Inward Bound - The T'ai Chi Corner
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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:40 p

CORE MUSCLE: One of the major muscles that stabilizes and controls the pressure inside the trunk; these are the pelvic floor, abdominal wall, back, and diaphragm muscles.

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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:40 p


What is The Core?

By Robert Donatelli, PhD, PT

To the rehabilitation world the core is the lumbar-pelvic (trunk) and hip complex.

The Core is composed of as many as 35 different muscle groups connecting into the pelvis from the spine and hip area.

In order to simplify the Core muscles I have divided them into four regions; back extensors, abdominals, lateral trunk muscles, and the hip muscles.

The core is the center of gravity and where all movement begins.

It is also the center of stability for the lower limb, from the foot to the hip.

In order for muscles to move bone other muscles need to hold on to bones creating a solid base.

Therefore, the muscles in the core function as stabilizers and/or mobilize bone to allow movement.

How do the muscles know what to do stabilize or mobilize?

The muscle is told what to do by the brain.

All we have to do is think go… and the brain sends a message to the muscles that are needed for the activity, e.g. Sprint to the left, slide to the right, or jump.

Sometimes the muscles are injured or fatigued or out of shape and then, automatically, other muscles take over to help out.

This is when we get injured, pull a muscle, or suffer a sprained ankle.

The core is an important part of any sport that involves running, jumping, and sprinting.

Good muscle strength within the core is very important to golfers, tennis players, baseball players, core muscle strength, endurance, and power is important to any athlete.

In tennis if we attempt to get to a ball that our opponent hits to the other side of the court we need to move laterally and land on one leg while at the same time hit a passing shot down the line.

While balancing on one leg we need a stable base to hit off of.

If the strength of certain muscle groups in the pelvis and hip are not strong enough our pelvis becomes unstable.

Have you ever tried to hit a tennis ball while standing on a wobble board?

You will make all sorts of adjustments in order to hit the ball accurately.

Those adjustments could develop into an injury or poor technique.

Andy Roddick’s coach told me as we improved the strengthened Andy’s pelvis and hip muscles he was able to hit his passing backhand shot more effectively.

In golf strength of the core is critical for driving the ball long and accurate distances.

In fact prevention of injuries and improved performance in golf has been directly related to the strength of several hip muscles.

Many individuals work on strengthening of the leg muscles.

Many of the professional football players that I have rehabilitated have huge thigh and calf muscles.

However, when I start testing their core muscles of the spine and pelvis they fail miserably.

The body’s stabilization system has to be functioning optimally to effectively utilize the strength, power, and muscular endurance that they have developed in the prime movers of the lower leg.

When a muscle groups are working to stabilize bone their activity is referred to as co-contraction.

In other words several muscle groups are firing simultaneously in order to stabilize the joint or joints they surround.

Muscle groups are also referred to as agonist and antagonists.

That means that they work in pairs.

For example the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles (posterior and anterior thigh muscles) work together, as one is slowing down the knee the other is accelerate the knee.

The abdominal muscles are important core muscles.

However, if they are strengthened without training the muscles of the lumbar spine (the antagonists), or the lateral muscles of the trunk, the athlete is might develop tightness or instability in the low back area, which will have a significant impact on they performance and increase the chance of injury.

When one muscle group becomes too strong and the antagonist becomes weakened it is referred to as a muscle imbalance.

Muscle imbalances are a major cause of injures in athletes.

How can we know if we have weakness of the Core muscles?

I have put together an evaluation of specific tests to determine muscle strength of the core muscles.

One of the tests I use is a simple single leg stance position.

It is amazing how many athletes have difficulty standing on one leg for 6 seconds.

Then I ask the athlete to do a partial squat while attempting to maintain their knee over the foot.

Many times I observe no control of the leg.

As the athlete performs a partial squat they start to loss their balance or are unable to maintain their knee over their foot, as the knee moves from side to side during the squat.

I have observed many athletes with low back pain, hip pain, and knee pain and patellofemoral pain syndrome as a result of weakness of the core muscles.

The lack of strength of these stabilizers can cause chronic injury or poor performance on the tennis court.

