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on May 20, 2010
This item looked interesting so I thought I'd give it a try. It arrived in just a few days, and I pulled it out of the box along with the one-page instruction sheet. The instructions aren't too extensive, but give you a general idea of what to do. In a nutshell, you lay on it. :)

So I put it on the floor and laid on it like in the picture. It really didn't look like it would do much, I guess because the arch didn't seem that high- but boy was I wrong- this thing really stretches your back! In fact its downright deceiving how much of a stretch one actually gets.

But that's not the end of the story. I, like others, found several things out right away. First, you'll need a pillow to support your head. I don't know how the lady in the picture is able to tolerate that position- maybe its one of those CPR dolls you practice on? Without a pillow, your head tilts back and can make you a little dizzy. A therapist told me that this is because your vertebral arteries (which help get blood to your head) "thread" through your neck vertebrae, and in some people, when you tilt your head back too much/too long, they can get pinched somewhat which can decrease the flow of blood to your head and make you a little dizzy- so just be careful and grab a pillow before you lay down.

The other thing I found out is that you have to "play around" with the positioning. For some people who are really tight, they'll just lay down and hit it right the first time- but this won't be everybody. Expect to spend a few minutes tinkering around with it (by sliding it up and down which is easy to do) to find your sweet spot- that being where its most comfortable/where you feel the best stretch. Those who just throw the thing on the floor and just lay on it expecting miracles to happen might be a little disappointed with the product.

The back popping thing. A therapist also told me that this happens when the tiny joints in your back seperate a little- same as when you pop your knuckle. This is a good thing because the "pop" usually brings pain relief for a lot of people. And since the pop means that the joint has seperated a bit, that stretches the joint capsule (the tissue around the joint) and that means you're actually loosening things up as well. Probably the best way to get the pop is to bring your knees up towards your chest as you're laying on the extender, OR you can try laying on it, and get your feet/knees into the position like you're going to do a sit up, and then roll your knees together either to the left or right down to the floor. In any event, don't force anything, and some people's back are simply harder to pop than others depending on how/where they're tight. Either way you're still stretching out your back. And don't forget you can also lay on the extender ON YOUR SIDE too.

A sturdy piece of equipment, and professionally upholstered in my opinion, Arched Back Lumbar Stretcher Extender, Model# 83-4866V should benefit many if used properly. One note though. The extender will stretch, relax your back, and make it more flexible- but it won't do anything to strengthen it. For that, suggest Treat Your Own Spinal Stenosis for some good back exercises.
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on August 3, 2008
Bought this product a few days ago from this company through Amazon. Delivery was quick, and price is great. There are a couple others I saw on Amazon that look similar, but appear to be constructed of bare metal, and are over three times the price of this one. This one's shape is similar, and it is padded and professionally upholstered. For 20 bucks, I figured I'd try it. The instructions are a little vague, you're supposed to lay on your back, with this device under your back, and stretch out with your hands over your head, yet it does not say what to do with your legs. (There is a picture that shows a woman with her legs outstretched as well) however, I found it fairly uncomfortable to have legs outstretched, almost seemed that legs should be bent at the knees slightly. Just lying and stretching out didn't seem to help me at all and at first, I was disappointed. (I had a dull pain on the lower right side of my back, which I often get, and after this first use, found no change in my back. This was early morning. An hour or so later, I decided to try it again. This time, I laid with the arch under my back and positioned the arch so that the pain in my back was in contact with where I felt the most comfortable pressure from the device. (You simply slide the device forward or backward to achieve this). Then, with a pillow positioned under my head, I stretched out like before (hands over head, but this time, after stretching out, I bent my knees, brought them up together towards my chest(like in a sitting position, except I was laying on my back on the floor), and then slowly lowered my legs and extended them out, and CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!, I could just feel the pops and cracks going down my spine. Repeated this a couple times, and then I got up. The dull lower back pain was gone and stayed gone rest of the day. Later in the evening, after some yard work, pain reoccurred, so I used it again and repeated the process, and again with the cracks and pops, and it felt great once again. Amazing to me. I do go to a chiropractor, and I love the results I get there, but it's expensive, and this seems to be great for in-between treatments, or hopefully to increase time between treatments.
Either way, it's great to have something around the house to relieve the pain whenever I need it. Super deal, for the money, I highly recommend it.
My experience so far has been only positive. I wrote such a lengthy review to detail the procedure I discovered that helped me, in the hopes that if others who purchase this product don't see results from simply stretching out like in the instructions, they might benefit from the method I described above. It helped me, I hope it helps you too. Good luck.
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10/02/2013 Update: To my shock, my new primary care physician (who began as an Osteopath) met with me to day and spent 55 minutes with me....I STILL think I must have been in some kind of time shift since at my age i never saw ANY doctor spend that kind of time with me. Not even the ones who made a couple HUNDRED thousand bucks off of me...To my utter astonishment, he says an inversion table will be fine for me, even after my prior 2 spinal fusions. More funny (to me) was his admission that he has had one for over 20 years and would never live WITHOUT one. His only criteria for me was to keep it simple, 20-40 degrees and just don't get stupid. I mentioned to him that I had bought the device reviewed here. He told me he was aware of it and it was PERFECT for me and it will give me probably 50-75% of the benefit of inversion with NONE of the risk or cost.So I will probably order my inversion table but I have to tell you, this has made me feel so good i AM going to hold off just a bit to see if I really even want the hassle and expense of a big old rack in the house...
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Original Review below:

