This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
After a recent ride malfunction at Canada's Wonderland left some visitors hanging upside-down for half an hour, many are raising concerns about health risks.
"Me and my friends all felt the same effects and I'm pretty sure it's the same for everyone," Lukas Russo said in a TikTok message.
"I also had so much blood going to my head just like everyone else," he wrote, adding he felt like blood was going to come out of his nose, his eyes felt heavy and it felt weird to breathe. He also said he thought his head was going to "explode."
What are the dangers of hanging upside-down for prolonged periods of time? Read on for everything you need to know.
What does inversion do to your body?
Your blood pressure to increase
Your heartbeat to slow down
Increased pressure on your eyes
The heart has a hard time maintaining blood pressure when upside-down. It beings receiving more blood than it can pump in that position.
The weight of organs also poses a risk. Science website HowStuffWorks explained when you're hanging upside down, your lungs are weighed down by the organs usually sitting below them. That means they "simply can't absorb enough oxygen given the available space they have to work with."
But it's not just the lungs, that aren't meant for reverse suspension — our blood vessels can't function properly either.
"Our bodies are well set up to move blood around when we're standing upright, and our blood vessels are customized to make sure blood doesn't pool up in our feet," wrote HowStuffWorks research reporter Jesslyn Shields.
"But that system is a one-way street — our bodies didn't evolve to keep blood from pooling in the brain. When this happens, all sort of things could go wrong, including ruptured blood vessels, which can lead to brain hemorrhage."
How dangerous is hanging upside-down for an extended period of time?
Hanging upside down doesn't have to be dangerous for everyone, but it shouldn't be done for long.
According to Healthline, hanging upside-down (inversion) is sometimes used as a form of physical therapy. It's said to reverse the compression of gravity on the spine, and therefore improve back pain, spinal health and flexibility.
However, it is not safe for everyone.
It's particularly risky for those with high blood pressure, any heart conditions, glaucoma, back fractures, osteoporosis or hernia.
"Hanging upside down also isn't safe if you are obese, overweight, or pregnant," Healthline explained.
It's rare, but hanging upside down can cause death when blood pools in the head, Healthline added, "which can be extremely dangerous for the body."
HowStuffWorks added age can be a factor too, but doesn't "seem to be a hard-and-fast rule about how long it's safe to hang out upside down."
According to the site, the rule of thumb is: "If you're upside down and start to feel like you should stop, then stop."