Do you subscribe to the use of devices that put people upside down, hanging by the ankles?

Comments for Traction

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May 19, 2013
Yoga swing
by: Jbird

Curious what you think about using a yoga swing? I used one hung very low, supporting my hips about 6" off the ground with my torso lying fully supported on the ground. The stretch was wonderful. After a bit in this stretch, i can then put my legs horizontally thru the swing, creating something similar to what you do with a block. Its not full back traction but isolated to lumbar with limited weight since the body is supported on the floor.

Jan 14, 2013
Upside-down traction machines
by: Sarah says

Traction – The upside own hanging machines

Yes, these machines are quite good. However, they have a few problems.
The first is that they are huge - almost taking up an entire room – and who can afford that? They are also very expensive but perhaps more significant is that you cannot lug them around with you wherever you go – which I would really like you to do with your BackBlock – even taking it with you to work if necessary.

Yes, I agree with them on principle because I'm so keen on traction. I also like the idea of hanging upside down because it feeds into my passion for Yoga and one of its simple edicts of spending at least three minutes a day with your head lower than our heart (I think it does great things for the brain in helping avoid atherosclerosis - and maybe - you never know Alzheimers!).

However, there are two other problems with the upside-down machines, which are to do with their mode of delivery of the distractive force. As you hang there, the decompression mainly targets your upper lumbar spine. You can read all about this in my book Back-in-Action (first published in 1986) where I describe how traction is much more effective at the parts of the spine that are straight - not curved. This means upper lumbar - and most problems are lower lumbar. You do get some effects lower, but more upper.

The other issue about this mode of delivery is that during a session you cannot get the important ‘pressure changes’ repeatedly through your spine, where negative pressures (traction) are regularly alternated with positive (compression) which is supplied by the humble little end-of-range spinal movements of Steps 2&3 of the PCT regime. You need these pressure changes. You don’t need just the pulling – and this is important. I believe it is the ‘knees to chest’ oscillating at about 1Hz that actually does most of the repair to the posterior ligamentous wall of the disc that is giving you all the pain. Just pulling apart won’t do this!

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