Back pain can negatively impact your life. Overuse, sports, exercise, and old age are all common causes, and this can limit what you're able to do.
There are lots of ways to alleviate back pain. Generally, the safest and most productive solution for back and neck pain is physical therapy. By introducing the right stretching techniques and specialized exercises into your daily routine, you can help strengthen your spine to reduce pain and prevent further injury.
Back stretching machines are specialist devices which help to flex and strengthen your spine, and the muscles around it. These machines offer a range of benefits to the user and have been proven to be more consistent and effective than traditional stretching.
This article explores the different types of back stretching devices and reviews some of the most popular models on the market.
|Nitrofit Limber Pro Stretch Machine...||72 Reviews|
|Stamina Inline Back Stretch Bench||256 Reviews|
|IRONMAN Gravity Highest Weight...||3,424 Reviews|
|Teeter EP-560 Ltd. Inversion Table,...||1,524 Reviews|
|Stamina Inline Traction Control...||116 Reviews|
|North American Healthcare JB4866...||1,180 Reviews|
|Spine-Worx Back Realignment Device||1,577 Reviews|
|ChiFit Multi-Level Back Stretching...||305 Reviews|
|URBNFit Exercise Ball (55 cm) for...||3,326 Reviews|
Types of Back Stretching Devices
An inversion table allows you to hang by your ankles and invert your body to stretch out your spine fully. This has been proven to be useful for those with long- and short-term back conditions and can even help athletes perform more effectively. You should also consult your physician before use as inversion tables aren’t suitable for those with certain medical conditions.
These machines specifically target the lower back. A mechanical lumbar traction machine helps alleviate this pain by decompressing the lumbar vertebrae. This is done by slowly stretching out the impacted area, and there should be very little pain or discomfort. You will use it for 10-12 minutes at a time, and it's excellent for preventing long term back issues.
These are most similar to what a chiropractor would use. These are powerful devices which work as a good alternative to inversion tables. If your back is sore, you may experience some discomfort at first, but this machine is the closest you'll get to the professional stretching experience.
Straps and Exercise Balls
Working on your core is essential for strengthening and protecting your back. Using an exercise ball helps build up your core muscles and increase your overall stability. It's also a fantastic way to stretch out your back and help alleviate any pain in your spine. This is slightly less specialized equipment but affordable and effective. Working this into your daily routine will bring a whole range of benefits to your body.
Benefits of Back/Spine Stretching
- 1Heal and prevent back pain
Stretching out your back and spine helps reduce and alleviate any current back pain. It also helps avoid any pain in the future, making you more resilient and protecting your body from injury down the line.
- 2Increased blood flow
An often overlooked benefit of regular back stretching is how it improves your blood flow. This helps give your muscles oxygen and energy they need to perform and reduces the recovery time needed after exercise.
- 3Improved flexibility
Stretching your back helps your whole body be more flexible. This enables you to perform day to day activities more efficiently and gives you a wider range of motion, helping you move more freely. There is a whole range of benefits that come with flexibility, and it all starts with your back and spine.
- 4Better performance
If you play sports or take part in physical activity, then regular stretching will help boost your performance. It will let you move more freely and recover more quickly. It will also help prevent injury so you can perform for longer.
- 5Stress relief
Stress can come from having tightness in the muscles. By stretching out your back, you can get rid of built-up stress and free your mind. It can also help prevent tension headaches and make you calmer in your overall day to day life.
Finding the Best Back Stretching Machine
There are a lot of benefits to owning a back stretching machine, but it can be challenging to know where to start. If you're looking for a good quality and effective device, then these are some of the key aspects you should consider:
Type Vs. Focus
When considering the options for your back stretching machine, you need to consider how you're going to use it and where the issue is. There are a variety of machines which will stretch out your full body. These tend to be larger, heavy-duty machines that will cost a few hundred dollars. Other, more targeted machines will be best for your lower back, offering lumbar stretches.
If you aren't suffering from chronic back pain, then you may want to invest in some straps, bands, and an exercise ball. This way, you can customize how you use them and build up your overall strength in specific areas.
