Let me be very clear. This newsletter is not an ad for any particular health device. No one paid to be listed here. Among the hundreds of health remedies that I have tried over my 40 year career as a nutritionist and health counselor, the incline board is in the top ten for effectiveness. I used to have back problems. Not any more. At age 70 my back is in better shape that when I was 20 and was troubled with back pains. At 6’3″ am in the category of “likely” for back problems. The solution has been many fold, including a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients. I exercise, build my back muscles, walk, minimize chair time, and more. Yet, the crowning glory of back problems is traction…stretch out the vertebrae in your back.
The average adult has 24 bones in the spine which are a marvel of engineering. Think of 24 spools of thread that are stacked on top of each other with the spinal cord running through the hole and nerves radiating out between each of the “spools” or vertebrae. Think of your skull perched on the cervical vertebrae as a bowling ball resting on a broomstick. The problem comes with gravity, aging, and sedentary lifestyle. Joseph Pilates (1883-1967) was a world famous physical trainer who coined the desk and chair as the most dangerous inventions ever. Indeed, sitting too long creates havoc with posture and the spine. That’s where the incline board comes to the rescue. While there are many incline boards, inversion boards available. I chose the Total Gym because you can do so much more with it. Again, no ad here. I have no conflict of interest.
Regular use of a slant board is a wonderful healthy habit to add to a healthy living regimen. 65 million Americans have recently reported back pains with 16 million Americans suffering from chronic back pain. 500,000 back surgeries annually are performed in the US at a cost of $11 billion. Joseph Maroon, MD is a world famous neurosurgeon who performs many back surgeries each year. He uses triage to determine who is a good candidate for back surgery. One of his favorite initial therapies to reduce back inflammation is fish oil therapy. I take fish oil supplements.
Health Benefits Using a Slant Board
In this discussion, we will look at a brief history of inversion therapy, and how a slant board improves overall health, and especially how a slant board improves circulation and back health.
But first, let us find out what a slant board is!
How a Slant Board Improves Overall Health
The dictionary definition of a slant board, also known as a slanting board is; a long, tiltable board on which you can lay down so that your legs are at a higher level than your head. The board is used for relaxation or exercise.
Furthermore, application of a slanting board in relaxation suggests that it has a positive effect on the body. This is the basis on which studies have been carried out to determine if an inclining board has any health benefits.
If you cannot buy or borrow a slant/inversion board, then lay on the floor with your legs on a chair to relieve pressure on the lower back.
Slant Board or Inversion Therapy
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is said to have witnessed the use of inversion therapy at about 400 B.C.
At the time, inversion therapy involved tying a patient by the ankles or knees to a ladder, and then holding the ladder upright so that the patient’s body would be inverted with the legs at the top while the head would be at the bottom.
Inversion has also been practiced for thousands of years in yoga through poses such as a headstand. The aim, both in early medicine and yoga has been to temporarily counteract the effects of gravity on the human body. Consequently, inclining boards or tables were developed for purposes of performing inversion therapy.
How Does A Slant Board Work?
Lying down on the slant board with your legs higher than the head and heart, forces your blood to flow towards your upper body more easily. This is the inverse of the normal flow. It eases pressure on lower body veins, muscles and bones. In addition, lying on the slanting board eases pressure on your internal organs as they tend to shift towards the diaphragm.
The easing of pressure on organs, muscles, connective tissues, ligaments and joints helps relieve back pain.
By relieving some pressure in the veins in the legs and other lower parts of the body, an incline board helps improve the condition of varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Besides, by spending some time on a slanting board each day or every few days, your brain receives more blood and therefore more nutrients and oxygen. Now, since your brain has more nutrition and more oxygen, it can perform at a higher efficiency, again leading to healthier living.
How a Slant Board Improves Circulation
In normal circumstances, your heart pumps blood to all parts of the body through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. The same blood has to travel back to the heart and lungs for oxygenation before pumping back to the various parts of the body. This back and forth is known as blood circulation. However, for blood to travel back to the heart from the lower parts of the body there is gravitational resistance.
Your body may also have other problems that may be causing difficulties in returning blood to the heart from the legs and the rest of the lower body. These inefficiencies lead to other problems such as varicose veins and swelling of the lower legs.
But inversion changes the direction of gravitational pull and therefore helps to drain blood from your body’s extremities to the heart and lungs.
Inversion also aids flow of lymph fluid from the lower body.
How a Slant Board Improves Back Health
Normally, when you are in an upright position, the force of gravity pulls down on your body so that the discs in the spinal column are compressed. The compression also affects the nerves, connective and other tissues within your back. This continuous compression is the root cause of back pain.
When you get onto a slanting board and your body is inclined so that legs are higher than the head, the force of gravity is inverted and everything is pulled upwards towards your head. Reduced pressure causes a loosening or lengthening of the spine such that you gain some height. As the pressure on the discs and the nerves reduces, you also get relief from back pain.
A study conducted by the Newcastle University between February 2003 and September 2006, and involving 22 patients with back pain for whom back surgery had been recommended established that regular use of an incline board relieved the condition so well that the patients no longer needed to undergo surgery.
It is worth to note that invasive surgery for back pain does not always provide long lasting relief. By contrast, inversion therapy using an incline board for short periods (about 5 to 20 minutes) daily, can lead to relief that lasts for decades. More important is the fact that a few weeks of inversion therapy may be all that is required to attain relief.
Other Health Benefits of a Slant Board
While aslant board helps improve circulation and back health, it also has other health benefits. Most of these benefits result from the decompression and include the following:
- Relief of joint pain
- Relaxation of muscles all over the body
- Stress reduction
- Improved flow of lymph fluid
- Improved posture
- Improved lung function
- Clears sinuses
- Reduces headaches
- Improved breathing
- Better digestion
- Reduced joint pressure/ stress after working out
- Repositioning of prolapsed internal organs
How to Use a Slant Board
While there are many different types of incline boards, their basic use is to hold your body securely in a slanting position. To achieve this, the incline board will have some ankle grips and padding to make lying on it comfortable. There may also be some grip rails so that you can support yourself as you get into position or disembark.
To use the slanting board:
- Make sure that you have any empty stomach and your heart is at its resting rate
- Set the board to the required slanting angle
- Climb onto it and secure your feet using the ankle grips and lay back gently
- Remain in the inclined position for a period of time (you can start with less than a minute and build this up to 5 minutes and more over time)
- When you are through with a session, rise up gently, loosen the ankle grips and climb down from the incline board
In case you are suffering from any medical condition, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before using a slant board.
The use of slanting therapy is a practice going back thousands of years and the use of an incline board is an upgraded method of relieving health conditions. I believe that this discussion on how a slant board improves circulation and back health will help you take charge of your circulatory and back health and provide many health benefits for healthier living.