- by Daniel
Learn Tai Chi - The One Martial Art That Soothes Rather Than Inflicts Pain
If you suffer from persistent back pain and find some types of exercise too strenuous, Tai Chi might be a good fit for you to allow you to remain active.
Being proactive and fighting back against your back pain is the philosophy of this website.
However, learning a martial art to do this may sound like you're taking the message a little too literally!
As such it may not seem very appealing to you and 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 demonstrate how to carry out a certain 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 become 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's one martial art that is different from the rest and won't lead to you getting beaten up.
In fact, it'll help to soothe your pain rather than inflicting more of it on to you.
And that magical martial art is called Tai Chi.
Why Learn Tai Chi?
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 so 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 really gentle and low-impact activity that is easy on your joints and suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Which makes it perfect if you are a bit older or struggle with more intense forms of exercise.
And the benefits of Tai Chi apply to healthy people and those with chronic pain and illnesses alike.
As they range from general everyday health benefits to being helpful for people with more serious health issues.
In fact, Tai Chi has been found to be a great activity for people suffering from many forms of serious chronic illnesses including:
So it's a pretty powerful activity to get involved in.
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi began in China as a martial art but is now used in the west more as an exercise activity to promote health and well-being.
And due to it's calm nature it's 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 relax your body and reduce your stress and anxiety.
Tai Chi is also a low-impact exercise with no jarring motions, which makes it a gentle and safe activity for the spine.
And it 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 a good place to meet new people in a relaxing environment.
Also 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.
And get your daily fix of vitamin D.
Why Is Tai Chi Good For People With Back Pain?
Tai Chi has been shown to be helpful for people with chronic lower back pain.
For instance, one study in Sydney found that a group of people with lower back pain had less pain and better movement after undergoing 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.
And this balance allows your body to distribute weight and pressure evenly as you move throughout the day,.
Which prevents muscle imbalances from forming and reduces the load on your spine.
Also this improved balance will 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 in Tai Chi will stretch, strengthen, and lengthen the muscles throughout your body.
This will increase your flexibility which will also reduce any strain on your lower back.
And the mindful movements alongside controlled, deep breathing in Tai Chi help to relax your body and mind as you move.
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.
Tai Chi will also 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 and get rid of persistent back pain.
And finally, the 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.
And this will also help to reduce any inflammation, so you'll experience less muscle soreness and stiffness.
So good news all round for your back.
How To Get Started & Learn 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 an actual class to learn the moves correctly rather than trying to teach yourself at home.
As this way you'll learn how to do it correctly and minimise the risk of any injuries.
So what happens during a Tai Chi class?
The instructor will go through a sequence of flowing movements a couple of times as a demonstration, 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.
And if you are lucky you may even find an outdoor class, which will bring the added benefit of exercising outside in the fresh air too.
After a few classes when you are confident with the movements of Tai Chi you could start to practice at home using free videos like the one above.
And home practice is good as it can be done anytime you like.
But to get the real benefit of Tai Chi and teach your body good balance and coordination you need to 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.
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 reduce 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!