History of Inversion Therapy

Inversion for therapeutic purposes is positioning the body with the heart higher than the head. The history of Inversion therapy as a restorative healing method, has been around for thousands of years.

Yoga includes inversion with poses such as handstands, Legs-up-the-Wall and shoulder stands.

As early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates developed the first known gravity boots.

Norwegian military troops, far back in history, are reported to have used inversion as a rejuvenation tactic. The soldiers were known to lie on hillsides with feet on the upside to re-energize & prepare for battle.

Throughout history, leveraging the healing powers of gravity has been used in various cultures around the world as a natural remedy to reduce back pain and improve circulation—vein circulation, lymphatics, and lung function. A core element of ancient healing traditions is circulation and improving, moving the flow of circulation.

Postural drainage (along with chest physiotherapy like tapotement) is used with pneumonia or cystic fibrosis patients by respiratory therapists. 

Various products have been developed over the years to enable people to rest in a comfortable reclined position. Many that use gentle-inversion, also known as low angle inversion and others that are full, upside down inversion. 

Your grandparents may be familiar with gentle-inversion as they used to be more widely known. They were called incline boards, or “slant boards” in years past. 

The first recorded product patent was in 1902 and in 1946, inventor May MacGregor filed for a patent for her “Rest and Exercise Board” invention. We're looking into her story and it'll be fun to share it as we discover more about this woman inventor. 

Female inventor May MacGregor and her patent drawings for an incliner (gentle-inversion board)

From the early 1940s, a variety of people promoted gentle inversion board, incline board, and inversion bench type products. 

Dr. Bernard Jensen, a pioneer in alternative medicine, dedicated much of his life from around the 1940s to the 1980s promoting slant board use with his patients to help improve their health and wellness, and wrote a book titled Slanting Board, A New Slant on Health and Beauty. He incorporated them into his wellness workshops held at the Hidden Valley Ranch in Escondido CA.

Vintage Slantboard, Bernard Jensen book
Hollywood actors, “starlets” as they were called in the 1950s and 1960s popularized slant boards and touted them as a beauty and "anti-aging" secret. Olivia De Havilland, Ginger Rogers, and Jennifer Jones are known to have used them for an energy boost and to freshen up the face before sets.

In 1965 Dallas, Texas, the trendsetting Greenhouse Spa, co-conceived by Neiman Marcus' brother was built to attract luxury shoppers into town (and to the store), and had a room of incliners ("slant boards") to help rejuvenate their guests. See slide #7 from this NYT article.

There is a scene in the 1973 movie The Last of Sheila with James Mason and Raquel Welch where, in a brief scene, you can see one being brought aboard a yacht and being set up for one of the actor’s use. 

Slant boards were sold in the Sears and Roebuck catalog and the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog and manufactured by several different companies, such as the Healthways Equipment Company.

Vintage Slant Board

In the 1980s they began to lose popularity with the emergence of gravity boot contraptions and later, full inversion A-frame tables where one tips upside down. An interesting reflection of the times as people were drawn to a more immediate sense of gratification.

The Richard Gere scene in the American Gigolo movie perhaps flipped attention in this direction.

By the 1990s, slant boards faded out of production and out of people's awareness.

We believe that gentle-inversion is still an effective healing remedy and worthy of a reintroduction. Whether known as slant boards, low angle inversion boards, therapeutic back benches, zero gravity table, or an Incliner, this product is a useful tool that when used routinely, is powerfully therapeutic.

Our mission at InclineRx is to bring ease to the caring of this one body we've been given.

We've created Lull as a modernized, reimagined furniture piece that works with your home environment—as something elegant and simple, that fits naturally in your home and is integral to the way you live.