How Long Can You Hang Upside Down?

When you are upside down, the blood rushes to your head and makes you dizzy. This dizziness causes us to naturally want to tun upright again. But what if you remain in an upside-down position? How long can you hang upside down?

An average, healthy person will be able to hang upside down for a few seconds to a few minutes before they feel overly dizzy and nauseous. Through gradual practice, one could hang upside for longer without feeling too nauseous.

How long can you hang upside down before you die? For an average, healthy, untrained person, they should be able to hang upside down for one or two days before dying. The buildup of blood and liquid in the upper half of your body would cause asphyxiation (loss of breath). Organs that have been inverted for too long will also stop functioning.

There are rare cases when people die because of prolonged periods of hanging upside down. A reported case of a person in Utah died after being stuck upside down in a cave for 28 hours. The cause of death was reported as asphyxiation. 

Hanging upside down is unnatural and would cause health problems after a long period of time. That’s why humans sit or stand upright and lie down horizontally to allow the body organs to stay in their proper places. When you hang upside down, the pressure will displace your body organs unnaturally.

Body inversion is a treatment that has grown in popularity. It relieves pressure on the spine. It is usually done in sets of 1 to 3 minutes.

Read on to learn more about how long you can hang upside down before any serious side effects or death.

How Long Can You Hang Upside Down?

You should be able to hang upside down for about 10 seconds to 1 minute before feeling overly dizzy and nauseous. You could hang upside for longer with gradual practice. It would likely take several hours or a day or two before you die from hanging upside down.

Anything that doesn’t occur naturally would disrupt the organized course of things. To hang upside down is unnatural for the body; so, this would undoubtedly cause problems.

But does it cause death? To answer the question, first, we have to know what happens to the body during inversion.   

how long can you hang upside down before you die

What Happens to the Body When You’re Upside Down?

When you’re upside down, blood will start to pool in your head and the upper portions of your body. The function of your heart is to pump blood into your different organs to nourish the cells.

The pressure exerted by the blood that courses through your arteries is just enough to allow its smooth flow into your legs and feet when you’re standing upright.

However, when you’re upside down in a vertical position, with your head hanging and your feet up in the air, the heart’s function would be affected. 

Some experts claim that the heart works lesser when a person is inverted, as the heart doesn’t have to pump harder to let blood go into the brain. This lowers the blood pressure reportedly. But there are no intensive and extensive empirical data to support his claim. 

Here are some things that happen inside your body when you hang yourself upside down:

  • The heart could pump harder to get the blood into your feet and lower extremities based on science. This action would increase your heart’s pumping causing your blood pressure to rise;
  • An increase in blood pressure will make you hypertensive, which in turn will cause Cerebrovascular Attacks (CVA) or strokes–when a blood vessel ruptures or clogs because of too much pressure.
  • Your upper fragile internal organs could also get compressed by the heavier lower organs.

Of course, there are predisposing factors, such as age, hyperlipidemia (high lipid or fat content in the blood arteries), and atherosclerosis, before you could suffer a stroke. But you cannot discount this possibility; and

Since the lungs are fragile, it may be affected by pressure from the liver, kidneys, and intestines. The compression may crush the heart as well. Blood would rush to your eyes as well that may cause them to redden. No one can truly predict what would happen when you’re hanging upside down for long periods.

Take note, though, that these occurrences could happen only during prolonged and continuous inversion. So, if you have hypertension, lung disease, heart disease, or other serious illnesses, it’s best to avoid performing body-inversions. 

How long can you stay upside down? If you’re healthy and you hang upside down for a few minutes, let’s say 30 seconds to one minute, you may feel a little dizzy or uncomfortable, but you won’t die. 

Researchers have yet to conduct intensive studies about the effects of hanging upside down to establish essential data.

Body Inversion as Treatment

Inversion therapy is reportedly one of the treatments for poor circulation, scoliosis, chronic lower back pain, and sciatica. However, a licensed physical therapist or doctor should conduct the treatment. The therapist uses an adequately-equipped inversion table and correctly positions your whole body in an inverted but horizontal manner. 

The inversion time is also only 30 seconds to one minute for the first few times, and then it can extend to five minutes or so, upon the recommendation of the doctor or supervising therapist. 

During therapy, the inverted position is different; however, from the vertical position of hanging upside down with your feet up while your head is hanging. In inversion therapy, both the head feet are in a horizontal position and strapped to the table before the body is turned downward.

Some studies showed that inversion therapy allows the pinched sciatic nerves to decompress. Thus pain is relieved. Nevertheless, scientists have to conduct more extensive studies to prove that inversion therapy is indeed effective.

Body Inversion and Yoga

Yoga also employs body Inversions while meditating. According to yogis, they perform headstands, forearm stands, handstands, shoulder stands, and other body inversions for 5 to 10 breaths to clear their minds, allow the fountain of youth to flow, and give their hearts a rest. 

They believe that doing body inversions within an appropriate time would improve circulation, develop core strength, and stimulate the lymphatic system. What more, they claim that it can boost your self-confidence. Therefore, they recommend body inversions within a limited time to truly benefit from it.

how long can you hang upside down

When you hang upside down for a few minutes, you don’t die. You can get dizzy, your eyes may bulge, or your blood pressure may rise, but no one died within a few minutes of hanging upside down. 

