Learn Tai Chi – The Martial Art That Soothes Your Back Pain

If you suffer from chronic lower back pain and find other exercise too strenuous, Tai Chi might be a good fit for you. 

learn tai chi

Now fighting back against back pain is the philosophy of this site.

However learning a martial art to do that may seem to be taking the message a little too literally! 

And as such it may not sound very appealing to you. 

I can totally get that. 

Because my overriding memory of doing martial arts when I was younger can be summed up in one word: 


And not someone else's pain either but my own.

Because whether it was from an overenthusiastic Sensei bending my joints back and kneeling on my head while trying to show me how to carry out a move.

Or from a Jean-Claude Van Damme wannabe psychopath unloading punches into my ribs that would make Bruce Lee wince.

It just wasn't a pleasant experience.

And I learnt very quickly that I was destined to be a lover and not a fighter!

So why would I recommend a martial art if my own experience of doing them was so....painful?

Well the reason is that there is one martial art that won't lead to you getting beaten up.

In fact it'll help to soothe your pain rather than inflicting more of it on you.

And this magical martial art is called Tai Chi.​

Why Should You Learn Tai Chi?​

tai chi class

Now the suggestion to try Tai Chi to help your back pain may seem a bit out of left field. 

But don't rule it out too quickly. 

Because it can be a great way of reducing your back pain.

And it can also improve your flexibility, mobility, balance and help you to relax. 

It's also a gentle, low-impact activity that is suitable for everyone.

So no matter what age or fitness level you are at you can practice Tai Chi.

Which makes it perfect if you are a bit older or struggle with more intense forms of exercise​. 

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi began in China as a martial art ​but is now used in the west as an exercise to promote health and well-being.

And it is often referred to as a 'moving meditation'.

Because it uses mindfulness techniques alongside a combination of gentle, flowing movements and controlled, deep​ breathing.

And these mindful movements can really help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Tai Chi is also a low-impact exercise with no jarring motions

And this makes it a gentle  and safe activity on the spine.

It also only places low pressure on your bones and joints as you move.

So it's a great activity for relieving back pain​ in people that may find other activities too painful to do.

And as a final bonus Tai Chi is a social activity too.

As the classes are fun and can be a good place to meet new people in a relaxing environment.​​

And they often take place outdoors (you may have seen people practicing Tai Chi in the park before).

So they are a great way to get out into the fresh air too. 

Why is Tai Chi Good For Back Pain?

The benefits of Tai Chi apply to healthy people and those with chronic illnesses alike.

They range from general everyday health benefits to help for people with more serious problems.

In fact, tai chi has been found to be a great activity for people with many forms of serious chronic illnesses including:

And it has also been found to be helpful for people with chronic lower back pain too.​

For instance one study found that a group of people with lower back pain had less pain and better movement after 10 weeks of tai chi classes.

So why is it good for your back pain?

​Firstly the focus on posture and alignment as you flow through the movements creates balance in your body.

This balance allows your body to distribute weight evenly as you move throughout the day,.

Which prevents muscle imbalances and reduces the load on your spine.

And this improved balance will also give you better coordination, making you more mobile and less prone to injury.​

This makes Tai Chi especially good for elderly people as it helps to reduce the risk of falls​ as we get older.

Also the movements will strengthen and lengthen the muscles throughout your ​body.

And this will increase your flexibility which will also reduce any strain on your lower back.

The mindful movements and controlled, deep breathing of tai chi also help to relax your body and mind as you move.

And this releases stress and tension within your muscles which can otherwise cause you to assume a hunched and unhealthy posture.​

And this is so important because stress and anxiety are common problems in people with chronic pain.

So the relaxation part of tai chi is great for you.

And it'll improve your mood too leaving you feeling calm and happy.

Which helps to give you the positive attitude you need to be able to manage ​chronic pain.

It will also make you less prone to depression.​

And finally, this combination of breathing and flowing movements will increase your circulation.

Meaning your body will get more of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to heal and repair your aching muscles.

This will also help to  lower inflammation so you'll experience less muscle soreness and stiffness.​

So good news all round if you think that Tai Chi is an activity you might enjoy trying.​

How to Get Started and Learn Tai Chi

tai chi

​Tai Chi is accessible to anyone no matter what your age or fitness levels are.

So it's a pretty safe one to throw yourself into.

However it's still a good idea to start with a beginners class and work your way up.

And I'd recommend going to a class to learn the moves correctly rather than trying to teach yourself at home.

So what happens during a Tai Chi class?​

An instructor will go through a sequence of flowing movements a couple of times then will watch as the class repeats what they have just done​.

​This creates a natural flow between the instructor and the students.

And this flow is great as it can create a meditative state within the class as you move.

Also being surrounded by others as you practice helps you to feel more connected and involved with what you are doing.​

However the problem with getting started with Tai Chi is that the classes are not widespread.

So you may struggle to find one if you live outside of a big city.

​But try googling Tai Chi classes in your area and hopefully something will show up.

Alternatively you can try to locate a local Tai Chi class through the Tai Chi Finder website by clicking here.

If you are lucky you may even find an outdoor class which will bring the added benefit of being outside in the fresh air too.​

And after a few classes when you are confident with the workings of Tai Chi you can start to practice at home using free videos like the one below:

And home practice is good too as it can be done anytime and it's free.

But to get the real benefit of Tai Chi and teach your body good balance and coordination you should really be practicing regularly.

And even if this is just for 5-10 minutes at a time you will feel the benefits over the long run.​

Rounding Up

​I hope that after reading through this article you are more aware of Tai Chi and what it can bring to the table in the fight against back pain.

Because it's a nice, gentle activity that can reduce your back pain, improve your balance, and lower any stress and anxiety.​

And it's a great option for older people and can be a really nice social activity too.​

So if this sounds like something you'd like to try look up at a local Tai Chi class and ​give it a go.

After all, a martial art that takes away pain rather than trying to inflict it can't be a bad thing!​

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I'm a Painter and Decorator, psychology graduate, and veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help my fellow construction workers to fight back against persistent back pain like I have.

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