What can we do to strengthen the Core muscles?

There are many exercises that I prescribe to my patients for core strengthening.

The exercises include basic weight lifting to strengthen the hip muscles to isometric exercises for the back extensors, abdominals, and lateral trunk muscle.

A strong and stable core can improve optimal performance throughout the lower leg and enable the athlete greater speed and endurance which will improve performance and prevent injuries.


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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:40 p

Core (anatomy)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In common parlance, the core of the body is broadly considered to be the torso.

Functional movements are highly dependent on this part of the body, and lack of core muscular development can result in a predisposition to injury.

The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back (not the shoulders), and peripherally include the hips, the shoulders and the neck.


Major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm.

The lumbar muscles, quadratus Lumborum (deep portion), deep rotators, as well as cervical muscles, rectus capitus anterior and lateralis, longus coli may also be considered members of the core group.

Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.

Functions of the core

The core is used to stabilize the thorax and the pelvis during dynamic movement and it also provides internal pressure to expel substances (vomit, feces, carbon-laden air, etc.).


Continence is the ability to withhold bowel movements, and urinary stress incontinence (the lack of bladder control due to pelvic floor dysfunction) can result from weak core musculature.


Women use their core muscles, specifically the transversus abdominis, during labor and delivery.

Valsalva maneuver

Core muscles are also involved in the Valsalva maneuver, where the thorax tightens while the breath is held to assist, often involuntarily, in activities such as lifting, pushing, excretion and birthing.

Anatomical posture and support

The core is traditionally assumed to originate most full-body functional movement, including most sports.

In addition, the core determines to a large part a person's posture.

In all, the human anatomy is built to take force upon the bones and direct autonomic force, through various joints, in the desired direction.

The core muscles align the spine, ribs, and pelvis of a person to resist a specific force, whether static or dynamic.

Static core function

Static core functionality is the ability of one's core to align the skeleton to resist a force that does not change.

Example of static core function

An example of static core function is firing a rifle in the prone position.

To maintain accuracy, the shooter must be able to transfer his or her own body weight and the weight of the rifle into the earth.

Any attempt of the shooter to create a dynamic motion of the sights (muscle the sights onto the target vs. allowing the posture to aim) will result in a jerky posture where the sights do not sit still on the target.

For the shooter to maintain accuracy, the muscles cannot exert force on the rifle, and the skeleton must be aligned to set the rifle (and therefore the sights) onto the target.

The core, while resting on the ground and relatively far away from the rifle, is nevertheless aligning the spine and pelvis to which the shoulder and arms and neck are connected.

For these peripheral elements to remain static, and not move unnecessarily, the spine, pelvis, and rib cage must be aligned towards this end.

Thus the core muscles provide support of the axial skeleton (skull, spine, and tailbone) in an alignment where the upper body can provide a steady, solid base for the rifle to remain motionless.

Resistance: Gravity

Plane of movement: Coronal (side to side), Sagittal (forward and behind the anatomical position).

Dynamic core function

The nature of dynamic movement must take into account our skeletal structure (as a lever) in addition to the force of external resistance, and consequently incorporates a vastly different complex of muscles and joints versus a static position.

Because of this functional design, during dynamic movement there is more dependence on core musculature than just skeletal rigidity as in a static situation.

This is because the purpose of movement is not to resist a static, unchanging resistance, but to resist a force that changes its plane of motion.

By incorporating movement, the bones of the body must absorb the resistance in a fluid manner, and thus tendons, ligaments, muscles, and innervation take on different responsibilities.

These responsibilities include postural reactions to changes in speed (quickness of a contraction), motion (reaction time of a contraction) and power (amount of resistance resisted in a period of time).

Example of dynamic core function

An example of this is walking on a slope.

The body must resist gravity while moving in a direction, and balancing itself on uneven ground.

This forces the body to align the bones in a way that balances the body while at the same time achieving momentum through pushing against the ground in the opposite direction of the desired movement.

Initially, it may seem that the legs are the prime movers of this action, but without balance, the legs will only cause the person to fall over.

Therefore, the prime mover of walking is achieving core stability, and then the legs move this stable core by using the leg muscles.


