New guidelines released by the American College of Physicians suggest that an ancient Chinese martial art can be an effective defense against back pain! Read the article, below, for more information!
Tai chi combines slow, gentle movements with deep breathing and mental focus. It’s one of several nondrug measures—including yoga, chiropractic care, and massage—that the new guidelines recommend back-pain sufferers try before resorting to over-the-counter or prescription pain medications.
A new, nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of more than 3,500 adults who’ve had back pain in the last three years confirms that tai chi helps provide relief. Nearly 90 percent of respondents who used tai chi for back pain (or yoga or a similar exercise) found it helpful. In comparison, only 64 percent of people thought the advice and treatment they got from a primary-care physician or orthopedic surgeon gave them relief.
“Tai chi helps with back pain in several ways,” says Benjamin Kligler, M.D., national director of the Integrative Health Coordinating Center at the Veteran’s Health Administration. “It strengthens the muscles in your abdomen and pelvic area that are crucial to supporting the lower back; it improves your balance and flexibility; and it makes you more aware of your posture when you sit, stand, and walk.”
The research used as a basis for the new guidelines involved chronic pain patients, whose pain lingered for three months or longer.
Tai chi can also help alleviate shorter-term pain as well, says Kligler, but be aware that it takes at least a few weeks to start seeing results. “Massage or acupuncture may provide more immediate relief,” he says.