Back traction, also known as non-surgical spinal decompression, is one of the most commonly used therapies by Chiropractors and Physical Therapists to treat chronic back pain. The medical science community has not widely supported spinal decompression yet (due to lack of scientific studies) but it has been successfully used by thousands to relieve back and neck pain for years.
For those of us with back pain and that can’t afford to go to a chiropractor several times per week, there are several ways to perform spinal decompression from home using a variety of devices.These devices are generally safe, but you should still consult your doctor beforehand since things can go wrong and cause more damage to your back if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here are the top 5 best back stretchers:
- Teeter EP-560 Inversion Table with Back Pain Relief Kit
- Ironman IFT 4000 Infrared Therapy Inversion Table
- Innova ITX9600 Heavy Duty Deluxe Inversion Therapy Table
- The Posture Wizard Back Stretcher
- Magic Back Stretcher Lumbar Support Device
Different Types Of Back Stretching Machines
Inversion Tables: Inversion tables are a type of table that can rotate 180 degrees to turn the user upside down while they hang from their ankles. This uses gravity expand the spine and take pressure off your spinal discs. This device works well for a variety of back problems but is especially effective for people with slipped or herniated discs.
While most of the evidence about the effectiveness of inversion tables seems to be anecdotal, many people swear by them and claim they are a real alternative to back surgery when used on a regular basis.
Lumbar Traction Back Stretchers: Lumbar devices can vary from a simple, arched plastic board that you can lie on to actual spine stretching machines that can leverage a door and a lever to extend the back. Typical back stretchers help the spine by repositioning it into its natural position, helping you unload the discs that might be slipped, twisted, or our of place. These devices are very simple, compact, and cost-effective.
Full Body Stretching Machines: There are several commercial stretching machines that can help you stretch out and decompress your back, legs, and more. These are typically more expensive than the other options but many users find it to be worth the cost. A few examples are the pretor 240i Commercial Series StretchTrainer and the LifeSpan SP100 Stretch Partner Stretching Machine.
Pull Up Bars: Pull up bars aren’t actually intended for spinal decompression but they certainly can get the job done. The primary drawback is that it is difficult to fully relax the back while maintaining your grip on the bar for several minutes at a time. One solution to this is to buy some wrist straps to help hold your grip on the bar, or to purchase some gravity boots and use them to hang upside down from your ankles. If you choose to go this route be absolutely sure your pull up bar is properly installed and able to handle your weight or you’ll risk seriously injuring yourself.
How Does Back Traction Heal Back Pain?
Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine, which relieves pressure on the spine due to gravity and helps expand compressed discs. Spinal discs are gel-like cushions between the vertebrate in your spine. For many people, this simple decompression of the cushions brings immediate back pain relief.
The theory behind spinal decompression therapy suggests that with repeated use over time the release of pressure on the spinal discs may cause bulging or herniated disks to retract.
This can also take pressure off of pinched nerves and also promote circulation of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disks so they can heal. The improved circulation can also help reduce inflammation.
A few general rules of thumb when doing back traction:
- Stop immediately if you feel pain or discomfort (in addition to your existing back pain)
- Back traction should not be performed if you have the following conditions: fracture, spinal implants, abdominal aortic aneurysm, advanced osteoarthritis, or have recently undergone surgery
- When performing back traction, it is important to keep your spine evenly aligned. Never twist the spine while doing traction.
But don’t let this scare you. Back traction can be extremely useful for treating herniated and bulging discs, sciatica, injured spinal nerves, muscle spasms, and degenerative disc disease.
The Winner: The Stamina In Line Back Stretch Bench
It is estimated that nearly 80% of Americans will experience some sort of back problems in their lifetime. This isn’t surprising considering how much pressure is put on our backs with our body weight and gravity. All of that pressure pushing down on your spine can compress it, which causes the pain you feel. To get rid of back pain, you can try the Stamina In Line Back Stretch Bench, which is designed to decompress your spine and relieve back pain. I’ve given it a try myself and reviewed it below.
Top Features/ Specs
Contoured Foam Padding: A slab of concrete with some metal rods won’t do much for relieving back pain. But when you use super dense, contoured foam you know you’re going in the right direction. This bench features dense foam on the ankle and arm supports gently and comfortably keep you in place while you are using the table.
Easy to Store: To store this back stretching bench, all you have to do is keep it in a dry place. You can adjust the table back to its shortest position if you prefer, or you can leave it where it is so that it’s ready for you next time. It doesn’t take up a ton of room, but it’s easy to move if you need to.
User-Friendly: This bench is also super easy to use and you can do it all by yourself. While lying on the bench, there is a small lever on the side that you push back and forth. The bench slowly stretches you out and continues to do so until you stop pushing the lever. I love this because you are able to get the exact amount of stretching you need, you have full control over it.