Nevertheless, there are rare reports of people becoming unconscious and dying due to hanging upside down for several hours. But these are rare, and it’s not precisely pointed out if they died because of the direct effect of hanging upside down. 

People with hypertension, heart diseases, and respiratory illnesses have an increased risk of having health problems after hanging upside down for long periods. So, if you have these health issues, you should not attempt to perform upside-down positions. 

How long can you be upside down? You should be able to hang upside down for 1-3 minutes before feeling overly dizzy and nauseous. You could hang upside for longer with gradual practice.

How long can you survive upside down? How long can you hang upside down before dying? It would likely take several hours or a day or two before you die from hanging upside down. The buildup of blood and in the upper half of your body would cause asphyxiation (loss of breath). Organs that have been inverted for too long will also stop functioning.

How Long Can You Safely Hang Upside Down? 

Now you know that there’s a safe way to hang upside down. You have to do it properly and within short periods only. First-timers have to learn the proper position and then do it for only 30 seconds to one minute. 

If you feel uncomfortable or sick within that time, you can stop it without waiting for the time to expire. The clue is to do it only when you don’t feel sick. You will defeat the benefits of body inversion if you get sick in the process.

Expert yogis can hold their inverted positions for 5 to 12 minutes; however, they have had enough practice to last that long. Don’t attempt to do body inversions without consulting your doctor and without proper instructions.

As I previously said, people with underlying illnesses can die when doing body inversions. So, if you’re not sure if you have a hidden disease, consult your doctor first and ask permission to do it.

Benefits and Risks of Hanging Upside Down

Let’s summarize the benefits and risks of hanging upside down. Evaluate these results and decide what to do.

Here are the benefits of hanging upside down within the prescribed time:

1. Alleviates Lower Back Pain

The upper body’s pressure exerted on the lower back is eased off, so lower back pain is alleviated. This is most applicable in sciatic nerve compressions, as mentioned below.

2. Releases Compressed Sciatic Nerves

When the body is upside down, this releases the compressed sciatic nerves in the lower back. Thus, pain is relieved. The sciatic nerves are nerves found at the rib cage’s base, which can become pinched or compressed by surrounding tissues. This can cause considerable pain when untreated.

3. Improves Circulation

Inversions improve circulation in the head as the heart need not pump blood to go to the brain. When in a normal position, the heart has to pump blood into the brain. 

4. Restores Balance

Reportedly, inversions restore the body’s equilibrium and enhance the youthful aspects of the body. Researchers have to conduct more intensive studies on this topic, though. 

5. Enhances Function of Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system’s function is enhanced as body inversions release the pressure exerted on the lymphatic system.

Hanging upside down for 30 seconds to two minutes doesn’t cause any significant adverse effect. Here are the risks of hanging upside down within prescribed time:

1. Syncope May Occur

You may lose consciousness or faint when inverted within the prescribed time. This is rare, though. Only those who are extremely sensitive are prone to syncope. But when hanging upside down longer than the specified time, the risk of syncope increases as well.

2. May Cause Minor Conditions

Minor conditions, such as dizziness, headache, and heavy eyes, may occur. But these would disappear as soon as you assume an upright position.

3. May Worsen Existing Illnesses

If you have an underlying disease such as hypertension and other metabolic disorders, these may worsen. It’s a distant possibility, but there’s a chance it can occur.

Tips on Hanging Upside down Without Getting Killed

1. Hanging Upside Down for Long Periods May Kill You

Healthy people could survive, but people with illnesses may get killed when they hang upside down for several hours. I have explained this in the subtopic above.

2. If You Want to Benefit from Inversion Therapy Consult a Licensed Therapist

Inversion therapy is beneficial if you do it properly. However, if you feel sick doing it, don’t force yourself. The treatment is, nor for everyone. There are other methods to obtain the same health benefits – of inversion therapy is not for you.

3. Hanging Upside Down for a Few Minutes Can Be Beneficial

Yogis and persons treated with inversion therapy claimed that hanging upside down has its own health benefits. Nonetheless, the procedure should be conducted by a certified yogi and physical therapist. Some studies have proven the truth of these claims.  

4. Stop If You Feel Unwell during the Process

If you feel sick even before you start or during the process, stop. No one is forcing you to do it. Only do inversions if they make you feel well. 

5. Always Do Inversions Under an Expert’s Guidance

Perform inversions only when a licensed Yogi teacher or a physical therapist, or doctor is around. Their guidance would ensure that you’re not endangering yourself in any way.

Conclusion – How Long Can You Hang Upside Down?

The average person can hang upside down for a few seconds to a few minutes before they feel overly dizzy and nauseous. Through gradual practice, you could hang upside for longer without feeling too nauseous.

How long can you hang upside down before you die? It would likely take 1 or 2 days of hanging upside down before dying. The buildup of blood and liquid in the upper half of your body would cause asphyxiation (loss of breath). Organs that have been inverted for too long will also stop functioning.

There are no reports of someone dying because of a few minutes of hanging upside down. There are rare cases in which a person in Utah died because he was stuck upside down in a cave for 28 hours. But this is rare. 

So you can hang upside down safely for a few seconds or minutes. When you feel dizzy and uncomfortable, stop and resume your normal upright position.

There are benefits to hanging upside down, but you should consult your doctor first before attempting to do this unnatural position. Your health should always be your priority.