Once you've considered what type of machine you need, then you have to think about the practicalities. You need to consider how much space you have available in your home and how you'll use it. The large, heavy-duty machines will generally be 50-80 inches by 30-50 inches, but a lot of the newer models use less space and can be folded down.
If space is a real issue, you could consider small devices and move them around within your home as needed.
Durability is always a key characteristic to consider. To get a good value product you'll want to make sure it will last a long time and stand up to at least some heavy use. A lot of the best models have been made to be lightweight (under 75 pounds) but use steel for the frames. Our advice is to spend a little more but get a solid, steel frame where possible.
User Weight Limitations
You need to make sure that the back stretching device meets your needs and can accommodate an appropriate weight range. Some of the cheaper devices will only support up to 200 pounds, but the heavy-duty modern ranges will allow up to 350 pounds.
Alongside durability, you have to consider the comfort of the device. Most back stretching devices are bought to help alleviate pain, so it's essential it's comfortable to use and won't cause more issues. Look out for machines with significant padding. The top brands offer ergonomic designs, and there are adjustable knee pads and padded handlebars.
Most models are now made to be ready to use on arrival or only have one or two components to put together, but some can be complicated. If you're comfortable with DIY projects then this won’t be a big issue for you, but for anyone else you should look closely at the instructions before purchase to make sure you aren’t biting off more than you can chew.
The warranty on back stretching devices varies between manufacturers. You should be looking for 2 years at a minimum, and a lot of companies offer 5 years+ with their products. Make sure you have some protection as a warranty is a great way to ensure you're protected if anything goes wrong. It’s worth noting that often upholstery and padding will have a shorter warranty than the frame and it’s a good idea to find out all the details before purchasing.
A lot of the top brands will offer full guides with their products and tips on how to use the device properly. Some even provide accompanying DVD workouts to get you started. This isn't the most important feature but can be useful if you're trying this for the first time.
9 Best Back Stretchers Reviewed
1. Nitrofit Limber Pro
Full Body & Back Stretching Machine
(L x W x H)
50.5 x 22.4 x 38.5
Yes, 5 years on frame, 2 on upholstery
The Nitrofit Limber Pro is a full body stretching machine with a range of different setups to target various muscle groups. It's designed to mimic the heavy-duty machinery you might find in the gym but smaller, and more compressed so that it's suitable for the home.
The Nitrofit Limber Pro is large but still small enough to be stored in the home comfortably. The frame is made from steel and can handle weights up to 250 pounds. There's also an additional support bar that will allow it to support loads up to 300 pounds. The whole machine is fully adjustable with 7 different seating positions and integrated wheels.
The versatility of the Nitrofit back stretching machine is what makes it stand out from the crowd. There are a lot of different ways to use the machine, making it suitable for practically anyone. Plus, it's easy to assemble. This allows you to get going almost as soon as it arrives and lets you quickly deal with muscle tension in your body.
User feedback for the Limber Pro is exceptionally positive. What's impressive is that both experienced users who do a lot of stretching and those who are entirely new to it see the real value in the machine. They specifically appreciate the different functions and comfort offered by Nitrofit.
Overall this is a really well made and durable back stretcher. It’s perfect for those who play a lot of sports or are generally quite active with several different features to fully stretch the whole body. It's competitively priced in the market, and for the functionality, it's definitely good value. This body stretcher is perfect for anyone who experiences back problems and wants to tackle them effectively.
2. Stamina In Line Bench
Best Horizontal Stretching Machine
(L x W x H)
72 x 25 x 11
Yes, 1 year frame, 90 days for everything else
The Stamina In Line Bench is simple and effective. It features a padded bench with various cushioned support arms attached to it. It's straightforward to use, with a side lever allows you to stretch out your back gently.
This is a pretty big device, but given how thin it is, it can be stored easily. It's made from steel to reinforce it and make it suitable for heavy use. The whole machine is designed to be customizable, and you can move the parts to fit your body. It's worth stating that this device is not recommended for anyone over 6 ft 4.
The best feature of this machine is simplicity compared to other back stretching machines. It doesn't have the same functionality as some other models, but it will give you a good quality stretching motion that helps relieve pain and protects you from injury in the future.