No Inversion Necessary: People also use inversion tables to decompress their spine, but they aren’t for everybody and can even be downright dangerous for some people. Inversion tables have not been proven to have lasting effects and for people with high blood pressure they can be dangerous because they increase blood pressure. They’re also prone to accidents and people tend to make their problems worse by staying inverted too long or misusing the table.
90 Day Warranty: With this back stretcher from Stamina, you also get a 90 day warranty from the manufacturer. I like this because it gives you plenty of time to test out the bench and see how it works. Of course, there are limits to the warranty, but as long as you use it properly, you should be covered.
When I first got the Stamina In Line bench I was a bit skeptical because I had tried inversion tables and didn’t like it. But I figured this was worth a shot because it was a way to decompress my spine without inversion. Setting it up was easy since it came with a detailed instruction manual, and operating it was a breeze too. The first time I tried it I remember I was surprised how comfortable it was. In my head I was imagining one of those medieval stretching torture devices, but the padding really does a lot to support you and gently stretch you. I never felt like my arms or legs were going to pop off either because I had full control over it. I was able to slowly stretch out to where I wanted to be, hold it for a few minutes, and then release it, and when I was done I felt way better. Needless to say, it didn’t take long at all for me to love this stretcher.
- Experience the advantages of spinal decompression without inversion
- Accommodates people of all sizes
The only downside of this stretcher is that it is somewhat expensive. Buying it isn’t likely to break the bank, but it isn’t just a couple bucks either. However, chronic back pain can really get in the way of your life and being able to relieve it without surgery is priceless. Once you start looking at the cost of surgery, or other pain relief options, this bench starts looking even more affordable.
My final verdict on this back stretching bench is that it makes a great tool for relieving back pain. I have been regularly using it since I got it and I couldn’t be happier with the results I’m seeing. I highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing back pain, especially people who also have high blood pressure, since it is safe and won’t raise your blood pressure. This simple, easy to use back stretcher could be the answer to your back pain woes.
The Top 5 Runner Ups
Below you’ll find our 5 highest rated back stretching machines, covering both inversion tables to lumbar back traction devices.
You'll be stretching your back in comfort thanks to the patented pressure-reducing ankle system that allows you to hang full inverted without any tugging or pinching on your ankles. You'll also have full control over your rotation thanks to precision balancing and secure lock-out. With several pre-set rotation angles included, you can invert to just about any angle you want without having to worry about flipping over or losing your balance.
FeaturesPatented security features include auto-locking hinges, clam locks, specialized pivot bearings and heat-treated steel parts ensure reliability and durability. Additional standard features include a heavy-duty steel base, corner feet to protect floors and scratch-resistant finish.
If that's not enough, all Teeter Inversion Tables are UL certified and tested for safety and quality. They generally outperform the competition when it comes to endurance, rotation control and ease of assembly. When you buy a Teeter, you can be sure that you're getting superior quality at all times and a name brand you can trust. With over 2 million customers and 30 years experience, Teeter is the brand to beat. And they stand by their quality, offering customers a 5-year guarantee on their products.
- 5-Step Assembly
- Folds for Storage
- UL Certified
- 5-year Full Warranty
- Full-Color Guide & DVD
- User Capacity: 4'8" - 6'6", 300 Lb.
- Precision Balanced
- Pre-set Rotation
- Secure Lock-Out in Full Inversion
- Price: high end
What People SayHundreds of users nationwide have shared their experiences with the product and its features. Most reviewers agree on the device’s superior quality and its ability to fully adapt to each user’s needs. Apart from quality, comfort is listed as one of the main reasons why so many people are choosing this product. Either because of its ergonomic design or pinch-free ankle locking system, the Teeter allows users to feel safe and comfortable at all times. While the price is higher than some other alternatives, you'll find the vast majority of customers are happy with the quality they receive for the price. When it comes to your health and safety, paying more should be a minor issue.
Rounding up, the Teeter EP-560 is potentially the best quality inversion table available on the market today. We rate it a Strong Buy.
The ankle braces have been ergonomically molded, making it a relatively comfortable product to use even when fully inverted. Inverting handle grips are also included to help users invert and exercise more comfortably. Finally, the table can be folded for practical storage when not in use.
FeaturesFew non-professional inversion tables feature this type of technology that allows users to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of infrared heat therapy. Research suggests that this type of therapy is thoroughly beneficial because it allows for deeper penetration into the human body. F.I.R offers major advantages over other types of heating therapies, mainly because it presents no unhealthy, electromagnetic concerns. Additionally, body circulation is greatly improved and injuries relieved. The energy surrounding infrared technology aids in decreasing stress levels, relaxing the muscles and expediting the healing of sprains and strains.