1. Karageanes, Steven J. (2004). Principles of manual sports medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 510–511. ISBN 978-0-7817-4189-7. Retrieved 26 March 2011.

2. Kisner, Carol; Colby, Lynn Allen (2007). Therapeutic Exercise. F A Davis Company. ISBN 9780803615847.


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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p

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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p

Summit Medical Group

Why Strong Core Muscles Matter

Reviewed by David A. Forlander, MSPT, OCS, CEAS

What are core muscles?

Core muscles in the torso of the body, including the abdomen, middle back, lower back, hips, and sides, work together to help stabilize the body, transfer energy from the legs to the upper body, and transfer energy from the upper body to the legs.

Core muscles help support the organs as well as align and support the spine, ribs, and pelvis.

They also support and align the skull, spine, and tailbone, which comprise the axial skeleton.

Core muscles are the foundation of healthy posture.

Major core muscles are located in the abdomen, middle back, and lower back.

They include the pelvic floor muscles, transverse abdominal muscles, internal side (or oblique) muscles, external side (or oblique) muscles, and diaphragm muscles, among others.

Peripheral core muscles are located in the hips, shoulders, and neck.

Why are core muscles important?

Most full-body movements depend on core muscles.

For example, core muscles stabilize the body between the head and abdomen (the thorax) as well as the pelvis for many movements.

They also support and align the axial skeleton together with the pelvis and rib cage to keep the body motionless when necessary.

Core muscles help you resist gravity while moving and balancing on an uneven surface.

If you’re walking down a hill, your core muscles support the axial skeleton, rib cage, and pelvis so that you can remain balanced upright while moving forward.

Your ability to prevent yourself from falling when you trip depends on the strength of your core muscles as well as your ability to recruit them quickly.

Core muscles also contract to expel waste such as urine, feces, vomit, and deoxygenated air.

They help with lifting, pushing, and giving birth.

When you exercise core muscles, you also strengthen the muscles in your arms and legs and improve your overall strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination.

In addition, experts in physical medicine suggest that having strong core muscles can help reduce back pain,1 incontinence, and gastrointestinal problems as well as improve bowel function.2

By strengthening muscles, ligaments, and tendons and promoting flexibility, core exercises help support joints and prevent joint and muscle injuries.3

Regularly exercising your core also tightens muscles around the waist, making it smaller.

When you combine abdominal exercises with a healthy diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, you can help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, improve the look of your physique, and enjoy the way your clothes fit!

If you are slim, core exercises can help improve your physique by giving your waist and muscles definition as well as keeping you strong overall.

Exercising Your Core

You can exercise your core muscles at home, outside, or in a gym.

The exercises require little space and many effective core exercises need no equipment.

You can exercise your core muscles on a mat on the floor for comfort.

You also can use equipment, including medicine balls, exercise balls, and exercise bands to vary your workout.

If you enjoy exercising on your own at home, DVDs are excellent sources for learning a wide variety of core exercises and helping stay motivated to continue exercising.

People of almost all ages and fitness levels can benefit from exercising their core muscles.

If you have back problems, are pregnant, or have other health problems, talk with your doctor before beginning a core exercise program.

Some basic abdominal floor exercises include:*

• Elevated leg curl ◦ Lie flat on your back

◦ Keep your legs together

◦ Lift your legs off the floor at a 45° angle

◦ Bend your knees with your shins parallel to the floor

◦ Stretch your arms toward the ceiling, keeping them shoulder-width apart and at a 45° angle

◦ Keep your eyes focused on the ceiling

◦ Lift your shoulders and legs toward each other at the same time, touching your wrists to your knees and exhaling

◦ Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position

◦ Repeat the exercise until your abdominal muscles begin feeling tired (when you can barely stand doing another elevated leg curl!)

◦ Repeat the exercise for 3 to 4 sets, resting 1 minute between sets

Whether you begin with a set of 5, 10, 20, or more elevated leg curls, it's important to increase the number of curls over time as you become stronger and the exercise becomes easier for you.

