The Initial Injury

Back in the winter of 2012 I experienced a debilitating back injury which resulted in sciatic nerve pain in my entire right leg. It was pain like nothing I had ever experienced even though the back injury itself ended up being relatively minor. The injury was so minor in fact, that I couldn’t make out the tiny bulge between L4 and L5 in my spine, even as my doctor pointed it out to me on the MRI images. I just nodded my head in agreement, amazed that something so minuscule could wreak so much havoc on my body.

Eventually, I was referred to a pain management doctor who was able to reduce the swelling and inflammation of my injured area by injecting a synthetic steroid into my spine with a giant needle, epidural style. I was one of the lucky ones who found pain relief with the three injections which took place over the course of about thirty days.

Cartoon in my doctor’s office


Learning About Inversion Therapy

During my last visit, my doctor spoke with me about inversion therapy. My doctor explained that only about 25% of his patients who already have back injuries are good candidates for using an inversion board. He told me that since I had no arthritis in my spine, I should see good results stretching out my back and decompressing my spine via inversion therapy.

After I felt fully heeled and no longer had any residual pain or numbness, I ordered a Teeter inversion board (affiliate link). At first it worked great and I used it religiously after my runs. I’d hang on my inversion board for twenty minutes to allow my spine to stretch back out after the pounding it had taken during my run. I considered my Teeter to be one of three important tools in my recovery toolbox – along with my foam roller (affiliate link) and my yoga strap (affiliate link).


Why I’m Taking A Break From Inversion Therapy

As good as inversion therapy felt in the beginning, I’m currently taking time away from it because, at this point, I think I’m actually making matters worse. Here’s why…

1.  Lower back stiffness – I began to notice that when I got up in the mornings my back was so stiff that I couldn’t bend over to put on my socks and shoes. When I realized that this was always worse on days after running, I attributed it to running, not over stretching from the Teeter; however, whenever I traveled and didn’t follow up my runs with hanging on my Teeter, I didn’t have the same level of stiffness. Since returning from visiting my mom for a week in late July, I haven’t used my Teeter and I’ve been surprised at how much less stiff I’ve been.

2.  Foot pain – About a year ago I began to notice a lot of pain in my right foot and eventually realized that there was a correlation between hanging on my Teeter and my foot throbbing later in the day. The Teeter wasn’t the actual cause of my foot pain, rather the pressure the roll bar put on the top of my foot was aggravating an already angry foot.  According to my podiatrist, I have post-tramatic arthritis in my right forefoot/midfoot from a couple of trail running injuries and it doesn’t take much to cause it to rear its ugly and painful head.

3.  Neck pain – During the past six months or so I started noticing that each time I pulled myself out of the inverted position, I felt like I was straining my neck as I shifted my position to upright. Again, the original neck pain had started due to something else entirely; however, it hurt a little more on days I’d used my Teeter.


What’s Next?

These unwelcome side effects have convinced me that inversion therapy is no longer the right thing for me. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, it worked well for me for a number of years so I’m not suggesting that it shouldn’t be done. It’s just not the right thing for me at this time, and most likely won’t be in the future. Should you be interested in trying inversion therapy, be sure to talk with your doctor to make sure it’s the right approach for your situation.


  • Questions:
  • Have you ever tried inversion therapy?
  • Have you had any sort of back pain?
  • What was the last running or workout injury you experienced?


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.