Tai Chi beats stretching for pain

There may be a perception among some that Tai Chi is little more than rhythmic stretching meant mostly for older folk. There is much more to Tai Chi than that however, and it repeatedly shows impressive powers for healing. Now in a new study Tai Chi has shown exceptional powers to heal the debilitating pain of fibromyalgia.

Tai Chi is also known as Tai Chi Chuan and is seen by those who know it well as a martial art both for its health benefits and defence training qualities. In its original form the self defence form of Tai Chi is based upon being relaxed and yet also solid and its art lies in turning the opponent’s energy back on them. The full name of Tai Chi Chuan literally means “supreme ultimate fist”; so we aren’t talking any prissy slow motion ballet here. The essence of Tai Chi is learned control of the self.

Having put Tai Chi into context, what can it do for a severe problem like fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia affects up to 200 million globally yet it is hard to identify. It features pain, fatigue, stiffness, sleep difficulties, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual pains, tingling hands and feet, and even difficulty thinking clearly. It is a long term illness that can be quite debilitating.

To test the impact of Tai Chi on fibromyalgia researchers split a group of fibromyalgia patients into two further groups. Those in the Tai Chi group took two 60 minute classes per week for three months and were encouraged to practise at least twenty minutes per day. The other group received health lectures and stretching classes.

To assess the effectiveness of both options the researchers measured pain and other symptoms using a 100 point scale. After three months the Tai Chi group had an average 28 point improvement compared only to nine point improvements in the stretching group.

This shows that the meditation, breathing, and controlled movements of Tai Chi make it much more than a gentle stretching exercise. Be aware then that the next time you see a pack of early morning practitioners engaged in this rhythmic activity; you are in fact witnessing the supreme ultimate fist in action.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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