• Scissor crosses ◦ Lie flat on the floor on your back

◦ Place your hands palm down beneath your buttocks

◦ Spread your legs apart several inches more than the width of your shoulders

◦ Raise your legs 1 foot above the floor

◦ Raise your head several inches off the ground with your chin touching your chest

◦ Keep your legs elevated

◦ Alternate crossing your legs back and forth over each other

◦ Exhale each time your cross your legs

◦ Repeat the exercise until your abdominal muscles begin feeling tired (when you can barely stand doing another scissor cross!)

◦ Repeat the exercise for 3 to 4 sets, resting 1 minute between sets

Whether you begin with a set of 5, 10, 20, or more scissor crosses, it is important to increase the number of scissor crosses over time as you become stronger and the exercise becomes easier for you.

• Squirm crunch ◦ Sit on the floor

◦ Lean back at a 45° angle

◦ Straighten your arms at shoulder height at your sides and keep them parallel to the floor

◦ Bend your knees and lift your legs so that your heels are several inches off the floor

◦ Keep your legs shoulder-width apart

◦ Using your right hand, twist and reach under your legs to touch your left heel, while exhaling and contracting your abdominal muscles (allowing your opposite arm to go slightly behind you)

◦ Inhale and return to starting position

◦ Using your left hand, twist and reach under your legs to touch your left heel, while exhaling and contracting your abdominal muscles (allowing your opposite arm to go slightly behind you)

◦ Repeat the exercise until your abdominal muscles begin feeling tired (when you can barely stand doing another squirm crunch!)

◦ Repeat the exercise for 3 to 4 sets, resting 1 minute between sets

Whether you begin with a set of 5, 10, 20, or more squirm crunches, it is important to do more crunches as you become stronger and the exercise becomes easier for you.

• Russian Twists ◦ Sit on the floor

◦ Place your legs slightly apart out in front of you

◦ Bend your knees

◦ Lean back slightly with your back at a 45° angle to the floor

◦ Place your arms straight out in front of you

◦ Lift your feet an inch off the floor

◦ Twist your upper body side to side, touching the ground on each side with both of your hands, moving your head with your body and exhaling with each twist

◦ Repeat the exercise until your abdominal muscles begin feeling tired (when you can barely stand doing another Russian twist!)

◦ Repeat the exercise for 3 to 4 sets, resting 1 minute between sets

Whether you begin with a set of 5, 10, 20, or more Russian twists, it is important to do more twists as you become stronger and the exercise becomes easier for you.

• Side bridge crunch ◦ Lie on the floor on your side

◦ Keep your legs and back straight

◦ Keep your feet evenly on top of each other

◦ Lift yourself up off the floor so that your arm is fully extended above the elbow, taking care not to lock the elbow joint

◦ Place your top hand behind your head, bending the elbow of that arm

◦ Keep your body straight and tighten your abdominal muscles, exhaling and bringing your top elbow over to touch the floor in front of you

◦ Inhale and return to the starting position

◦ Repeat the exercise until your abdominal muscles begin feeling tired (when you can barely stand doing another side bridge crunch!)

◦ Repeat the exercise for 3 to 4 sets, resting 1 minute between sets

◦ Switch sides and follow instructions until you have completed the same number of side bridge crunches and sets for each side

Whether you begin with a set of 5, 10, 20, or more side bridge crunches, it is important to do more crunches as you become stronger and the exercise becomes easier for you.

• Starfish crunch ◦ Lie flat on your back

◦ Extend your arms over your head

◦ Spread your legs out so that your body forms an X

◦ Lift your right arm and left leg, reaching across and touching your fingers to your ankle

◦ Tighten your abdominal muscles during the crunch and exhale

◦ Keep the opposite arm and leg on the floor

◦ Slowly return to starting position while inhaling

◦ Repeat the exercise with the left arm and right leg

◦ Repeat the exercise until your abdominal muscles begin feeling tired (when you can barely stand doing another starfish crunch!)

◦ Repeat the exercise for 3 to 4 sets, resting 1 minute between sets

Whether you begin with a set of 5, 10, 20, or more starfish crunches, it is important to do more crunches as you become stronger and the exercise becomes easier for you.

