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Gravity equipment helps the user extend and separate the spine to alleviate back pain and increase blood flow. Such equipment has to be specially designed to support the body's weight and to make it easy for the user to get inverted. The most common types of gravity equipment are the inversion table and inversion boots, both of which allow the user to hang upside down for short periods of time. Inversion tables take up much more room than inversion boots, but tables are much easier to use and are a safer choice for the beginner.
Inversion boots are specially designed boots that tighten up around the ankle and foot. They have a foam lining for comfort and a plastic shell for support. A hook is fastened to the plastic shell, and this hook will catch onto a chin-up bar or other type of support bar fastened to beams or other type of framing. This type of gravity equipment is for advanced users, however, because getting into position can be quite difficult. Getting out of the hanging position can also be a challenge, so beginners should stay away from this type of gravity equipment.
Inversion tables accomplish the same goal as inversion boots, but the process of getting into and out of position is much simpler. An inversion table is a piece of gravity equipment with a metal frame and a bench that pivots at a central point so it can rotate upside down. The bench has ankle stirrups at its lowest end, and the user will step into these stirrups and lean against the bench. When the user leans backward, the bench inverts and the user can hang by his or her ankles. The inversion table features handholds that allow the user to ease into position, and to get out of position quickly if necessary. New users should be careful when using gravity equipment, as it can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure and dizziness.
Simple straps can also act as gravity equipment. By hanging a strap over a door and grasping it at either end with both hands, a user can slowly slide downward and allow his or her own weight to spread the spine. Some straps even come specially designed with a harness that fits around the face and chin so the user can hang from the door by his or her head. When used properly, this type of strap is effective in allowing the vertebrae to spread apart and relieve pain.
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