Tai Chi and Qi Gong

“People doing Tai Chi regularly are far less likely to require treatment from an Osteopath!”

– David Isherwood BSc Ost. MSCC

Many patients ask what self help they can do to keep their body in good order and prevent recurrence of visits to the Osteopath. I suggest that prescribing daily exercises is less likely to be adhered to, over something more enjoyable which may be looked forward to. I do suggest to patients that they may look into Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises for good reasons which I will outline here. I also suggest that they may work well in combination with other things such as Yoga, Pilates, Core stability exercises and stretching. For those who enjoy more rigorous exercise Tai Chi can be as tough as you wish, it also acts for myself as a great warm up, cool down or alternative on days off training for other sports.

I have observed Tai Chi and Qi gong classes to analyse the various movements made and their subsequent validity.
A key theme taught centres around the tucking in of the lower stomach and the chin. Holding energy (Qi) in the lower abdomen, this lengthens the spine and opens the spaces in the rear where the nerves exit through the foramen between each vertebrae. This is particularly useful as we get older and the discs between each vertebrae narrows making the foramen smaller. This leads to irritation and possible trapped nerve style syndromes.

The world has changes in the last three decades, we now perform most of our duties either sitting at a desk or in car or armchair. This has led to increasingly poor posture whereby we fail to use our core abdomen and anterior neck muscles, slumping. A common presentation we find is poor spinal function and increase curves in the low back, Thorax and neck region. This posture compromises the important structures of the spine and may lead to compressed nerves which can lead to radiating symptoms of pain and odd feelings in legs feet arms and hands.

The same posture leads to shortened muscles and an inability to restore good health.

Tai Chi and Qi Gong addresses these issues. The permanent sucking in of the abdomen and neck strengthens the core muscles. From this point a series of combined slow gentle movements mobilise the spine and strengthens the balancing muscles to hold the same positions.

Key to what I feel about recommending this art is that it also acts as a form of meditation and may be attempted whenever you have less than ten minutes available. All that is required is a small space and loose clothes. No Gyms, mats running shoes or fancy apparel necessary. It can be done alone or in a group. Once the basics are learnt it stays with you for life and all that is required is to improve on quality of movement.

In London I recommend a visit to the Mei Quan Academy of Taji website which follows the Yang style. Their teachers are excellent and attentive. You may find a beginners course works well combined with one or two one on one classes if you wish to progress more rapidly.

If you would like a recommendation to local classes and teachers in the area please email david@theosteopath.net

Out of the local area visit the following site where you will find more details of Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

I would strongly recommend visiting a specialist before attempting Tai Chi if you have knee injuries as some of the exercises involved can place pressure on them, or avoid these parts of the routine.

Mei Quan Academy of Tai Chi London

This is an  excellent routine of young lady showing that Tai Chi Beijing 24-form can be as tough or gentle. as you want it to be. Silk Pyjamas a must.

Link to NHS recommendations for Tai Chi