- 350 lbs weight capacity
- Height Adjustment up to 6’6”
- 2.5 inch Infrared heat therapy backrest
- 180 degree inversion
- Mesh pocket for remote control
- Price: high end
What People SayThe most frequently mentioned benefits are the table’s durability and its efficiency. Most reviewers agree that their back pain has been greatly diminished after extended use of this inversion table. It is sturdy, well built, and the infrared ads a nice bit of flair you won't find with other inversion tables. On the downside, a small number of buyers have complained about the product’s lack of instructions. It certainly isn't the easiest inversion table to set up, but note that customers are given access to online customer support, and some users have shared helpful tips online to make assembly easier.
In summary, the Ironman IFT 4000 Inversion Table is an excellent choice in high-end inversion tables and is very much worth your consideration.
If that weren't enough, there is also an adjustable heated massager built in with auto and manual settings to help your back muscles completely relax as you stretch, maximizing results. This makes it a force to be reckoned with in the inversion table market.
Finally, thanks to the 4-position adjustable safety pin, easy positioning and safer inverting is made possible.
- Product Dimensions: 46 x 28 x 63 inches
- Weight: 57 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
- Warranty: 1 year
- Multi-mode Massage Settings
- Soft Touch Foam handles
- Durable and Sturdy Steel Frame
What People SayHundreds of reviewers have shared their thoughts and experiences online, and the results are what you would expect from such a quality peice of equipment. Sturdiness is one of the most frequently-mentioned features. Because of its massive steel frame, this inversion table provides maximum support and stability and will last for years.
Of course, no fitness product comes without its flaws. Because of its heavy-duty steel tubing and large weight capacity (300lbs), the piece is larger and heavier than many of the others on the market and can be bulky to move around. Fortunately, the frame has been designed to fold for easy storage.
To round up, the Innova ITM4800 Advanced Heat and Massage Therapeutic Inversion table offers customers the chance of a superior inversion therapy, plus the benefits of heat therapy.
For those who aren't quite sure how to use this type of back stretching device, buyers have easy access to free online training videos that outline proper back stretching techniques utilizing all of the products included.
- Item Weight: 2 pounds
- Three-in-one Posture Wizard System
- Three levels of Adjustment
- Price: mid-range
What People SayThis is one of the most highly review lumbar back stretchers online, with most customers praising the device’s ability to deal with back pain in a simple and effective manner. The product is very high quality, especially for the price, and is easy to use any time of the day.
A few reviewers have complained that the device has actually worsened their back pain. When buying a lumbar stretcher you should be aware of the fact that patients with certain types of back conditions should not use this type of device. An inversion table may work better for you, but a professional consultation is always the best choice in such cases.
Overall, this is our top choice for lumbar back stretching devices. It is built with quality, delivers results, and is very easy to use.
Besides relieving back pain, this ChiSoft device is also helpful for posture correction, thus becoming a useful preventive tool. Secondly, there are no age constraints involved with its use. This means that people of all ages can enjoy the benefits of this back stretcher’s use. Physical therapists are recommending it all over the country to young people who have postural issues that may eventually lead to chronic back conditions.
Optimal DesignFeaturing a 100% ergonomically-sound design, this back stretcher shows a multi-level surface together with a three gear adjustment that allows for a deeper and more closely controlled stretch.
Just by following a simple assembly procedure, users are ready to make the most out of this device in no time. Also, because the back stretcher is extremely lightweight, users can easily transport it anywhere they go.
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.8 x 4 inches ; 1.2 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Multi-level design
- Easy installation
Customer Reviews and Final CommentsHundreds of reviews are sharing their experiences on this back stretcher online. The most frequently-mentioned benefit is practicality. This back stretcher is becoming well-known for its flexibility. Lightweight and easy to assemble, the device can be used twice a day completely hassle-free.
A few users have referred to the device’s size as being a bit too small for large sizes. Most back-stretching devices are pretty standard in size so the same can be said about most back stretchers.
In all, the Back Stretcher with Lumbar Support makes a fine choice to treat and prevent chronic lumbar pain.
How To Choose A Back Stretching Machine For Your Pain
This really depends on what type of back pain you have, your budget, and your physical ability. A simple lumbar back stretcher device is typically the entry level product since they are generally under $50, are light and compact, and very easy to use. Just lie it on the ground and lie on top of it with your back in proper position.
Inversion tables tend to be more expensive (in the $100-$400 range depending on features) and they are much larger and bulkier. They generally can do a better job at decompressing your spine than a regular lumbar back stretcher, but they also require a lot more investment both in terms of money and space in your home.
Stretching machines are generally the highest cost option, but they can do a great job at stretching out the back, among many other muscles. These machines can be $400-$500+ and are generally suited for people with a high budget and/or a strong need to stretch not just their back but their whole body.