Thanks to War, old age (about to turn 65), a good & fun hard life of big wave surfing, motorcycle riding, racing in dirt and on track, PLUS drag racing....I have crashed and burned so many times, in so many ways I found myself nearly a quadriplegic 6 years ago. Scripps had to actually call in and hired a brilliant neurosurgeon to save me from that fate. I couldn't even raise either arm, was not able to walk but sort of shuffle with a walker. I was in pain I cannot even begin to describe. Sold my kayaks, surfboards, motorcycles etc, I was DONE....

Fast forward to now. I actually returned to motorcycling but have again quit due to risk of again breaking my neck. Trust me, being a quad was a lesson I do not EVER wish to repeat. But gradually the spinal stenosis has become horrible. The 2 surgeries were cervical c5 to c6 with a cage, plates and screws, lumbar was L3 to l4 with same cage etc. This of course led to my good old L5/S1 causing nerve impingement and numbness down front of my left leg & foot that is MADDENING! Nobody does more than 2 fusions I am told so I have what I have and have to deal with it. I refuse narcotics, don't want to be stoned all day & night. Began Chiropractic help and to my amazement it has helped dramatically. But I can't afford every week bills so began looking at home treatments I can do myself. I wanted (and still do want) an inversion table even though I HATE being upside down. Not one of ANY of the 4 doctors I have asked will give me an answer as to if it is safe for me to use one! Wimps are afraid of liability I suppose. NEVER afraid to risk my damned life cutting me open and taking $100K in medical payment though....(me bitter?)

So while I wait till next week to ask a fifth doctor who will never answer me either, I bought this little device. I swear to you it gently cracks both my neck AND back actually BETTER than my osteopath. No exaggeration, no BS, it works. But I have found that for ME, I seem to get more cracks & pops if I use it on my bed, and have a pillow under my head. I slowly take my arms from my sides and move them up and over my head in an ultra slow motion reach for the ceiling move and sounds like a machine gun going of from my neck to my tailbone....

At this point (just 3 days worth of use) I am unsure how it will turn out long term. But I PROMISE I will update with time and results as they happen because this is SO important to me and my life with disabilities.....There is no price I wouldn't pay for help, no thing I am afraid to try. I wrote all this for such a seemingly cheap & trivial product because it IS so important for me to fine relief. And as it turns out, because of how well this DOES work for me so far. And more importantly, I have read THOUSANDS of reviews for inversion tables and devices galore. But have not found one single review of one from someone who has had one not to mention TWO spinal surgeries..... That makes it scary to take a chance when there are such high risks for me. I want people like me, (if there ARE any people as beat up as me?) to at least know I have found something that is at least so far, helping me.

As of this review, I am more than in a state of shock that something so cheap & simple has done more fro me than the thousands we have wasted on doctors, drugs and empty promises from so many sources. If I could rate this higher I would. I have bought literally thousands of dollars in exercise equipment (that I ended up having to sell), physical therapy that was useless to be honest, heating pads, gadgets & gizmos.

Then along comes a silly looking thing like this and I am kissing it more than I kiss my wife. Kind of a WIN WIN all around :-)
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on December 1, 2011
My chiropractor recommended I purchase this product due to the curvature of the spine as you age. It was slightly painful as I started using it but helped lower back pain with continuous use and helped me be conscious of my posture when sitting for long periods of time.
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on March 6, 2009
Arched Back Lumbar Stretcher Extender, Model# 83-4866V

I have many dessicated (dried up) disks and quite a few herniated disks in my back, so I fight with pain all the time and see the chiropractor frequently.

I first saw a similar unit on a TV infomercial, but it was pricey. So I found this. At that time there were no reviews on this unit, but there were reviews on similar ones. I bought this one because it has the padding and I'm glad I bought it instead of the others without padding. It is light weight, portable, and esy to handle.

I have wiggled on this, turned it both directions, pulled my knees up (one at a time and both together), slid it up high and down low, put my hands above my head and down at my sides, bent my knees with feet flat on the floor, and stretched my legs out straight. I've also laid on my sides with it. I'm sorry to report that it didn't ever cause my back to crack or pop.

If I want my low back to pop, I sit on the floor with my right leg straight. I cross my left foot over my right knee and place it flat on the floor with my left knee bent and pointing toward the ceiling. Then I rotate my trunk to put my right shoulder/elbow on the left side of my left knee, and turn toward behind me with one hand braced on the floor and stretch. Then reverse. That will often cause my bones to pop.