"The exercises listed here are best suited for people who have some experience with exercising the core muscles," says Summit Medical Group physical therapist David A. Forelander, MSPT, OCS, CEAS.

"But exercise novices who are receiving guidance from a trainer also can try them."

"If you have never exercised your core muscles before," adds Mr. Forelander, "ask your trainer to go over the exercises with you to be sure you are doing them correctly and safely."

Getting the Most From Your Core Workouts

You may exercise your abdominal muscles as many as 6 days per week, but take at least 1 to 2 days off each week so that your muscles can rest and repair.

Resting and repairing your muscles is an important part of helping them get stronger.

If you are new to exercise, having a few sessions with a personal trainer can help ensure that you are doing your core exercises correctly and safely; but a personal trainer can be helpful at any fitness level.

For example, if you’re new to exercise, a personal trainer can help identify your needs, establish reasonable, safe goals with you, and give you a plan to reach them.

He or she also can show you what equipment to use to strengthen your core and instruct you on how it works.

If you already exercise regularly and want to intensify your abdominal workout for better results, a personal trainer can examine your workout plan and identify ways optimize it.

Even experienced exercisers can benefit from having a trainer correct mistakes, offer new perspectives, and intensify abdominal workouts.

Many elite athletes, for example, regularly use personal trainers to ensure their workouts are efficient and effective.


1. American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Debate. The role of core strengthening for chronic low back pain. Point/Counterpoint. 2011; 3:664-670.

2. Women to Women. Urinary and Pelvic Health. Pelvic floor health — strengthening your core.
http://www.womentowomen.com/urinaryinco ... ealth.aspx. Accessed August 1, 2013.

https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/news ... %20Matter/

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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p

Harvard Health Publishing

The health benefits of tai chi - This gentle form of exercise can help maintain strength, flexibility, and balance, and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.

Published: May, 2009

Updated: August 20, 2019

Tai chi is often described as "meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion."

There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems.

And you can get started even if you aren't in top shape or the best of health.

In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, "white crane spreads its wings" — or martial arts moves, such as "box both ears."

As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations.

Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects.

The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched.

Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.

A growing body of carefully conducted research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age.

An adjunct therapy is one that's used together with primary medical treatments, either to address a disease itself or its primary symptoms, or, more generally, to improve a patient's functioning and quality of life.

Belief systems

You don't need to subscribe to or learn much about tai chi's roots in Chinese philosophy to enjoy its health benefits, but these concepts can help make sense of its approach:

• Qi — an energy force thought to flow through the body; tai chi is said to unblock and encourage the proper flow of qi.

• Yin and yang — opposing elements thought to make up the universe that need to be kept in harmony.

Tai chi is said to promote this balance.

Tai chi in motion

A tai chi class might include these parts:


Easy motions, such as shoulder circles, turning the head from side to side, or rocking back and forth, help you to loosen your muscles and joints and focus on your breath and body.

Instruction and practice of tai chi forms.

Short forms — forms are sets of movements — may include a dozen or fewer movements; long forms may include hundreds.

Different styles require smaller or larger movements.

A short form with smaller, slower movements is usually recommended at the beginning, especially if you're older or not in good condition.

Qigong (or chi kung).

Translated as "breath work" or "energy work," this consists of a few minutes of gentle breathing sometimes combined with movement.

The idea is to help relax the mind and mobilize the body's energy.

Qigong may be practiced standing, sitting, or lying down.

Getting started

The benefits of tai chi are generally greatest if you begin before you develop a chronic illness or functional limitations.

Tai chi is very safe, and no fancy equipment is needed, so it's easy to get started.

Here's some advice for doing so:

Don't be intimidated by the language.

Names like Yang, Wu, and Cheng are given to various branches of tai chi, in honor of people who devised the sets of movements called forms.

Certain programs emphasize the martial arts aspect of tai chi rather than its potential for healing and stress reduction.

In some forms, you learn long sequences of movements, while others involve shorter series and more focus on breathing and meditation.

The name is less important than finding an approach that matches your interests and needs.

Check with your doctor.

