Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fighting gravity: benefits of Inversion

Day after day, our bodies are pulled downwards towards our feet as we stand, and sit. This has an effect our our spine, our joints, our circulation, our organs, etc. etc.

The amount of positives effects of inverting for a few minutes are many:

a) Blood is constantly circulating through us thanks to the pumping of our heart. However, the Lymph fluid ( which is the liquid that surrounds the tissue of our body) relies on the contraction of our muscles, and deep diaphragmic breathing to move. The lymph fluid of the legs tends to stay pooled down there due to gravity. The positive effect of going upside down on the lymph fluid is that it drains towards the lymph nodes that are more concentrated near the chest, and armpits. This helps clean, and clear the muscles of waste products which helps clear any soreness, or stiffness of the muscles. "A study conducted by physiotherapist L.J. Nosse found that, "EMG (electromyographic) activity, an indicator of muscle pain, declined over 35% within ten seconds of assuming the inverted position."

b) When you take on an upside down position, the core muscles of your torso have to adjust, and strengthen to handle the new work-load. This helps create better posture by building stronger rib, stomach, and back muscles. Oh yes.. I have felt this effect on my own body.

c) The gentle relaxed reverse loading of the ligaments, and connective tissues allow them to stretch, and strengthen. In fact, inverting brings on a sensation of relaxation to those muscle that normally take on the pressures of gravity, and asks other muscles to take over. There is a definate feeling of calmness, and relaxing that happens in the upside down placement.

d) Inverting helps your circulation. It is interesting to notice that problems such as varicose veins, or swelling feet, which are based on gravity, can be eased by inversion. The heart also adjusts to it's workload. Sensors tell the heart that there is plenty of blood available for the brain, so the heart lowers it's output.

e) Going upside down helps your lungs: "When standing or sitting upright, gravity pulls our fluids earthward, and blood "perfuses" or saturates the lower lungs more thoroughly. The lower lung tissue is thus more compressed than the upper lungs. As a result, the air we inhale moves naturally into the open alveoli of the upper lungs. Unless we take a good, deep breath, we do not raise the ratio of air to blood in the lower lungs. When we invert, blood perfuses the well-ventilated upper lobes of the lungs, thus ensuring more efficient oxygen-to-blood exchange and healthier lung tissue. "

f) Perimenopausal and Menopausal women can benefit from the extra stimulation that the various glands that regulate metabolism ( pituitary, penial, thyroid, and parathyroid ) get from inversion.

Inversion isn't for everyone. People with back problems, high blood pressure, and glaucoma should consult a doctor before attempting inversions.

Also, it is important to take good care of your neck, and spine as you invert. Listen to your body, and if it is telling you that what you are attempting is painful.. then stop, review where you are placing the pressure of the weight of your body, and your posture.

There is also no need to invert for extra long extended moments of time ( such as over 20 minutes..etc.).
Shorter periods of time can have just as many benefits. In fact, most of the yoga sites that I visited recommended between 3 and 5 minutes. They suggested that beginners to inversion just go up for a few breaths, and then return back down.

People are purchasing Inversion tables to help them achieve the upside down position:

There are also Inversion stand to help with headstands:

These are the two websites that I visited to find the benefits of inversion:


[Mat] said...

Hey, I'm off topic here.

In the pictures, I'm on page 14 straight in the middle. You see Sensei Higashi on the chair. Way back in the back row, just a tiny bit to the left of Sensei, you see a head with no hair and glasses. That's me!

Or if you prefer, follow the text over the picture

"Adults’ class in MontrĂ©al on Saturday afternoon." Straight under the "N" of afternoon.

I'm 5'11. They're giants! LOL

[Mat] said...

Let's all do it a bit each day. :)

I saw kevin costner do a headstand in his recent movie... Rumour has it.

Anyways, nice informative post. I'll keep at it.

Oniyagi said...

Okay... if you guys are doing it, I'm going to have to try as well.

supergroup7 said...

Ha ha ha... it seems that my diabolical plan is working! Soon.. All karate ka will be inverting, and I will have the advantage in the sparring when they come back up all dizzy, and unable to stand straight.. MWAH ha ha ha

[Mat] said...


lizzie said...

I'm glad that doing head stands aren't a requirment for my dojo. I don't like being upside down because all of my blood rushes to my head and it's unconfortable.

supergroup7 said...

From what I've read of your dojo, Lizzie, you have quite a challenging belt test as is!

Going upside down is strange at first. It is definately uncomfortable because we spend 100% of our time standing or sitting upright... but I have found that going upside down does have it's little "fun" moments. Like this one:

I was walking with my little 7 year old son downtown. We came across a really "cool" lobby where there were mirrors, and lights up on the ceiling. What did my son do on impulse? He just up and did a perfect hand stand right there with no support, and held it so that he could see himself in the mirror. It didn't work.. he couldn't place his head in a way to hold the handstand and see himself. BUT Mommy was amazed! I didn't know that he could do that! I erupted with "Wow! When did you learn to do that????"

My girls said "Mom.. he's been practicing on the grass in front.. he can do a one-handed handstand too!"

Wouldn't you know it? My boy goes and shows me a perfect one handed handstand. *Big grin of parental pride*

So THAT's why my little boy has been offering to help me when I struggle with my headstand! He already knows how to do it better than me!!! Wow!

frotoe said...

I think i need to try inverting. I'm thinking that waiting a couple hours after I eat would be a good idea.

supergroup7 said...

Welcome to my blog, Frotoe.

I've found that I can invert comfortably about a half hour after eating. I didn't have to wait very long between meals.

As a beginner at inverting, You may want to limit the amount of times you go upside down, and to watch how much weight you put on your neck/head. It's really good to have a caring person there to catch your body if you lose balance and start to fall.. just like when a baby is learning how to walk, your body doesn't know which muscles to use at first.

I would suggest taking the advice of John Vesia for consideration:

"Be careful with your shoulders. Anytime your arms go over your head like that (especially with bodyweight), you are putting stress on an area of the body that doesn't recover well, or quickly, from damage. Make sure you're properly warmed up. Don't do this routine everyday. Physical injuries are real, phobias aren't."

I answered him:
"So the best time to invert would be right after my karate classes when my muscles are all warmed up, and ready to go?"

He said:
"That's good. Also, a warmup of seated shoulder presses with a pair of 3 or 5 lb. dumbbells."

Anonymous said...

I have had one for the longest and love it. It does its intended purpose (back pains) VERY WELL.

I can also vouch for feeling less soreness from after lifting weights so it might help remove mental blocks for your next workout.

It has 2 problems though which require patience and time to adapt to

Biggest = ankles getting RAW from all that weight pulling. Even with the pricey name brand boots for my solid steel chair it took me almost a month for my ankle to get to the point where they could handle such stress being on them. I imagine boxers go through the same toughening process with their knuckles and hands,

Second problem= Brain freeze! Again time and patience because at first it feels like the top is going to pop. I can go at 90 degrees for 5 consecutive minutes now as opposed to 40 seconds at best before. (I do 20 minutes before bed every night)

If you are a manly man you could save yourself some $ and do loads and loads of commandos.

supergroup7 said...

Thanks for the knowledge, and encouragement. I appreciate it.