Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Alexander Jimenez looks into Tai Chi for back pain.
Q&A with Tai Chi Specialist Dr. Paul Lam
While lots of people take a “no pain, no increase” approach to work out, that’s for handling back and neck pain not always safe or effective. That’s where tai chi comes in. This low-impact, slow moving form of exercise delivers results without the sweat and soreness. Though it’s tender and meditative tai chi promotes strength, flexibility, and balance—the trifecta to get a healthier spine.
In case you have back or neck pain—or you’re looking for methods to prevent it in the first place —tai chi may be worth investigating. To help answer common questions and shed light on lesser-known facts relating to this ancient Chinese mind and body practice, we reached out to Dr. Paul Lam, manager of the Tai Chi for Health Institute in Australia.
Q: During your research, what has become the most insightful finding you’ve found about tai chi as it relates to back pain?
A: The most insightful finding in my research concerning tai chi involved the mental impact and the deep stabilizer muscles to back pain.
Ninety percent of men and women have back pain at some period in their own lives, and more than 60 percent of that is continual. I discovered that nearly all individuals with back pain, no matter what the cause, have poor stabilizer muscles. Research has shown that strong stabilizers will prevent back pain and hasten healing.
Reinforcing the stabilizer muscles that are back is quite similar to tai chi training. The main element is an erect pose, exercising the stabilizers through the pelvic floor along with the transverse abdominus muscles, and using abdominal breathing. This really is among the important reasons why tai chi works so well for back pain.
One other insight I’ve discovered involves your head. Anxiety makes pain worse. Oftentimes with the continuing and persistent back pain, the cause of the pain might have gone, but the pain continues. Like a phantom pain, the thoughts’s ingrained custom proceeds to provide pain signals to the brain. Tai chi trains body and the mind, making both integrated and more powerful. It is but one of the utmost effective tools to greatly help with the mental aspects of back pain.
Q: What’s your best advice for somebody who’s apprehensive about beginning tai chi?
A: The reason why they are apprehensive about beginning tai chi, it depends. I can guarantee them it is safe, simple to understand, and proven effective, if people believe tai chi is a martial art and might be overly hard to learn. Millions of people around the globe have learned and profited from it, although the other consideration is the fact that individuals might believe tai chi is too tough to learn.
Q: How do individuals get the most?
A: I advocate people to practice tai chi for 30–40 minutes daily (it may be performed in separate sittings) most days each week. You will gain significant improvement in your quality of life and relief from back pain.
Q: Do you have some success stories that are personal which you can share regarding the benefits of tai chi for back pain?
A: Thousands! But to pick on only one, I’ve comprised a letter below written by a woman named Amatullah from Saudi Arabia.
“In 2009, I ‘d back pain for quite a while. Nothing worked, although I attempted many types of therapy. My friend said, ‘Try tai chi, it’s a gentle exercise.’ Because my back was sore, I refused at first, but I attempted it. It was really surprising to me how people from 35 to 80 years old could do the movements, when I couldn’t. I found to be able to steadfastly keep up their health, some of them had been practicing for up to 35 years. I understood they were much fitter and much more flexible than my parents, therefore I decided to learn it. I practiced in all weather, in the park every day. My back pain vanished and has never return.”
Q: Are there tai chi resources you can recommend?
A: Yes, the Tai Chi for Health Institute web site has many resources, including a summary of accredited educators around the planet.
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