If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, it’s definitely worth trying spinal decompression therapy.
Clinical studies have shown that in can be extremely effective for back pain, and also for treating other spinal issues.
Of course there are dangers and you should definitely consult with your physician.
In this guide you’ll find everything about trying decompression therapy at home.
I’ll talk about benefits, how it works, list some effective exercises, and also recommend a few back traction devices.
How Does It Work?
Spinal decompression sounds very complex, but it’s not. It makes use of gravity to stretch your spine and relieve the compressive forces between your vertebrae.
What it actually does is reverse the effects of gravity when you’re standing, sitting, or doing your daily activities.
By doing so, you will gently increase the available space between your spinal bones.
There are many types of spinal decompression.
Some techniques still need to be done with the aid of a clinician as they need specialized equipment that is usually expensive and requires special adjustments.
However, modern medicine makes everything easier, and it is now possible to complete most spinal decompression therapies safely and effectively in your own home.
Why would you take the time to perform decompression exercises or buy specialized machines?
Because after starting to see the results, you will not want to stop performing these exercises that relieve your back pain and improve your quality of life.
Consider these benefits and see for yourself if spinal decompression is for you.
The goal of these exercises and machines is to relieve pain, not causing an additional problem.
Spinal decompression is not painful, and you will actually feel a significant reduction in back pain symptoms.
Practical & cheap
Spinal decompression is a technique that may require a few gadgets.
However, you can also try a few exercises regardless of where you are. No drugs or surgery required.
Some devices are portable, others are not quite as portable. But there are many options out there with the majority being really effective, and pretty cheap as well.
Takes pressure off spinal discs
The most important benefit of spinal decompression is releasing pressure off spinal discs.
The technique stretches your spine and increases the space between the vertebrae. This is a slight effect but has major implications in the incidence and severity of back pain.
Decreases muscle tension
Spinal decompression acts on your vertebrae and muscles at the same time.
By relaxing your muscles you can achieve faster and more effective decompression.
That’s why people with back pain reduce their symptoms, either by reducing muscle tension, decompressing your spine, or both.
Straightens spinal curves
Patients with spinal misalignments may benefit widely from spinal decompression since their back pain is probably associated with pinched nerves.
If you don’t need surgery and your problem is not severe, spinal decompression could be what you need for a full recovery without any drugs.
Scientific Research Studies
According to clinical studies, spinal decompression is effective, and the theory works to improve the symptoms of the patients in clinical practice.
You don’t need many sessions to start seeing results either.
According to a recent clinical trial published in the journal Orthopedic Technology Review, 86% of patients with back pain reported immediate improvement after their first session.
Some of them reported a significant reduction of pain for the next 90 days.
Doctors also reported improvement in the physical exams of 92% of patients, and these effects lasted for 90 days in most cases.
Patients with herniated discs
These results are impressive, and not the only ones in the scientific literature. Another study that included patients with herniated discs, reported good to excellent results in over 85% of patients.
But is there any benefit in repeating this therapy more than once?
According to a study performed at the Rio Grande Hospital, there is an actual benefit.
This study tested the effect of 10 sessions vs. 20 sessions on patients with low back pain.
The effects were excellent in both groups because both reported at least partial remission of their symptoms.
However, only the 20-session group achieved total remission of pain in over 75% of participants against 42% in the 10-session group.
Warnings & Precautions
Spinal decompression is promising, but it’s not for everybody.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying spinal decompression especially if you suffer from these ailments:
- Degenerative joint disease.
- Fractures in the spinal column.
- After spinal surgery.
- Spinal nerve root impingement.
- Cardiovascular disease, especially in the case of inversion therapy.
- Pregnant women.
Non- Surgical Decompression Options
There are many ways to achieve spinal decompression, including a surgical approach.
However, those are usually reserved for very severe cases, and still, some patients with severe disease may not be fitting candidates for surgery.
Luckily, there are non-surgical decompression options, too.
Spinal Decompression Devices
You can achieve non-surgical decompression through spinal decompression devices and decompression exercises.
Devices are usually more effective, and there are many types to choose from.
These machines safely turn your body upside down or at different angles and allow gravity to decompress your spine naturally.
Teeter FitSpine X3 Inversion Table
This is one of the best inversion machines on the market. It gives you total control of the inclination angle with a slight movement of your arms.
It is also very safe and feels comfortable. The machine can be adjusted to different heights and comes 85% pre-assembled for easier use right after unboxing.
Neck Traction Devices
These neck traction devices apply the same principles of decompression in your cervical spine. They are useful if you’re always leaning forward with your neck into your laptop or PC screen.
ComfortTrac Deluxe Home Cervical Traction Kit
This is by far one of the best cervical traction devices. It uses a pumping machine that inflates to stretch your cervical spine.
It also has various inclination angles and other interesting features at an affordable price.
Portable Back Traction Devices
The main feature of these devices is the ability to use them almost anywhere. All you’ll need is a door frame and a few instructions.
