rocking back and forth or short inversion sessions down then up). You ankles will get a brief rest at each rotation and you'll experience the added benefit of the “pumping action” for your joints!

So it seems that the company does in fact listen to its customers, and isn't afraid to deal with criticism. They are confident that there is sufficient padding if the device is used sensibly, following their advice.

Does it work?

Most people who use it think so, many saying they have had their first night's proper sleep for many years, and many others able to return to work after using the Teeter Hang Up. One buyer of a Teeter Hang Up in the UK commented: “No more being woken up every two or three hours with pain and spending precious sleep time searching for a comfortable position. I can't go as far to say that my back is cured, but the relief is instant and lasts for hours. More than enough to get me through the night and through a day's work too. I've not had to take a pain killer since either.

Where can I buy the Teeter Hang Ups Inversion Table?

Teeter Hang Ups even offer a 30-day home trial for just £14.95. After this time you can return the product if you do not find it helps with relief of back pain, improved joint health, improved tone in your abs and increased flexibility. If you are happy with the product, you can go ahead and make a full purchase. Other products from the Teeter range of inversion tables are available through online shops, but the X1 can only be bought from the manufacturer.

How much will I pay?

If you are paying in one single payment, the price is $299.85, but if you have taken advantage of the 30-day home trial, the balance will be paid in three payments of $99.95 each, making the total cost $314.80.

The verdict

The Teeter Hang-Ups Inversion Table is a radical idea – not many people are accustomed to inversion as a treatment or an exercise regime, but if you can get past the initial shock to the system of hanging upside down (or at least partially upside-down) this is a good piece of kit. It has a strong research base and over 30 years of proven success. For the money, this is a very useful addition to your exercise regime, as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter, and accept a rather large piece of fitness equipment in your home. Give your back and joints a treat – take the pressure off by hanging around!

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