How effective is tai chi for spinal stenosis? Will practicing this Chinese martial art style actually provide pain reduction? How about the idea that tai chi also imparts general health benefits; is it true?
Many people around the world participate in tai chi practice each day. Some of these people are using their daily practice of tai chi as a therapeutic modality to help relieve certain health problems. Spinal stenosis is just one of many of these problematic disorders that are commonly treated with tai chi.
This article provides a complete evaluation of tai chi as a form of exercise therapy for spinal stenosis patients. It you suffer from stenosis and want to know if tai chi will provide benefits to your health, then this discussion is optimally suited for your continuing research needs.
What is Tai Chi for Spinal Stenosis?
Tai chi is an age-old soft-style Chinese martial art style that is concerned with the development of qi energy. It has evolved over many generations into a popular form of qigong and provides daily exercise to countless people, especially in China.
Qi energy is a vital force that animates the body and provides the stimulus for numerous processes that occur within the anatomy. It is also a force that can be called upon to improve health, provide self defense or accomplish virtually any physical or spiritual task. Qi development has shown many verified benefits, although how it works exactly is quite mysterious to the diagnostic tools of western medicine. Meanwhile, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using qi to optimize overall health and wellness for thousands of years, as well as utilizing it to treat a wide range of health problems.
Tai Chi Benefits
Tai chi is a gentle form of martial art that can be performed by anyone at any age. The movements can be custom tailored to each individual fitness level and provide a comprehensive workout, including calisthenics, stretching and strength building practices. Additionally, tai chi focuses internal qi energy and helps in development of optimal mind, body and spirit health.
Tai chi can be used primarily as a form of gentle exercise and stretching and provides benefits of physical therapy in that regard. Tai chi can also be a form of dynamic meditation, offering the proven health benefits of this powerful transformative practice.
Some practitioners of tai chi claim that it helps them to reduce pain, regardless of the source. This is logical, given tai chi helps the body to improve energy flow, circulation and neurological function, as well as manufacture organic chemicals that fight pain.
Tai Chi for Spinal Stenosis Editorial Commentary
Tai chi is a great activity that can be beneficial in so many ways. As a long-time practitioner and teacher of Yang Style Taijiquan, I can call on my own experience to justify recommending tai chi to all as a great form of mindbodyspirit health enhancement, physical fitness and even conservative pain relief. However, as a health researcher, educator and advocate, I can also provide the counterpoint POV that says that tai chi is extremely limited in what it can do for spinal stenosis sufferers as far as providing a cure.
I encourage all patients to continue to exercise and stretch as much as they possibly can. These activities are crucial for good health and can help to prolong physical functionality, even in the face of a debilitating condition like stenosis. However, patients should have realistic objectives from such conservative practices and should definitely not buy into the hype of a potential cure for their stenosis as a result of daily tai chi practice. It is just not going to happen.
One important reminder is that many cases of asymptomatic and typical spinal stenosis are unjustly blamed for creating symptoms, when another as yet undiagnosed origin is the real source. In these cases, tai chi might be more effective as a dedicated health treatment, since it can help to resolve some common causes of back, neck and sciatica pain. We discuss this possibility in our coverage of tai chi for back pain and tai chi for sciatica on The Cure Back Pain Network.