Involving various movements called forms, tai chi is a type of exercise that’s becoming increasingly popular as a way to relieve back pain and improve posture and is frequently recommended by spine surgeons in Los Angeles. The slow, deliberate motions associated with tai chi minimize the stress on joints that sometimes negates benefits of other more strenuous types of exercise for people living with back pain.
Less Impact on the Spine
As with yoga, tai chi is a gentle form of exercise that doesn’t involve any jarring movements, which reduces the risk of aggravating existing back pain. Based on the Chinese martial art form Tai Chi Quan, the purpose of tai chi is to promote natural healing.
The slow motions of tai chi encourage a proper body alignment that can improve posture and relieve stress on joints, bones, and muscles. A big part of tai chi is stressing correct form and maintaining proper posture so movements can be performed in a way that’s natural and not forced. Tai chi may also help improve:
- Strength and flexibility
- Balance and coordination
- Circulation and blood flow
The qi, or vital energy, associated with tai chi promotes a proper flow of this life force through the body to facilitate relaxation. For a type of exercise often referred to “meditation in motion,” it’s not much of a stretch to see how tai chi can reduce the stress and anxiety that often makes back pain worse.
Basics of Tai Chi
A typical tai chi class starts with a warm-up that includes side-to-side head motion and shoulder circles. You’ll receive instruction on how to do the gentle breathing that’s combined with each movement. You’ll then be shown how to perform various sets, with short forms involving fewer movements and longer forms involving multiple movements. Short forms are recommended for people with back pain.
Before making tai chi part of your regular fitness routine, check with your doctor and consider observing a class. It’s considered a safe type of exercise, in part, due to its many modifications. Taoist tai chi, for instance, is a popular variation taught in many countries that focuses on overall wellbeing.
If your back pain isn’t responding to conservative treatments, it might be time to speak with a board-certified spine surgeon in Los Angeles about other treatment options. To schedule an in-person consultation, call The Spine Institute at (310) 828-7757 today.