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How Tai Chi Helps in Neck Pain

By Dr. Brent Wells

If that crick in your neck just won’t go away, Tai Chi could be your best bet for relief. Sounds crazy? It shouldn’t. Tai Chi, often called “meditation in motion,” is now being described by Harvard researchers as “medication in motion.” These positive benefits have been reported in numerous recent studies and place Tai Chi as a unique long-term solution for your joint health. Heads up: it could be a game-changer for your neck pain.

What’s Tai Chi?

Tai Chi, which originated in ancient China, is a series of slow, continuous movements. You can think of Tai Chi as a “slow-motion dance” with movements that use your entire body in a smooth, low-impact setting. Moreover, Tai Chi has a holistic approach that focuses on engaging your body and mind through fluid movements and mindful breathing. The goal is to create complete harmony of body and mind.

Generally speaking, Tai Chi is a good choice for those with joint-related pain. During Tai Chi, your muscles and joints stay relaxed instead of being tensed or extended. With the continuous motion of Tai Chi, your body gets the exercise it needs without the high-impact of other sports. Like yoga, which has many stretches that relieve neck pain, Tai Chi can reduce pain with its dance-like movements.

How can Tai Chi help in neck pain?

Tai Chi has seven main benefits that can help relieve your neck pain. Many of these benefits can be felt immediately after a Tai Chi session, which is good news if you’re in pain. Let’s take a look at these benefits in detail.

1) Boost flexibility

This may be the most obvious benefit, but also the most powerful. Tai Chi’s movements prevent joints from becoming stiff and improve range of motion. This means your muscles feel better and are more functional. Thinking specifically about neck pain, Tai Chi will make your neck-related muscles more fluid and widen your motion so that neck cricks are less likely to happen.

 2) Strengthen muscles

Tai Chi also strengthens your muscles, especially those involved with daily movements. In general, weak muscles only make joint pain worse. Weak muscles cause your joints to take on the burden of weight and movement without help. This can be painful and weaken your joints, too. Because Tai Chi strengthens muscles, your joints will be better supported and stabilized. In the case of neck pain, your neck and upper back muscles will be enhanced for better daily support.

3) Improve general fitness

Tai Chi also has other general health benefits. In particular, it’s great cardio exercise, which can keep your blood flow and oxygen supply strong. Maintaining a healthy blood flow is key for many joint-related problems, including neck pain. When your joints can’t get the oxygen they need, they won’t work as well. By doing regular cardio exercise – such as Tai Chi – your joints will stay oxygenated and healthy, including your neck.

4) Build up posture and balance

Tai Chi also focuses on position and awareness of your own body. Specifically, movements in Tai Chi are specific and require concentration to do them properly. In this way, Tai Chi trains you to pay attention to your body and the way you move it. This kind of attention is good for building balance, but also posture. Neck pain in particular is often aggravated by poor posture, such as “text neck” or slouching at your desk. By doing Tai Chi, you can improve your posture and also be aware of your body during the day.

5) Fortify your mind

Since Tai Chi uses a mind-body approach, it’s also good for your stress levels. By working on your breathing and focusing on your movements, Tai Chi can help reduce stress and anxiety. In turn, this sense of relaxation will relieve pain symptoms and ensure that your muscles stay loose and fluid. Tai Chi can also boost your mood and help you feel empowered with your body. This can only help relieve your neck pain symptoms in the long-run.

6) Create long-term, accessible exercise

In addition, Tai Chi is an extremely accessible form of exercise. Tai Chi requires no special equipment and can be done from your home. You can do it on your own, or with a Tai Chi group. In this way, Tai Chi is an affordable option for many with joint pain problems, such as neck pain. In the long-run, this can keep your pain symptoms at bay and maintain your health at every stage of your life. 

7) Relieve pain

If you’re experiencing pain, Tai Chi is a great option for immediate relief. For those suffering from joint-related problems, exercise is highly recommended. Exercise keeps your muscles from getting stiff and this movement can help release tension. Specifically, low-impact exercise like Tai Chi is ideal for releasing this tension and keeping your pain-free. Since Tai Chi boosts your muscles and flexibility, as previously mentioned, it can also reduce pain levels over time.

8) Get you to sleep

Last but not least, Tai Chi can aid in your sleep symptoms. Your neck pain can get worse overnight, especially if you have poor sleeping habits. Since Tai Chi puts your body in balance, you can get to sleep more easily, as your muscles will feel relaxed and ready to rest. In addition, because Tai Chi improves your posture awareness, it can help you check your sleeping position before bed. Make sure your body stays in a neutral, comfortable position, with your neck placed level on a pillow. Getting good rest will keep your joints healthy.

Final takeaway

While there are many ways to get rid of neck pain, Tai Chi is an excellent and natural long-term solution. Instead of medication, go for meditation. You’ll see immediate positive results on your joint-related pain, including your neck.

As always, if you’re experiencing chronic neck pain, you should consult a doctor or chiropractor. A professional chiropractic clinic can help organize a care plan for your neck pain. This plan may include Tai Chi for home care, but also detail a specific diet, morning routine and therapy plan. This holistic approach goes hand-in-hand with the tenets of Tai Chi: to create a balanced body and mind.

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

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