Anyone who has suffered back pain, especially lower back pain, understands from listening to doctors and therapists that much of their problems are the result of years of bad posture. The spine is meant to curve in a certain manner to allow the nervous and circulatory systems to function at their optimum. When we slouch, sag our shoulders, even stand too straight, such as maintaining a military like posture, we force the spine into unnatural positions. When these positions are held for long periods we begin to develop many different types of problems, from chronic pain to shortness of breath.
Tai Chi is a form of exercise that was developed in China millennium ago and that is being used more and more often for the treatment of problems caused by bad posture, such as back and neck pain. In the United States it is a common site to see groups of people slowly moving through Tai Chi sets in parks and community centers. The three basic elements, and how they are trained to work in harmony, is what gives Tai Chi its edge in dealing with problems like this. While Tai Chi does have its healing aspects, it was designed to promote healing instead of aggressive action.
Tai Chi involves movement, much more than yoga for instance, but at the same time the movements are not high impact. Since all movement begins at the spine, Tai Chi movements are geared to stretch the muscles, open block channels and stimulate the nervous system. This process is handled in the following manner:
- The focused and rhythmical breathing encourages strong circulation by helping to oxygenate the blood, which flows into both the muscles and the brain during movement.
- The movement itself is slow and fluid, which helps improve and maintain the body's posture, spine's alignment, coordination, balance, stamina, strength and flexibility.
- During movement, when the breathing matches the body's movements, the concentration allows students to move into a shallow meditative state which dissipates stress and anxiety, which helps relieve even chronic pain.
There have been many studies done at Western medical research companies and universities that have established that Tai Chi provides both physical and psychological benefits to its users and that these benefits continue to grow even when they are not actually practicing, like having better posture and balance and less stress in their lives that they are unable to deal with.