Overdoor traction refers to a practice of placing oneself in traction using an apparatus that hooks over the top of a door. Traction is the practice of allowing the spine to stretch out, thereby relieving pressure on the spine and the muscles surrounding it. Many people turn to overdoor traction to relieve chronic back pain, though it must be done correctly in order to maintain safety. A specially designed harness is typically wrapped around the head and under the chin, allowing the user to rest his or her body weight into the harness. This allows the rest of the body to dangle and the spine to stretch.
Most overdoor traction kits come with the harness that fits around the head as well as a securing system that attaches to the top of a door. The user can then securely attach the system to the top of the door, affix the harness to the securing system, and hang the body from the entire apparatus. The idea is to allow the weight of the body to stretch the spine naturally, thereby relieving pressure on muscles and nerves throughout the back. Many people who suffer from conditions associated with spinal compression use overdoor traction regularly to stretch the spine, which can shorten during a normal day regardless of one's level of physical activity.
It is important to purchase a specially designed overdoor traction kit rather than attempting to perform overdoor traction at home without the proper equipment. Using equipment that is not designed for overdoor traction can lead to injury or even death, so it is essential to use a system specifically designed to support the body during this activity. Using rope or other straps may lead to asphyxiation, and using materials not designed to support the weight of the body can result in breakage that can cause a fall.
Some traction units use a bag that can be filled with water to provide a counterweight. This allows a user to simply sit in a chair with the harness around his or her head. The bag of water will pull downward on a cable or rope, which is attached to a pulley system. The weight of the bag pulling down on the cable will in turn pull up on the harness, thereby providing traction. The amount of pull on the harness depends on how much water is poured into the bag. Users should consult a doctor to find out how much weight her or she should use and for how long.