There is a lot of positive user feedback about the Stamina In Line Bench. In a lot of the reviews, people are impressed with how quickly the stretching has benefitted their back, and how sturdy the unit is. Some users are critical of the fact you have to lie on the ground to use it, which can be a challenge to those with mobility issues.
Overall, however, it's a well-rated machine with over 85% customer satisfaction rate on Amazon.
You will have to register your product for it to be covered by the warranty. Full instructions can be found on their user manual. You can also contact their customer services here.
This is a simple but effective product which has been made to last. It’s priced competitively and if used regularly, can give some outstanding results.
3. IRONMAN Gravity
Best Value Inversion Table
(L x W x H)
49 x 26 x 65
Yes, Lifetime for Frame, 1 year for other parts
This is a tough and effective machine that has been proven to bring a lot of benefits. Not only will it stretch out your back, but it will also help improve your circulation. It's been intelligently designed, and it's clear that IRONMAN knows their stuff.
The IRONMAN Gravity is one of the larger, more robust machines. It has been ergonomically made to support the body entirely. A safety strap across the middle securely attaches you to the device while you're engaging your back and stretching out.
It features a stainless steel and chrome frame which is exceptionally sturdy. It can support much heavier weights than alternatives but is still comfortable with 2.5-inch memory foam pillow cushioning. Plus there's a removable lumbar support pillow
Some of the criticisms from users have been about the set up of the table. I wouldn’t describe this as overly complicated, but it’s certainly more fiddly than some other products. I would stick closely to the instruction manual and maybe ask an experienced DIY friend for help if you’re struggling.
The IRONMAN Gravity is one of the best value inversion tables on the market. It's priced competitively and offers a lot more value than some back stretching machines which are 2 or 3 times the price. Definitely, one to consider for the future.
4. Teeter EP-560
Top of the Range Inversion Table
(L x W x H)
84 x 86 x 28.8 inches
Yes, 5 years for Frame, 1 year for other parts
The Teeter EP-560 is designed to relieve pressure and pain in your back as naturally as possible. If used regularly, it gives greater flexibility and range of motion, making it well suited for athletes. Plus it can improve your circulation and prevent injury even if you only use it for a few minutes a day.
This is a larger inversion table, but it can be folded away for easy storage. It has a durable steel frame which is suitable for heavier users, and the ankle holds have been made to give maximum comfort.
It features a range of pre-set motions which are designed to fully stretch out your back and help in the healing process. The contoured bed flexes to meet your back movements and allows you to lean into the stretch to see even greater benefit.
The user feedback for this product is incredibly positive, with over 90% user satisfaction. It's inspiring to read the reviews of those on the road to recovery and encouraging to see just how much the EP-560 table has helped them. People seem to appreciate all the little features that Teeter have put in to make this a top of the range inversion table.
Some people are critical of the size and weight of the device and how it can take up room in the home. It is a larger product, but with that size and weight is a lot of sturdiness that you won't get with cheaper products. Overall, the feedback is very positive but make sure you have room at home before buying.
This inversion table combines quality with comfort in a way that makes stretching much more enjoyable. There's a lot of value here, and it's well suited for those who are serious about dealing with back pain.
5. Stamina Inline Traction Control System
Non-Inversion Back Stretcher
(L x W x H)
34x 23 x 38
Lower and middle back
Yes, 1 year for Frame, 90 days for other parts
This back stretching machine is designed for those who don’t like, or can’t use, inversion tables. It’s made to provide all the same benefits by aligning your shoulders, back, and hips, without the need to hang upside down while doing it.
The machine is straightforward and comes with a full user guide. The Inline traction control system makes it suitable for those with mobility issues, offering your body support. It also helps strengthen your core generally to improve posture.
The Stamina non-inversion back stretcher is smaller and much easier to store than a standard inversion machine. It has a sturdy steel frame which can support heavy weights, and it is designed to spread your weight evenly, so you're adequately supported. It also features high-density foam padding for added comfort.
