In a perfect world, “mind over matter” would be more than a paraphysical pep talk. In reality, overcoming health challenges—especially overlapping ones—is far more difficult. As it turns out, we shouldn’t be thinking “mind over matter.” The real name of the game is “heart over head.”
Inversion therapy refers to any practice that places the heart over the head. This can mean turning completely upside down, or it could be as simple as touching your toes. Placing the body upside down removes the compressive effects of gravity and daily life.
In turn, inversion therapy offers a wide range of benefits, from relieving back pain to brightening dull skin.
The Benefits Of Inversion Therapy
When it comes to aging, gravity is public enemy number one. Gravity not only affects our physical appearance through height shrinkage and wrinkles, it also puts significant wear and tear on all parts of the body. Thus, the entire body can benefit from inversion therapy, including the cardiovascular, lymphatic, endocrine, and nervous systems.
The most common target for inversion therapy is back and joint pain, but flipping upside down can also improve blood circulation. Increased blood flow to the brain means sharper mental performance, better memory, and clear thinking. Inversions help move stagnant blood by forcing it to flow in the opposite direction.
Additionally, better blood flow can manifest as brightened skin, decreased mood swings, and a countermeasure to insomnia. Going upside down can enhance immunity by fortifying the lymphatic system, and it improves flexibility and bone strength.
Other inversion therapy benefits include indigestion relief, which can, in turn, relieve GI-related anxiety and skin disorders. You can even use inversion therapy for stress relief. The body commonly exhibits stress through muscle tension, headaches, and joint pain—inversion therapy soothes these symptoms, helping the body fully relax.
(It’s important to note that not everyone should try inversion therapy. Those with heart disease, high blood pressure, or glaucoma should avoid this type of therapy due to the increased pressure on the heart, eyes, and head. It’s always important to talk to your doctor first to see if inversion therapy is a good fit for you.)
Trying Inversion Therapy At Home
As someone who has never been able to do a cartwheel or handstand in her life, going upside down didn’t seem like a feasible option for me. I assumed that this was reserved for the superbly athletic—not someone whose last somersault was decades ago.
Luckily, I was wrong. A wide range of inversion solutions offers all the benefits of this topsy-turvy therapy. Except with these tools, you don’t need to have twenty years of yoga training under your belt to use them.
There is an inversion tool right for everyone, from portable gadgets to fully installed equipment. (And the last one? Well, that’s as easy as it gets.)
Original FeetUp Headstand Bench
Despite never having done a handstand, I have great aspirations to do so. But until some secret inner gymnast comes out in me, I’ve been living out my upside-down dreams with the Original FeetUp Headstand Bench.
The easy-to-assemble chair can be used alone or with a wall for extra stability. Your shoulders rest on the plush cushion, and the back of your neck fits in the rounded center space. You can use your hands to stabilize your body by gripping the wooden legs. And voila—you’re upside down, with no pressure on your arms, back, or neck.
Even if you’re not comfortable lifting your legs, the simple act of resting your shoulders on the bench and straightening your legs will achieve the “heart over head” position.
Innolife’s Veocore Auxiliary Chair
Innolife’s Veocore Auxiliary Chair is another yoga tool used by yogis and non-yogis alike. This souped-up folding chair has an additional panel that looks a little bit like the feet of a recliner.
To put your heart over your head, sit backward in the chair with your hands gripping the chair back in front of you. Then, slowly lower your back onto the diagonal support panel. This stretches, strengthens, and releases tension in the back. When you’re ready to come back up, the chair back acts as a pull-up bar to prevent muscle strain.
Innova Inversion Table
Inversion tables like this one from Innova Health and Fitness are commonly associated with relieving back pain. However, you don’t need to schedule an appointment with your chiropractor to enjoy the benefits of this type of therapy.
Innova’s Inversion Table comes with a six-position pin system that allows you to adjust the angle of the table without dismounting. This is especially useful, considering your ankles will be securely strapped into Innova’s reversible ankle holding system.
Additionally, this table comes with three adjustable features: headrest, height, and footrest. So, the table can be tailored to your exact body type and size for optimal therapeutic results.
YOGABODY Trapeze Inversion Swing
Inversion therapy doesn’t have to be a boring inevitability of getting older. Turn inversion therapy into playtime with YOGABODY’s Trapeze Inversion Swing. The swing comes with everything needed to install it from a chin-up bar, beam, or solid tree branch. You can also purchase separate ceiling hooks and stands for a standalone swing.
While it’s slightly more complicated to use, this inversion solution provides optimal upside-down benefits. The sturdy fabric can hold up to 600 lbs, and the various loops and handles allow you to experiment with which inverted position works best for you.
A few minutes in this swing every day will increase strength, balance, and flexibility—and that’s in addition to the other physical health benefits of inversions.
Heavy Duty Swiss Ball
“Heart over head” might sound a bit extreme, but it’s actually much simpler. Your entire body doesn’t need to be over your head—just your chest. The best (and most fun) way to achieve this position? A bouncy ball.
Trideer’s heavy-duty exercise ball is made of a honeycomb structure for anti-burst protection and extra-slow deflation. If it does start to deflate, Trideer also includes an easy-to-use quick pump so you can get back to bouncing ASAP.
Using your exercise ball for inversion therapy couldn’t be simpler. Start seated, then slowly “walk” your feet forward, causing the ball to roll up from your tailbone to your midback. Then, gently rest your weight across the top of the ball. The ball’s curved shape will keep your chest higher than your head—all you have to do is relax.
Trying to solve (or suffer through) health problems using “mind over matter” is a recipe for disappointment and frustration. “Heart over head,” on the other hand, is an easy, comprehensive solution to a wide range of health issues. You’ll be surprised how good you feel after trying this new perspective on for size.