Inversion therapy is a burgeoning topic in the world of health and wellness, helping hundreds of thousands of people achieve back pain relief every day. However, few people know about this health craze’s lengthy history. In this article, we will review inversion therapy from its inception in 3,000 BC all the way to the present.
Inversion Therapy in Ancient Times
The first evidence of inversion therapy can be seen in ancient stone carvings, which appear to show early homo sapiens hanging upside-down on grid-like structures. It is believed that people in antiquity hung upside-down on ladders to improve their blood flow, stimulate their glands, and relieve abdominal pressure.
Starting in 400 BC, Hippocrates made a practice of lifting his patients up through a pulley system. His clever application of gravitational forces allowed for the relief of spinal and thoracic pressure. Followers of Hippocrates continued to develop his methods all the way until the turn of the milennium.
Inversion Therapy in the 1900’s
Starting in the 1970’s, Robert Martin Jr, MD, a chiropractor and medical doctor, began popularizing inversion therapy from his California practice. He collated his expertise in what he called the “Gravity Guidance System” – a guide to reversing the ill effects of gravity on human health. In this work, Dr. Martin reflects at length on inversion therapy as an elegant and simple panacea. His “Gravity Guidance System” became a cult hit, as it contributed deeply to the adoption of yoga.
In the 1980’s, inversion therapy took another ‘step’ forward in an explosive craze: gravity boots. More people than ever began experimenting with inversion therapy, leading to many pop culture references and over $70m in annual sales.
With this explosion in popularity came rabid competition. Soon, more than 100 companies were selling their own unique inversion therapy products. Unfortunately, not all of these companies developed high quality equipment, resulting in a rash of health scares and poorly-researched medical science that hurt inversion therapy for decades.
Present-Day Inversion Therapy: Where Are We Now?
Starting in the early 2000’s, inversion therapy began to rebound and usage one again soared. New interest in inversion therapy drove a huge upswing in scholarly research at notable universities. These studies poured credibility back in to Hippocrates’ gravitational principles of health. Notably, the US Army now includes inversion therapy in its training regimens.