This doesn’t have to happen!
Back problems and arthritis are most often caused by mis-alignment and poor structural strength.
Within the Tai Chi & Qigong practice of Yichuan there are many postures we use to train healthy alignments while developing strength and resilience in the joints and ligaments.
If you tend to have pain in the shoulders, carpal tunnel issues, or back pain then this should be a high priority part of your practice.
When working these postures start with holding each one for just a few minutes. Add a minute each week until you are investing 15-20 minutes at a time.
When you train the posture there is likely to be some discomfort as you move though years of ill alignment. Remind yourself that it is temporary. Focus on your breath and relaxing around the effort.
This is another exercise where you can triple or quadruple your results by incorporating it into your day. Check your alignments when sitting at your desk, while you wait for the bus, during your morning commute, etc. Every time you readjust is another small step toward a vital and strong life.
Feel free to share this video with anyone you think might benefit. We can all live lives full of energy and well-being if we equip ourselves with some basic tools like this.
In January of 2008 I was involved in a bicycle accident that resulted in a fractured hip. My experience in the emergency room and following up with the specialist was disheartening. When I told the doctors that I practiced martial arts, I was told I would have to give that up for a long time and that I might not ever be the same again. The follow-up with the specialist was better, but not by much. They found I was fortunate, as far as hip injuries go, and the fracture of my greater trochanter was being held in place by muscle and wouldn’t require surgery. As far as recovery, I was told that I could begin to put weight on the injured leg as soon as it didn’t hurt and that because I was young, I should be mostly back to normal within a year. Though according to the doctor the prognosis for returning to the martial arts was still a distant goal.
The clearance to put weight on my injured leg was all I needed. Within two and a half weeks of the accident I was training in Yichuan. I couldn’t yet walk without crutches but I could stand and balance my weight between my feet. I started with ten minutes of the pile (embrace the tree) stance, twice a day. By the end of the first month I had added ten minutes of the p-chuan (a more intense and martially focused Yichuan position) stance for each leg and practiced the pile stance for half an hour. At four weeks I was able to walk, limping, with a cane. At six weeks I put the cane away and was practicing full Tai Chi forms. I waited to start kicking again until the three month mark when bone strength was guaranteed. At that time I had no limp and could move freely.
This summer, a year and a half after the break, I passed my instructors test with the Thai Boxing Association. I entirely credit my full recovery to practicing the Internal Arts. I am certain that years of practice prior to the injury gave me a sound basis and the body awareness needed to speed my recovery. Though it would likely be a slower process for someone new to the art, Yichuan would still be an excellent option for restoring your body from injury. Though physically sound, I still consider standing to be the core of all of my practices and with it I am able to push myself to limits I don’t come close to approaching at other times. -Russell
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-Becca, A happy new member of our Qigong and Tai Chi community