The Stamina back stretcher gets very positive reviews, and over 80% of users seem satisfied with it. What seems to impress people most is how effective it is. The traction control system keeps your body in line and focuses on stretching out your legs, hips, and lower back. Users seem to appreciate the pain relief and the added benefits of improved posture and increased core strength.
Some users have complained that this machine can put increased strain on your shoulders and. If you are carrying any shoulder injury, then this product may not be appropriate for you.
Overall, the user reviews are very positive, and it's encouraging to see so many customers pleased with the product.
Stamina has created the perfect solution for those with medical issues that make inversion tables unsuitable. It focuses the stretch on the middle and lower back, dealing directly with nerve pain associated with sciatica. If you're looking for easy, but effective stretching, then this machine will suit you perfectly.
6. North American Healthcare JB4866
Best for Back & Neck Therapy
(L x W x H)
21 x 18.5 x 16.8 inches
Lower back and Neck
Yes, 1 year
The North American Healthcare JB4866 is a neck and back stretching machine that targets both of these areas to relieve pain and strengthen the muscles. This allows you to move more easily, helping with day to day activities.
The curved back stretching machine has one of the simplest designs and is smaller and more affordable than the ones mentioned so far. By positioning it under your lower back, you can help get rid of some of the pressure to soothe any aches and pains you may have. It can also help to improve your overall posture.
It has comfortable padding to give you a firm, but comfortable stretch and the ergonomic shape conforms to your spine to help stretch it out. For best results, you should look to use it twice daily for around 5 minutes.
With over 75% user satisfaction, this is a well thought of product. Positive reviews from customers all point out how well this works with a much smaller price tag than with large devices. Some users have criticized the device and said it isn't as effective as large products. Of course, this is not the same as an inversion table or equivalent, so the expectation should be lower, but at this price point, it's still offering a lot of value.
If you want a quick solution to back pain, then this is the one for you. There are a lot of different applications for this product, and regular use can help you cut down on the need to visit a chiropractor. Simple but effective and does what it sets out to do.
7. Spine-Worx Back
Best Realignment Device
(L x W x H)
25 x 9.5 x 4
Yes, 1 year
The Spine-Worx realignment device is small and lightweight. By adjusting the pressure in different directions, you can help realign your vertebrae. This helps alleviate any pain or aches and increase your mobility even after a few uses.
To use the machine, all you need to do is gently lower yourself back onto the device, positioning your spine against the grooves. The pressure of your body weight against the device will then help align the spine. The machine weighs under 2 pounds so you can move it between rooms in the home or even take it on holiday for continued daily use.
The Spine-Worx back realignment device is described as a chiropractor for your home because it helps to relieve any pain or irritation quickly. This helps reduce the overall stress on the body and should make you feel better generally. The device is also fully FDA approved so you can use it with confidence that it's all safe.
This is a popular product, and there's a lot of feedback from users. The majority of this is positive, and the reviews indicate people appreciate how simple it can be, and how easy it is to incorporate into daily life. It is worth noting that this is not going to be as effective as other products, and this is not necessarily for those who have severe ongoing back problems.
This is one of the best back realignment devices out there. It's low cost and accessible to everyone but still works well to help with back pain. If you want an easy to use device that can help increase your mobility and flexibility, then this is the one for you.
8. ChiFit Multi-Level
Back Stretcher & Massager
(L x W x H)
15 x 4 x 2.8
Yes, 1 year
Chifit have created a simple home solution to back pain that can be used by anyone. It has a multi-level design which has 3 different gears. This allows you to adjust the device to fit your needs and get a deeper stretch where needed.
The Multi-Level back stretcher features plastic acupressure spikes on the surface. These are designed to impact your circulation and help increase blood flow to the lower back. This helps reduce stress and get rid of tension. It’s been proven to work well for those with pinched nerves, herniated or bulging discs, and those with lumbar back pain. It's also fully portable, weighing less than 1.5 pounds so you can move it around the home or take it with you on journeys.
User feedback indicates that over 85% of users are satisfied with the product. The positive feedback shows that customers are happy with the results, and they seem to be especially pleased with how it can help them relax by providing stress relief.
