Easing back pain with Tai Chi
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that has recently become a popular form of exercise. Due to its focus on slow and controlled movement, balance and posture, Tai Chi is often recommended for back pain relief. Tai Chi can be effective in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis, which is the deterioration of the joints in the spine, while working to improve strength and balance. To learn more about these graceful exercises, read the following article.
Principles and philosophy of Tai Chi
Tai Chi is based on the Chinese philosophy of balancing chi (life force). The ancient Chinese believed that aging and illness occur when the chi is hindered by tight, closed joints. Tai Chi is used to open the joints and allow chi to flow throughout the body, which is thought to slow the aging process and restore strength.
This exercise uses gentle movements performed in a set sequence, with focus on breathing and each movement flowing into the next. The movements of Tai Chi are meant to correct the improper movements we pick up during the ordinary course of our days and help us re-learn the natural way our bodies were meant to be moved.
Spine benefits of Tai Chi
The solo Tai Chi sequence (as opposed to the competitive forms where practitioners spar against one another in tournaments) moves the body through a complete range of motion. The movements emphasize straightening the spine and deep abdominal breathing while remaining anchored to the body’s natural center of gravity.
For individuals with arthritis of the spine and sciatica, this is believed to have some specific benefits, including:
- Increased core strength. Because the muscles of the core are the chief support system for the spine, Tai Chi’s focus on strengthening these muscles is believed to be extremely beneficial for spinal health.
- Increased circulation and oxygen flow. The breathing techniques and muscle movements of Tai Chi help to increase the blood and oxygen flow to muscles, which helps to flush out toxins and allows injuries to heal more quickly.
- Increased mental strength. Meditation is an important component of Tai Chi. Some people have reported that this aspect of Tai Chi has helped to increase mental strength, which, in turn, has helped them to better deal with their back pain.
Tai Chi often is a great form of exercise for those who experience back pain because it is low-impact and does not cause any physical trauma, which makes it easy on the spine. However, it is important to keep in mind that everybody functions differently, and a Tai Chi regimen may be contraindicated by your condition. Be sure to check with your health care professional before beginning to participate in Tai Chi or any other new exercise routine.
Surgical alternatives to Tai Chi
If several weeks or months of Tai Chi and other conservative treatments like pain medication or physical therapy are not effective for you, you may require surgery. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery^ in the form of our minimally invasive spine surgery. To learn more about the advantages of our outpatient procedures, contact us today.
Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has performed more than 100,000 patient procedures since 2005. Find out if you are a potential candidate for the procedures performed at our state-of-the-art surgery centers by reaching out to our dedicated team and asking for a free MRI review.* We can help guide you on your journey to wellness.