The Total Back System: Is It Really a Total Back Solution?

A woman hangs upside down using the total back system.

You’ve been looking at inversion tables, or maybe using one for some time. You come across the term “Total Back System.” That sounds good, you might think. But what does it mean?

Is it a back stretcher, too? Or perhaps a different sort of inversion machine? Can it also act as a spinal decompression table? And how is it different from a regular inversion table?

Well, strap in. We’re about to answer those questions and more. Here is everything you need to know about the Total Back System.

What Is a Total Back System?

A woman uses the Totalm Back System to ease spinal pain.

Image via Amazon

A Total Back System is not an inversion table. What is it, then? Well, it’s a piece of equipment that stretches your back in a different way, using different postures. In addition, it’s a strengthening tool that can help with core strength and fitness. If you’ve been to a gym lately, this particular piece of equipment may look familiar. Fitness enthusiasts have known about the benefits of core strength and flexibility for some time. A Total Back System is actually closer to an exercise bench than to an inversion table. There are different variations on the theme, though, so if you’re considering buying one, it pays to do your research to find which features may work best for you.

An inversion machine

Is a Total Back System an inversion machine? Yes. You can use it for inversion. But it’s a different kind of inversion. People who suffer from joint pain, especially in the ankles, may find an inversion table painful. When you practice inversion with a Total Back System, you can reap all the benefits of using a spinal decompression table without putting pressure on your ankles.

The ultimate back stretcher

Can it work as a back stretcher? You bet! A Total Back System allows you to stretch and decompress your spine in a number of different postures. In addition, it can help you to increase strength, flexibility, and circulation.

How Does It Differ From a Regular Inversion Table?

A man uses the Total Back System to relieve spinal pain through inversion.

Image via Meyer PT

In a lot of ways! A Total Back System is put together differently, for one thing. Second, it allows stretching and decompressing from multiple postures instead of just one. Finally, unlike an inversion table, you can also use it to build core strength and flexibility.

It’s not a spinal decompression table

A Total Back System is not a spinal decompression table. Although spinal decompression is definitely one of the benefits, there is no table. Rather, it’s a padded bench that allows you to suspend your weight from the hips, rather than from the ankles. Some TBS systems are adjustable, so you can do this from different angles and positions.

It’s not an inversion chair

An inversion chair is similar to an inversion table. It’s a structured piece of equipment that facilitates spinal decompression through inversion. An inversion chair keeps the body in a seated position, rather than a lying position during inversion. Some people find an inversion chair more comfortable than an inversion table, especially if they have painful joint or ankle problems.

Hyperextension

The table part of an inversion table supports the back by keeping it straight during inversion. However, if you want a piece equipment that allows hyperextension, then an inversion table isn’t the right tool. What you need is a TBS system.

Hyperextension means bending backward, like a backbend. Hyperextension exercises train and strengthen your back muscles, and increase flexibility. This, in turn, gives your back additional support, which can help with, or ward off back pain. This video shows the proper form for a basic hyperextension exercise using a hyperextension bench.

Bent knee inversion

With some Total Back System units, decompression begins at the hips. With others, you hang from the knees. Some TBS units allow you to try out different positions.

Bent knee inversion means that you bend forward while holding onto a padded bar with your knees. It’s a highly effective back stretcher that won’t stress your ankles.

Core strengthening

Another benefit of a Total Back System is that it allows you to build your core strength through targeted exercises. All units will allow you to work your lower back. Some may also allow you to work your abdominal muscles and those difficult to train obliques. The obliques are the muscles on the sides of your torso. So, you see, a Total Back System is not only for relaxing and decompressing the spine. You can use it to strengthen and train your core as well.

Some Total Back System Exercises

The following video will give you an idea of some ways you can use a Total Back System. This video demonstrates Yukon Fitness’s Total Back System unit.

For Back Strengthening and Flexibility

Bodybuilding.com has specific instructions for beginner hyperextension exercises to strengthen your back. In addition, these instructions are available with specific variations for men and women. Also, check out this video from trainer Michelle Trapp.

For Abdominal Strengthening and Flexibility

Many trainers recommend building strength in certain muscle groups, for instance, the back, by training opposite muscle groups, like the abdominals. You can use a Total Back System unit to train your abdominals and obliques as well as the muscles of your lower back. A strong core means that your back will be well supported. This can help to ease back pain or prevent back pain from developing in the first place.

This video can give you some ideas about how a hyperextension bench might be used for abdominal strengthening exercises.

The Best Total Back System Products

If you’re looking for a Total Back System, there are numerous models available. Only two use the name “Total Back System.” One is made by Yukon, and the other by Motion Fitness. You can find similar products sold as hyperextension benches. Prices range from around $350 for the Yukon Total Back System to around $50 for a low-end generic bench. Before you buy, think carefully about your particular needs. Also, consult with your medical professional to see if inversion therapy, spinal decompression, and hyperextension exercises, in particular, will benefit you. Then, consider the following.

Stability

This is one of the most important features to look for. It’s also one of the features that cheap units might not provide. The last thing you want is a bench that will not sit still where you place it. You certainly don’t want it to wobble while you’re in an indelicate position. An unstable unit is an unsafe unit. In general, a wider (longer) footprint, that is, a greater space between the front and back legs means a more stable construction. Look for stability features like long feet or a bar that connects the front and back legs.

Versatility

Is the unit you’re considering adjustable for different heights? How about for different angles? Does it support inversion, as well as hyperextension? Can you hang from the pelvis as well as the knees? Can you exercise different muscle groups? Do you want to? Different models of the Total Back System will allow different variations. So be sure to know your needs, and do your research.

Quality and durability

A low price tag might look appealing, but make sure you’re not getting cheated out of basic quality. Like all fitness equipment, a TBS unit needs to be made from high-quality materials. In addition, it needs to be able to hold your weight. And it also needs to stand up to repeated use. Does the unit you’re considering come with a warranty or guarantee? Does it look like it will be easy to return it if necessary? What have other people thought, who have bought it? Read the reviews, and make sure you’re purchasing not only the right TBS for you but one that will stand up to the kind of use you’re expecting.

Is a Total Back System for You?

Only you can decide that, preferably with advice from a trainer or medical professional. But if you’re looking for a versatile piece of equipment that can stretch, decompress, and strengthen, then a TBS may be the equipment for you.

 

Featured Image: Via screenshot from the featured video by Yukon Fitness.

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