If you have back pain, I have a recommendation that might help you.  It’s affordable and non-invasive, you can use it at home and it takes up virtually no space.

It’s the kind of thing you find out about when you need to do something about your pain…when you’re facing the unpleasant alternatives of drugs and/or surgery…when you’re ready to look at alternatives, no matter how silly they might have seemed to you before you were living with pain.

It’s an inversion table.  Did you know that a preliminary study from Newcastle Hospital in the UK concluded that patients who were told they needed sciatic operations and practiced inversion were 70.5% less likely to require surgery than those who didn’t practice inversion?

Lots of riders I know (including myself) have back issues, injuries or pain.  An inversion table is one more arrow to have in your quiver when you take aim at the annoying or painful, restricting or limiting back issues that can keep you from enjoying your horse or riding the way you’d like.

Teeter Hang Ups are wonderful inversion tables.  They’re easy to operate, safe, and you can gradually work up to full inversion.  They’re easy to clean and easy to store, and they last (there’s been one at the farm for the last seven years and it looks as good and works as well as the day we bought it).  

Here’s what one looks like:

And here’s a little story about how we discovered it:

Six or seven years ago, my Yankee-Irish horsewhispering boyfriend developed serious back pain while taking a horse down South from our farm in Connecticut.  Luckily, he was able to see a great chiropractor in Georgia while we were there, who adjusted him and recommended we get an inversion table when we got home.

We researched them, and ended up buying a Teeter Hang Ups F5000 (a now discontinued model).  My YIHB had used gravity boots years ago, and had no qualms about hanging upside down like a bat.

The golden crowned fruit bat

It didn’t take long for his pain to lesson, and today, he’s largely pain-free despite having a couple of compressed disks.  Admittedly, he stays fit and strong, so the inversion table can’t take all the credit, but it can take some. These days, if he has discomfort in his back, he get on the table and hangs upside down and the pain goes away.

I have to admit that hanging upside down like a bat has never appealed to me.  Of course, aside from my fracture, I’ve never had back pain.  Until a few weeks ago, that is, when I developed sciatic pain.  I saw my doctor.  He gave me medicine.  He said I might need an MRI.  I looked forward to seeing my Rolfer (more on that in a later post) and I googled, to try to find out what was going on with me and what I could do about it.

There among the recommendations was:  inversion table.  So I asked my YIHB to adjust the Teeter for me, which took less than a minute, and I got on it.  I inverted slowly and adjusted to being partway upside down (full inversion may or may not come later).  I felt my spine stretch — in a good way — especially around T-12, where I’d fractured it last year. I felt taller.  And since I’m only 5’1″, that’s important to me, especially when I’m on my 16.2h horse.

Teeter inversion products are used by the NBA, the NFL and the MLB, by PGA golfers, professional cyclists, and Olympic athletes.  Burt Morrow, who won a Gold Medal at the Senior Olympics in 2000 at the age of 86, credited Teeter Hang Ups as his secret to maintaining flexibility.  

The US Army Physical Fitness School notes that soldiers who invert regularly with Teeter Hang Ups suffer fewer joint-related injuries or back muscle pain and heal more quickly from joint compression damage.

Oprah recommends inversion as one of the 10 smartest things you can do for your body.  Celebrities who invert include Cindy Crawford, Jackie Chan, David Duchovny, Martha Stewart, Lance Armstrong, Ozzy Osbourne and Eva Mendes, who believes that it helps keep her complexion beautiful.

There are some people, with certain health conditions, who shouldn’t invert. Read more about this here to see if you’re one of them.

Coromandel Lacquer Screen, Qing Dynasty, Munich Residence Museum

If you want to get fit or fitter, you can also use the Teeter to work out.  You can do crunches and squats, sit ups, push ups and chin ups, leg lifts and band work.

When you’re done, you can fold up the Teeter in seconds, stick it in a closet or against a wall or behind a Coromandel screen if you’re lucky enough to have one. Hopefully, if you do, out of sight will not mean out of mind, because this contraption really works.

Prices start at $249 and go up to thousands for the motorized versions. (Before you consider the motorized version, please keep in mind that you ride a horse, and not the kind that lives outside the supermarket.)  You can read all about your options and even more about the Teeter and inversion therapy at www.teeter-inversion.com.