As an orthopedist, I frequently treat patients with arthritic joints and osteoporosis. A few months ago, one of these patients recently returned from China and told me about an ancient Chinese exercise practice that he’d learned there. He had been practicing it ever since and his arthritis pain and stiffness have improved dramatically.
After looking into the history of this Chinese exercise system, I understood why this patient was so improved. It’s one of the oldest exercise practices in the world – having been practiced in China for over 4,000 years – and can really work wonders for joint pain and arthritis. Its name is Qi Gong (chee goon) – qi for energy and gong for steady practice. I think you’ll be amazed at how energetic, flexible and youthful this ancient Chinese exercise can make you feel.
Heal Bones and Joints with this Ancient Chinese Secret
Qi Gong is a mind-body exercise that mimics the gentler side of Nature – a soft Wind, lapping Water, or assuming the postures of one of Nature’s many animals – a bear, deer, monkey, or a tiger. It involves deep breathing while performing its moves which can lead to a deeply meditative state of mind. It’s been said to be China’s equivalent to India’s yoga.
Around the 1900’s, the Communist Party in China had outlawed the practice of Qi Gong as a healing practice because it lacked a scientific foundation. It then started to be done in secret gatherings of people. Because of the many beneficial claims of improvement, health doctors and scientists then began to look into its effect on health and soon were backing its benefits.
Qi Gong’s name refers to cultivating the body’s energy to heal and strengthen every system in the body. One of those systems is your skeletal system and I’d like to tell you about the positive things it can do for your bones and joints.
Qi Gong is a very gentle, non-impact, form of exercise that helps your bones and joints to loosen up and have reduced pain and stiffness. Practitioners say this is because it releases the “stagnant energy” in your bones and joints. Many people with arthritis and/or osteoporosis claim that it has allowed them to gain greater mobility and the ability to climb stairs, walk, and do many other activities with much less, or no, stiffness and pain. Even people with limited mobility in wheelchairs and using walkers can benefit from doing Qi Gong.
Research studies published by the National Institutes of Health in 2011 revealed that practicing Qi Gong significantly increased bone mineral density. Another study done by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) revealed that the ‘strongest and most consistent evidence of health benefits’ for Qi Gong is bone health, balance and factors associated with preventing falls and is a viable alternative form of exercise versus traditional forms of exercise.
Practitioners of Qi Gong state that it will help:
1. Naturally alleviate painful joints, increasing mobility throughout your body.
2. Boost flexibility and balance.
3. Increase bone density.
4. Improve energy levels.
In Qi Gong for bone and joint health, there are about 24 different moves. These include moves that “breathe” new energy into bones; release tension, improve range of motion, improve circulation to the discs of the spine; open up joints and increase blood flow; stimulate meridians (as in acupuncture) for increased energy; develop coordination and balance; foster strong bones; as well as relaxation and circulation of energy throughout.
How Can You Reap The Benefits of Qi Gong?
The best way to start reaping the bone and joint improvement benefits of Qi Gong is to take a class in it to learn the moves. Local Recreational Centers, fitness studios, Family Y’s, often offer Qi Gong classes. You can also visit the National Qi Gong Association’s website and search for members in your area. Members can help you find an instructor in your area and/or invite you to a group that is already in progress in your community.
There are also DVD’s that you can buy for at-home instruction as well. One of the best series is by the Qi Gong teacher, Lee Holden. Amongst many other helpful Qi Gong programs, one is specifically offered for improving bone and joint health, Healthy Joints and Bones. There are also some demonstrations on YouTube, with various practitioners, that demonstrate some basic Qi Gong moves.
I’m all for any form of therapy that can increase bone mineral density, unlock stiff joints, decrease/ease the pain of arthritis, increase mobility, flexibility and balance in my patients. All these things greatly improve the quality of life of my patients. From the studies I’ve read, and the positive effects I’ve seen in my patients who practice Qi Gong, I’m convinced it can improve your quality of life too.
Mark Bromson, M.D.
Qi Gong for Healthy Joints, http://www.exercisetoheal.com/qi+gong+dvds/qi+gong+for+healthy+joints+%26+bones.html
National Qi Gong Association, http://nqa.org/find-member/
A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qi Gong and Tai Chi, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085832/\
Tai Chi and Qi Gong Show Some Beneficial Health Effects, http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/071910.htm