This stretcher relieves my pain. I usually do stretching exercises first. Then I lay with the high point under my shoulder blades first, then under my low back second. The best part for me is when I hurt, any time of night or day I can get relief right away in just minutes without needing anyone else's help. I often lie on the stretcher first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I usually use it on the living room rug, but I've also used it both on the couch and the bed, so if you can't get on and off the floor easily you can still try this.

The tricky part for me is getting my muscles to let go and relax, and stay relaxed, so I concentrate on that. When you relax it puts your back into a mild traction.

When you are finished laying on this, roll to your side off it and then get up. If you try to sit straight up you may strain your back.

This unit is very flexible and I think if you experiment with it, you will most likely find a way to get some immediate pain relief. My son tried mine out and liked it so much he said he wanted one, so I got him one for his birthday and he was delighted. A friend of mine also tried mine out and liked it, and he's had back surgery.

If I lost mine would I buy another? You bet! I deffinitely recommend it. It's a simple but brilliant idea.
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on January 28, 2011
I don't use this every day. I use it when my back starts to hurt. After I use it, my back usually will ache for a short period of time and then it feels better for days. Do not use it for more than 2 to 3 minutes at a time. Read the instructions.
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on November 19, 2011
After a day in front of the computer and its attendant lousy posture, a few minutes with this product and my back slips back into its natural alignment and the muscles start to relax. I just wish I'd bought one 20 years ago!
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on May 27, 2011
I've used the whole stack-of-three-pillows-under-the-back approach for years but when I saw this on sale for so cheap I decided to go for it. My first impressions are very positive. It feels solid and the cushioning is perfect. It really stretches your back out and is pretty comfortable. It does seem to pop quite a bit when using, which makes you believe you're breaking it, but when I inspect it there is nothing wrong with it.

The only thing I'll warn is DO NOT FALL ASLEEP when using. I fell asleep with it under me for a few hours and when I woke up my back was in SERIOUS PAIN. It hurt the whole next 24 hours. I asked my doctor about it, and he said that while laying like that for that amount of time was great for my spine, it makes your muscles cramp up like crazy. Which I was very happy to hear, because at first I thought I did something to my spine.

All in all I'd recommend this product to someone else. It's great to stretch your spine and relieve pressure but don't use it as a doctor replacement. If your back is really hurting you, you should first go see your doctor.
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on September 29, 2011
Let me start by saying I'm just under 5'2" and weigh around 140 lbs. I've had neck and back issues for 30+ years. I've injured my back a few times in car accidents, a water skiing accident, and had many falls off my horse, snow skiing, in gymnastics as a young girl, as a cheerleader, and other sports, etc.. As time went on, I would occasionally throw my low back out, which would also throw out my neck and hips. Then I would be out of commission for a week or more recovering.

Sitting a lot during the day at my desk is not good for me either, but I have work to do and research to read. So, to counteract the forward leaning of my head, the rounding of my back backwards, and slumping my shoulders forwards, I lay on this for a few minutes, twice a day.

Initially, I wasn't thinking it would do much to relieve my aches and stiffness, but to my great surprise, and considerable relief, it has done wonders for me. More so than massage and chiropractic have done over the past years.

I will warn you, you have to work up to staying on it. At first I was only able to be on it for 10 seconds at a time. Now, I'm up to a few minutes. That's all I seem to need to feel much, much better.

Update:
I've now had this padded stretcher for relaxing my back and neck for a few months. I had this terrible pain in my neck and shoulder that just wouldn't go away, even after many trips to the chiropractor and massage therapists. With daily use of this thing, I found my neck relaxing and my back and shoulder too. I adjust my position on it up and downwards so I get my whole back relaxed and my hips too. I also use a small air pillow (bought at Target) for my neck. Not everyone will need this, but I do.
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on July 20, 2014
I am in my mid-60's, and tend to have difficulty standing up straight after I've been sitting for awhile. When I wake up in the morning, I'm a little stiff. I bought this to stretch my back. I first tried using it right in bed, as one other reviewer suggested, and that didn't do anything for my back. However, now I use it on the floor, and I really like it! I use a throw rug under the stretcher, so it doesn't leave marks in the carpet. I use the thicker part at my lower back, and the thinner part up by my shoulders, but there is no indication of how you're really supposed to do it. When I first lay back on it, I'm curled up, and it takes a couple of minutes before I can lay back over it. Then I am able to put my hands behind my head. I start with my knees bent. After I am stretched into this position, I do some partial sit-ups, and then do some hip lifts. Then I relax and lay my legs down straight. Then I lean to one side and use my elbow to assist me in sitting up. Then I reach down and hold my ankles to stretch in the opposite direction. Then when I stand up my back feels great. It is cushioned, so it feels good on my back; I can't imagine how hard the bare wood back stretchers would feel. This is a light and sturdy device, easy to store, easy to use, and it makes a difference in how my back feels for hours.
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