When many people reach a certain age usually around 40 years of age, hundreds of individuals begin to suffer with joint pain, tenderness,stiffness, locking and swelling around the area of the lower back. This can be caused by poor working conditions, illness, injury or simply wear and tear from old age, some people are affected by Osteoarthritis within the spine which can cause chronic pain and limit the individuals ability to move freely. In China there is a saying “That you are as old as your back” and if you have ever suffered with a painful back problem yourself or have seen maybe a family member or friend suffer with one, then you will understand the saying. As having a painful back problem can make the individual feel really old, as they are usually bent over from the waist and when they walk they shuffle their feet like an old person, their range of mobility is great reduced and limited.
Both in America and Australia scientific research studies and trials have taken place on how the practice of taijiquan can benefit suffers of lower back pain. One particular randomised trial of around hundred sixty individuals who’s average age was around 44yrs took part in a 10 week taijiquan course,the results showed that taijiquan significantly improved bothersome back pain symptoms. The participants also mentioned that they experienced lower pain intensities, less pain related disability, and felt that their health related quality of life improved, and, in general, felt better for practicing taijiquan.
In the practice of the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan the movements of the arms performing various size circles in the empty space that surrounds them are connected to the shoulders and upper back muscles and the thoracic spinal column. Through their movements the upper back and thoracic spine are gently stretched and exercised, allowing for the muscles in the shoulders and upper back to become more relaxed as they release their tension and for the thoracic spine to become more supple as the stiffness is gradually reduced.
It is the slow turning of the waist from side to side that also gently stretches the muscles of the lower back and lumbar area of the spinal column. In the taiji classics it is stated “That the power begins in the feet and travels upwards through the both legs into the waist, were the waist directs and leads the power through the spine and into the arms and hands”. Another saying is ” If the waist moves, so do the hands, if the waist does not move, neither do the hands”.
Through the gentle, slow, smooth actions of the Li Style (Lishi) taijiquan form anyone who suffers with lower back pain can receive great benefit it practice I. Helping to manage or prevent lower back pain as we all travel through life.