If you have a limiting musculoskeletal problem or medical condition — or if you take medications that can make you dizzy or lightheaded — check with your doctor before starting tai chi.

Given its excellent safety record, chances are that you'll be encouraged to try it.

Consider observing and taking a class.

Taking a class may be the best way to learn tai chi.

Seeing a teacher in action, getting feedback, and experiencing the camaraderie of a group are all pluses.

Most teachers will let you observe the class first to see if you feel comfortable with the approach and atmosphere.

Instruction can be individualized.

Ask about classes at your local Y, senior center, or community education center.

If you'd rather learn at home, you can buy or rent videos geared to your interests and fitness needs (see "Selected resources").

Although there are some excellent tai chi books, it can be difficult to appreciate the flow of movements from still photos or illustrations.

Talk to the instructor.

There's no standard training or licensing for tai chi instructors, so you'll need to rely on recommendations from friends or clinicians and, of course, your own judgment.

Look for an experienced teacher who will accommodate individual health concerns or levels of coordination and fitness.

Dress comfortably.

Choose loose-fitting clothes that don't restrict your range of motion.

You can practice barefoot or in lightweight, comfortable, and flexible shoes.

Tai chi shoes are available, but ones you find in your closet will probably work fine.

You'll need shoes that won't slip and can provide enough support to help you balance, but have soles thin enough to allow you to feel the ground.

Running shoes, designed to propel you forward, are usually unsuitable.

Gauge your progress.

Most beginning programs and tai chi interventions tested in medical research last at least 12 weeks, with instruction once or twice a week and practice at home.

By the end of that time, you should know whether you enjoy tai chi, and you may already notice positive physical and psychological changes.

No pain, big gains

Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn't leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning.

Here's some of the evidence:

Muscle strength.

Tai chi can improve both lower-body strength and upper-body strength.

When practiced regularly, tai chi can be comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.

Although you aren't working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body.

Tai chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.


Tai chi can boost upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.


Tai chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls.

Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one's body in space — declines with age.

Tai chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments.

Tai chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble.

Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that tai chi training helps reduce that fear.

Aerobic conditioning.

Depending on the speed and size of the movements, tai chi can provide some aerobic benefits.

If your clinician advises a more intense cardio workout with a higher heart rate than tai chi can offer, you may need something more aerobic as well.

Selected resources

An Introduction to Tai Chi Harvard Health Special Report

Tai Chi Health http://www.taichihealth.com

Tree of Life Tai Chi Center http://www.treeoflifetaichi.com

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying- ... of-tai-chi

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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:40 p

Ji Hong Tai Chi

Tai Chi for Back Pain Prevention & Relief

January 5, 2017 by May Rahnema

The numbers are staggering – one in five – as to how many of us suffer from back pain.

In a recent worldwide, back pain is the cause which most often disables us from enjoying daily living while causing many of our work absences too.

As we age, the poor postures, weak core muscles, and poor use of our bodies or what we call biomechanics catch up with us.

Medication provides temporary relief from back pain while prevention and true relief from lower back pain means we need to be more aware of how we use our body and strengthening our core muscles.

Tai chi is low impact, slower in motion and pain free exercise with huge gains in strengthening the stabilizer muscles of our body’s core as reported in Harvard Health Publications.

When we understand the typical reasons for back pain, we can avoid back muscle strains by strengthening our bodies so these maneuvers are less likely to affect us.

Tai Chi Movements Reinforce Proper Posture and Support for the Spine

You may be practicing poor standing or sitting habits which lead to poor posture.

Do you stand or sit with rounded shoulders, stand with your gut sticking out, slouch when sitting, lean on one leg while standing, stick your chin forward when typing at a computer?

Having any of these and other poor postures causes overuse of some muscles and under use of other muscles.

To return our bodies to proper alignment again, we need to strengthen the muscles weakened by poor posture which are typically the stabilizer muscles of the body.

In tai chi, alignment and posture is fundamental to every movement.

Maintaining the 5 bows structure in our body is one of the key requirements throughout all the movements.

The 5 Bows structure is something each person works to maintain not only when standing still but through a wide variety of motions.

