Tai Chi and Chronic Pain - By: Kassandra Sousa, LMT
Tai Chi and Chronic Pain
By: Kassandra Sousa, LMT
What is pain? Ask any number of people and typically you’ll get responses such as “dull”, “achy” “sharp”. Pain can be chronic, and it can be for a moment like stubbing a toe. There is no one universal definition, nor is there one version. The thing about pain is it does what it wants; when it so chooses.
Thankfully, there are many ways to try and mitigate that issue.
Generally speaking, when someone is living through a chronic illness, working out in typical ways isn’t always a possibility. A person could be limited due to different physiological disorders from fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and arthritis, to an old injury that didn’t quite heal correctly, or anywhere in between. Out of the many things that we could do such as swimming, other water therapies, gentle yoga, or using an elliptical that are great low-impact workouts, tai chi is a great option that can be practiced anywhere!
What is tai chi?
Tai chi from the outside looks like a slow motion dance, but it’s actually a lot more intricate than that. It is a series of exercises that flow slowly into each other, pushing your body to move fluidly while strengthening your joints, muscles, and your ability to balance. It’s also great for flexibility, which has been linked to helping aid in the healing of muscles, bones, and tendons; the root of many chronic pains.
Arthritis and other ailments that affect the body physically tend to make muscles feel stiff. That stiffness limits the efficiency of your physical body in your everyday life. Lightly pushing through that stiffness, with the okay and supervision from a doctor, can be a very powerful force in changing a person’s overall quality of life in a positive way.
When you improve strength and flexibility in your body, you keep the body in a healthy flowing state, both physically, and mentally. When you are in a more open/ limber state, your body’s systems work better, lowering your blood pressure, taking a person out of fight-or-flight, and easing anxiety and depression. The movements help your muscles push blood improving circulation of not only blood, but lymph as well. Your lymphatic system is essentially your body’s sewage system, and when it flows correctly, your body is able to process everything coming in and out of it better.
The ironic thing about society is how quickly we spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to regularly update and maintain non-essential pleasures. If we begin to treat our worn (and injured) bodies the way we fix and maintain cars and electronics, the possibilities of self-healing are limitless (and less expensive).
Chronic pain may never fully go away, but self-discipline and grit, may lessen the amount of those flare up days we all experience.
WebMD on tai chi and arthritis relief:
Tai Chi for Health Institute:
Flexibility and its effects on chronic pain: