The Bottom Line
The Spinal Stretch sounded like a great idea when I heard about it. Who among us with tight back muscles wouldn't want to feel a nice stretching action at the lumbar spine? But when I got the product and attempted to use it, things went awry. Not only was the product difficult to hook up, but it simply didn't work!
- Sounds like a great idea.
- Pretty graphics.
- It doesn't work.
- Most of what you hear about spinal decompression therapy is marketing hype.
- Few research studies have been done on decompression, so we don't know if it's effective or not.
- Product is available for purchase online only.
- Manufactured and distributed by Welcom Relief, Inc.
- Guaranteed to be free of defects for one year from date of purchase.
Guide Review - Spinal Stretch
The Spinal Stretch is meant to be a home spinal decompression unit. Decompression is a form of traction. Currently, this controversial treatment is being marketed and used mainly by chiropractors. Since the machines can cost up to $100,000, a chiropractor's decision to purchase one for her practice is significant, indeed. But does it work? One small but well-designed review from 2007 found that the amount of marketing of spinal decompression treatments in chiropractors' offices is far greater than the proven value of the treatment. More studies are needed to understand the role and effectiveness of spinal decompression.
The Spinal Stretch product I reviewed comes with the device, a little booklet and a DVD. The DVD would not play in my PC, so that left me with just the eight-page booklet and the website to guide me through putting the thing together.
The website and booklet are beautifully designed and glossy. The website is a well-presented, well-organized sales brochure. The booklet (which you can also download from the site) has a step-by-step guide for assembling the contraption. However, some of the pictures were confusing. In short, I couldn't figure out which part of the machine I was supposed to be working with for that step in the assembly. I had to try it a couple of times before I got it.
Next, it was time to try out the Spinal Stretch. Like the assembly experience, I needed to go over the instructions several times. (I tried it about 5 times.) But this time it was because I could not get the stretching action to happen. I was able to get the strap into the door jamb. I followed the instructions for the putting on the belt and ratcheting the handle, but try as I might, the thing never stretched my back. It provided no pulling action.
I never did get the Spinal Stretch to work, so I can't really tell you about how it felt on my back.
What I can tell you that there are a number of ways to approximate the same stretching effect without using any machine. As a matter of fact, there are enough possibilities to accommodate a fairly wide range of abilities. For example, the yoga pose happy baby may do that. Also, there are some Pilates and pre-Pilates moves such as rolling like a ball, open leg rocker and seal where you lift your pelvis in the air, which may well result in lengthened back muscles. (And don't forget massage and other holistic therapies.) Even some generic abdominal exercises will have you lift your pelvis in the air, which, in theory at least, stretches the low back muscles.
If you decide to try the Spinal Stretch, be forewarned that you'll need the ability to get up and down off the floor, unless you have a hard bed or other surface to lie on that's close to a door jamb. Also, the website says you should not use the product if you have or have had any of the following: Severe osteoporosis, spine surgery with hardware, spinal fracture, abdominal aneurysm or aortic aneurysm repair, cancer or tumors of the spine, infection in the spine, disc surgery less than six months ago, severe stenosis, acute trauma to your spine, or if you're pregnant, younger than age 15 or if you can't lie flat.
Dwain M Daniel. Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy: does the scientific literature support efficacy claims made in the advertising media? Chiropr Osteopat. 2007; 15: 7. Published online 2007 May 18. doi: 10.1186/1746-1340-15-7.