Sit and Decompress - The Ultimate Back Stretcher
This is an effortless traction device you can use at home.
It wraps between your chest and abdominal area to secure your body, then stretches your back muscles and spinal column when you make the movement of sitting straight down.
Sometimes you don’t need so much traction, only a gentle stretch.
Back stretchers are made to achieve relaxation of your back muscles and improved alignment of your spine.
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The best thing about this back stretcher is its heat therapy and the fact that it allows you to make adjustments to the temperature and time.
Moreover, it is extremely portable and can be used in just about any given situation. The package includes a charger and detailed instructions.
Gravity boots are a step forward if you tried inversion therapy and feel you want something a bit more challenging and fun.
With these you will be literally hanging from your legs.
Teeter EZ Up Inversion & Chin Up System With Rack
This pair of gravity boots are very sturdy and secure.
The materials are high-quality and it does the work with no harm to your heels.
However, similar to any other pair of gravity boots, we recommend a bit of physical fitness and some adventurous spirit to try this alternative.
We have mentioned inversion therapy more than once in this article because it is one of the most effective ways to achieve spinal decompression.
But what is it and what can you expect from this type of therapy?
What it is.
Inversion therapy is a type of treatment that makes use of gravity forces to stretch your spine while you’re suspended upside down or at an angle.
By shifting your body gravity, your back becomes relieved from the extra weight you carry all day long, every day.
The spine becomes naturally decompressed with no extra traction on your behalf.
Inversion therapy is beneficial for patients with a spinal condition such as scoliosis or sciatica, and many patients with chronic back pain have reported other benefits as well.
Does it work?
The benefits of inversion therapy are exactly the same as the benefits of spinal decompression stated above.
It is actually one of the most effective ways to achieve spinal decompression.
Patients who underwent inversion therapy for only three minutes at different angles report a significant reduction of back pain, especially after using 60º inversions or more.
Inversion therapy relieves the space between your spinal discs, plus increases your mobility and flexibility.
It has actually reduced the need for surgery in some patients, preventing disability in a more natural way and without the associated risks of surgical procedures.
All of this has been tested multiple times by different clinical trials, and the FDA has reviewed and registered inversion tables as a potential and safe way to reduce back pain.
If you’re hesitant about inversion therapy and don’t want to buy anything, stretches are a great alternative for you.
It is perfect for people who have limited mobility and it’s easy on the body.
Plus, you can do them almost everywhere, all you’ll need is some available space, and maybe a yoga mat for your comfort.
We recommend the following stretches to get yourself started in spinal decompression:
Happy baby pose
Lying on your back directly on the floor can relieve back pain, especially if you do this stretch.
- Start by lying on your back and bend your knees until they touch your belly.
- Hold your feet from the outside with both hands.
- Stretch your knees to each side and towards you, opening slightly wider than your abdomen and hold for 20 seconds.
- Repeat the movement three or four times every day.
This stretch relaxes your upper back and shoulders. It is fantastic if you realize you’re adopting a hunched posture in front of your computer.
- Stand upright and interlace your fingers, bringing your arms overhead.
- Stretch until your elbows are straight and hold for 20 or 30 seconds.
- Go back to the initial position and repeat 4 or 5 times every day.
This pose is easy to do and provides gentle pressure upon your back and hips.
- Start by sitting on the floor with your legs supporting all of your weight.
- Reach forward with your arms, stretch your back as much as possible, and hold the position for 10 seconds.
- Do the same again, but this time leaning your body to the right and the left side.
- Repeat 3 times every day.
This stretch is also very useful for your upper back and shoulders. The only thing you need is a surface at the level of your hips to hold on to.
- Start by holding on to the surface and lean back, straightening your elbows.
- You will feel a gentle pressure upon your back and shoulders.
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds as you take deep breaths.
- Repeat three times every day.
This is an affordable and easy way to make gravity work on your behalf. In this case, all you need is a pull-up bar or somewhere you can stay hanging for a while.
- Start by holding on to the bar and release your body weight.
- Relax your feet and feel the gentle stretch on your back.
- Take deep breaths for up to 30 seconds.
- Repeat twice or three times every day.
Cat cow pose
This exercise is extremely easy, and one of the most recommended for people with mobility problems.
- Start by getting on all fours, with your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
- Move your head towards the floor as you arch your back.
- Go back to the initial position and stretch your back as your head looks upwards to the ceiling.
- Repeat the same movement up to 30 times every day.
Decompress Spine Sleeping
It is also possible to contribute to decompress your spine when you’re sleeping. This is what you should consider:
- You would need a medium-firm mattress that has excellent support for the back and is still comfortable.
- If you sleep on a very soft mattress, you can increase your back support by adding a thick sheet of plywood under it.
- Use a pillow made of memory foam to support your head.
- With a pillow placed under your neck and between your knees, lie on your side, flex your hips and bend your knees at 30 degrees,
- When you lie on your back, place a pillow beneath your neck and knees. Then bend your knees a bit and keep them at a 30-degree angle.