Some negative reviews have criticized the plastic acupuncture spikes as being uncomfortable. They can be reasonably sharp, so you may need to lay a towel or blanket over the top to give the extra layer of protection. Despite this criticism, this is still a very highly rated product, and the user feedback should give you confidence if you're thinking of buying.
At first glance, this device looks simple, but it has a lot of innovation built into it. ChiFit have taken a standard back stretcher and incorporated some additional features and functionality to make it more effective than competitors. Despite the increased functionality, it's still remarkably easy to use and lightweight, giving you the best of both worlds in one small product.
9. URBNFit Exercise Ball
Back Exercise Ball for Stretching
(L x W x H)
Available in 45cm, 55cm, 65cm, 75cm & 85cm - height
Yes, 1 year
The URBNFit exercise ball is made from high-grade PVC that can deal with even the toughest workout. It has a high grip and non-slip surface so you can use it fully without risking injury.
Unlike other back stretching devices this is much more versatile. There are hundreds of different exercises you can choose to do with it, making it well suited for active people who want to add back stretching into their daily routine.
The URBNFIT exercise ball comes with full guides on how to work out different areas of the body, including how to target the back. It also comes with a quick action pump and two stoppers so you can get started right away. The heavy-duty anti bust PVC can support up to 2000 pounds, making the exercise ball suitable for everyone.
Over 85% of the users of this product seem pleased with the effectiveness of it. Many positive reviews are from those who suffer from ongoing back issues and have used the exercise ball in their rehabilitation to alleviate pain and strengthen muscles. The URBNFIT exercise ball is also much more affordable than other brands while still offering a high level of quality.
Some negative reviews have criticized the size of the exercise balls, but there are 4 or 5 different sizes available, so it's worth exploring the options before purchase. Overall the positive feedback massively outweighs the negative and should give you a high level of confidence in the product.
The URBNFIT exercise ball is a great way to strengthen and stretch your body. It has a variety of different applications, and it's a great piece of equipment to have around the home that will help prevent injury in the long term.
Types of Back Pain Issues
Sciatica is a pain that radiates from your lower back down to your buttocks. It's a relatively common, experienced by those who walk and stand a lot, and sitting down can help relieve the pain.
Lower Back Arthritis
Lower back arthritis is caused by the inflammation of the lowest part of your spine. It’s one of the most common back issues and impacts between 40-85% of adults in the US. Regular stretching from a young age can help prevent effects later in life.
Degeneration of the spine is where the structure or function starts to change. As the discs in the back start to move, it can cause pain across the body. Almost everyone over 45 will feel some level of this, but repeated strain will make this worse.
A bulging disc in your back is where your disc pushes between two vertebrae. This is a normal part of aging, but it can cause intense pain. Generally, this is more common for those with active jobs, and smokers are more likely to be affected by the condition.
Back Pinched Nerves
Pinched nerves in the back are common and occur when there is increased pressure around a nerve in your back. This can be caused by the tissue, bone, or muscle and can impact the upper or lower back, causing discomfort and pain. Pinched nerves are seen in those who perform routine, repetitive tasks, play sports or those who are overweight.
Scoliosis affects around 3% of adolescents. Scoliosis is where the spine becomes curved sideways unevenly. Scoliosis is generally caused by growth spurts in adolescence, and it often runs in the family. It can also be caused by neuromuscular conditions or where the spine has been injured.
What is Spinal Decompression Therapy?
Spinal decompression therapy is one of the preferred techniques for dealing with back pain. It involves gently stretching out your spine using a motorized traction technique. This alleviates the pressure in the spinal discs, which takes the pressure off the nerves and other muscles in the area. It also helps promote the flow of oxygen around the back to encourage the healing process.
Spinal decompression is a relatively new method that is used in all manner of back issues. It's popular because there is minimal risk involved, allowing you to stretch out without worrying about injuring your back further. Generally, it is used for herniated discs or sciatica but has also been shown to alleviate back, shoulder, and neck pain.
Getting into the Habit of Stretching
Regular stretching is extremely beneficial to the whole body, and in the last few years it has taken off massively through yoga and other group activities. Studies have proven that regular stretching of the back helps keep your muscles strong and flexible. This not only gives you the full range of movement but also helps protect you from injury down the line.