By doing this we re-train our body for proper posture through a spectrum of movements and poses which allows these new found postural habits to carry over into our daily lives.

Tai Chi is a Core Work Out for the Stabilizer Muscles

The 5 Bows structure creates a gentle stretch of our core muscles as well as joints of the vertebrae or spine.

Stretching and strengthening core muscles is necessary for a healthy and happy spine.

Tai chi engages and demands a wide range of muscles to sustain, extend and contract through a wide range of open and closed body positions.

Unlike power muscles, core/stabilizer muscles don’t need to be bulked up with heavy weights used to isolate a specific muscle.

Instead, they need to be challenged in a wide range of positions as a group of muscles.

This is exactly why the slow sustained motions of tai chi are so effective not only for working out our stabilizing core muscles but for burning many calories by using multiple muscles and muscle groups simultaneously.

Practice with Proper Techniques to Avoid Back Injuries

Many back injuries or strains are caused by bending our backs and then twisting, or bending our backs and then lifting.

The core muscle work out of tai chi improves the strength of not only core but the lower body muscle groups as well so that we are better able to bend or rotate appropriately at the pelvis instead of twisting or hyper-extending the back.

The 5 Bows structure maintains our strength, eliminates stress on our joints or vertebrae while engaging the many stabilizer muscles.

By training our bodies to leverage the full support of core muscles, we’re able to avoid many back injuries and live pain free.

Mindfulness & Body Awareness Engages the Body Purposefully

Very often we hurt our backs doing something simple because we are not paying attention to what we’re doing.

Tai chi practice trains our minds to focus on movement.

Our balance improves, our footwork increases in sensitivity and our muscles become ingrained with new movement patterns due to slower sustained motions which culminate in deep learning results.

Not only is focusing in on our bodies and letting go of our daily stresses great for our mental health but unconsciously, our mind and body become more consciously connected when we move in a highly conscious and purposeful way.

After a while, whether we think about it or not, our bodies will use these new connections and patterns unconsciously during daily routines.

Harvard Medical lists tai chi as one of the top exercises for improving balance and proprioception.

Proprioception is the awareness of our body in space.

Awareness is key to avoiding falls and unwanted twists or turns to our back muscles.

Choose Sustained Lower Intensity Exercise to Improve Core Muscles

Many people remain physically inactive for long periods of time and then engage in sudden bursts of workout.

While there may be some value in power burst work outs for weight loss, regular exercise is best for overall health.

When we’ve been sedentary for long periods of time, burst work outs can be a recipe for injuries and muscle strains.

Weak or disengaged core muscles can result in back pain from these sudden bursts of physical activity.

If you want to engage in burst workouts, start by assuring your body is fit enough to engage in sudden and intense work outs.

A good tai chi routine of practicing 2 or 3 times a week is a great basic fitness program or cross-training program for athletes who regularly participate in powerful and highly explosive sports.

It may not provide the burn of a weight training session or an aerobic workout, but after a few weeks, you’ll wonder where you got the sudden burst of power with the same old training program or daily routines.

How does tai chi help to prevent further back pain?

Let’s review the typical core muscles.

They include our diaphragm, pelvic muscles, lower abdominal muscle as well as our small spine muscles.

These are not the muscles we think of when we think of working out to get stronger which is why improving our core strength is somewhat elusive for many of us.

Tai chi involves relaxation of the abdominal muscles which promotes deep, natural breathing to strengthen the diaphragm; focus on initiating movement from our core known as dan tian in tai chi which strengthens abdominal and pelvic floor muscles; and finally, movements which reach up, down, and rotate around the centre axis to stretch and strengthen our small spine muscles in all directions.

With a regular tai chi work out, gain stretch and strength to avoid injuries and relieve back pain, build body awareness as well as improved body mechanics so daily routines remain enjoyable, relaxing and injury free.

Tai chi is undoubtedly one of the best exercises for prevention and relief of back pain.

https://www.taichi.ca/tai-chi-for-physi ... on-relief/

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Post by thelivyjr » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:40 p


Tai Chi for Posture and Back Pain

 
By Robert Humphreys, DC

Updated: 02/19/2004

This content is written by a health professional and blind peer reviewed by a member of our Medical Advisory Board.