There are different exercises for both your upper and lower back. Working in a 5-minute routine to your day will help protect your back and prevent any pain or discomfort. The video below gives a quick guide to get you started:
Back Stretching Tips
You should always read the instructions thoroughly before using a new device. Different back stretching machines do very different things, and you need to be careful that you're using it correctly. Bearing this in mind, it's usually a good idea to build up to using heavy-duty equipment. Exercise balls or straps can be very effective and help prepare your body for the bigger machines.
Before doing any stretching or using any machines, you should warm yourself up. Doing some bodyweight stretches will help you get the most from the machine and help prevent injuries.
The most important tip is to know to stop if it feels wrong. If you feel pain, or there's a change that doesn't seem comfortable, then you should stop. Once you get up and look at the equipment, you'll quickly be able to determine if it's right or wrong and make the necessary adjustments.
Assembling a Back Stretcher
Every back stretching machine is different, and you will need to refer to the manual that will come with your product. Most machines come in 1 or 2 parts that you will need to fit together. Start by folding out your frame, ensuring that it sits comfortably on the floor. There should be rubber ends for the frame to keep the whole machine level.
You should then adjust and tighten the seat, arms, and other extensions from the device. This can typically be done by hand, but you may need a screwdriver. You should ensure everything is tight and won’t slip before you put any weight on the device.
This is a piece of equipment you will regularly be using, and if you don't have it built correctly, you could risk injuring yourself. Make sure you follow the guidelines, and if you're unsure, then you should contact the manufacturer as most brands have contact points to help you with assembly.
Care & Maintenance
By keeping your machine in good condition, you'll get a longer lifespan from it and continue to see the benefits for longer. You'll also protect it from rust or other problems which can stop it from working effectively.
Every back stretching device is slightly different so you should consult the operating manual, which will give a full care and maintenance guide. To clean your back stretching device, you should use a damp cloth to wipe it all down. Take care not to use any bleach or solvents as these could stain or damage the machine.
You should always thoroughly examine the machine before every use. This means checking the straps, handles, and adjustable parts to make sure they are fully fastened in the right way. This won't just protect your machine from damage; it will also stop you from potentially injuring yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often you stretch will be determined by your current capabilities and if you have any back issues. Experts recommend stretching every day, performing 3-5 exercises for between 30 and 60 seconds.
Will stretching improve my exercise performance?
Stretching and strengthening your back has been proven to aid performance. It helps you get a full range of motion and be more flexible. It also helps strengthen your muscles to prevent any injuries.
Is it safe for pregnant women, elderly, or anyone with health issues, etc.?
Stretching for pregnant women, the elderly, or those with other issues is recommended. There are several benefits to your body, and it can even aid in recovery. You should always be aware of your limits and not push your body too far. When using back stretching machines, read the full guidelines beforehand to see if it isn't suitable for specific conditions.
Should I see a chiropractor before using these devices?
Generally, it is a good idea to see your chiropractor before using a back stretching device, particularly if you are experiencing pain. The advice they provide will help give you guidance on what back stretching machine will best fit your needs.
Does inversion method work for back pain?
The inversion method has been linked to managing back pain in the short term by loosening the muscles and providing relief to the spine. It is not suitable for those with high blood pressure or some other health conditions.
If I have uneven hips will stretching with special equipment help my back?
Studies have found that using equipment to stretch your back if you have uneven hips can be very beneficial. It can help stretch out the muscles and lengthen them, relieving the pain and tension felt across the back, shoulders, and hips.
How long before I notice improvement?
In terms of pain relief, it can vary from person to person, but generally, after a few days, you will feel the results. Stretching will aid recovery after sports or activities, and you can often feel the results straight away. If you follow a disciplined daily routine, then you should feel changes happen quickly.
Owning a machine that stretches your back can pay dividends in the long run. They can help relieve pain and build resilience in your body to give you a full range of motion as you age. All the machines on the list are useful, but the IRONMAN Gravity Inversion Table is one of the best around. It will help you stretch safely and effectively, helping you get more from your body day-to-day.
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