Our editorial process ensures content maintains utmost integrity without any bias or commercial influence.

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that has recently been gaining popularity as a way to relieve and/or manage back pain and neck pain.

It is often easy to associate Tai Chi with groups of people in parks or gyms moving slowly and deliberately in synchronization.

These people are using the same Tai Chi principles and movements created in ancient China and still practiced all around the world as a healing exercise.

Basic Elements of Tai Chi

Though the precise origin of Tai Chi is arguable, some facts about its history remain constant.

Tai Chi emulates the motions and ideas behind an ancient Chinese martial art called Tai Chi Quan.

Tai Chi Quan routines required the practitioners to be tranquil and calm, emphasizing slow and soft movements.

Tai Chi is an exercise modified to inherit nearly all the ideas behind Tai Chi Quan, but using the method as a means to attain healing qualities rather than combative awareness.

Unlike other forms of exercise such as yoga, Tai Chi involves a greater degree of movement.

And unlike many types of aerobic exercise (such as running) Tai Chi does not involve any jarring motions that create impact on the spine.

It is a slow and deliberate, flowing movement of the body.

The practice of Tai Chi entails three key components:

• Movement: slow and fluid movements improve the body's alignment, posture, strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and stamina.

Many of these benefits of Tai Chi are consistent with many other forms of low-impact exercise, with the added benefit of focus on improved posture, balance, and alignment.

• Breathing: focused and rhythmical breathing emphasizes a relaxed body and encourages strong circulation.

Oxygenated blood flows to the muscles and brain during Tai Chi.

• Meditation/state of mind: a meditative state of mind during Tai Chi, coupled with these movements and breathing is said to dissipate stress and anxiety, which helps relieve pain caused by psychological and emotional factors.

Benefits of Tai Chi

A number of studies have shown that Tai Chi provides several benefits - physical as well as mental.

And some of the benefits of Tai Chi are enjoyed even when not doing the exercises, such as improved posture throughout the day.

Tai Chi has demonstrated usefulness in the prevention and treatment of certain problems such as back pain.

Importantly, Tai Chi is non-invasive, relatively inexpensive, and gentle on the spine, so many people with back pain are starting to try it as an adjunct to (or sometimes instead of) traditional medical approaches to manage back pain.

Furthermore, Tai Chi does not require any expensive equipment and can be practiced anywhere.


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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:40 p


Tai Chi for Posture and Back Pain
, continued ...
 
By Robert Humphreys, DC

Updated: 02/19/2004

Tai Chi Theory

Tai Chi emphasizes breathing and movement that are both flowing and graceful.

Though its primary action is in the movement and breathing, this must all be carried out with particular mental focus during Tai Chi.

This is why Tai Chi has often been referred to as "meditation in motion."

In theory, Tai Chi directly affects qi - the "vital energy" or "life force" of the body - where proper flow of qi is said to be necessary to maintain health.

During Tai Chi, this energy flows through the body through a network of 20 pathways (meridians from acupuncture).

When these pathways are blocked, qi does not flow properly, and in theory, illness ensues.

Tai Chi is thought to stimulate this flow of qi through the body and organs through its movements and breathing.

Tai Chi can be seen as acupuncture from the inside.

From a more scientific standpoint, Tai Chi is not unlike other forms of low-impact exercises; however, Tai Chi focuses more specifically on posture and alignment.

• Body alignment and posture in Tai Chi

Training the body to avoid slouching and rounding the shoulders through better posture and spinal alignment reduces stress on the components of the spine.

Like other martial arts and exercises, correct form is emphasized through consistent training.

Practicing Tai Chi may therefore reduce the practitioner's back pain through application.

• Balance and coordination in Tai Chi

Transferring of weight from one leg to the other, while extending and retracting limbs, and flexing joints, plays a critical role in improving the balance of the practitioner.

Tai Chi aids in enhancing the coordination of the practitioner by increasing proprioception - the body's automatic perception of movement and spatial orientation through interpreting signals from the muscles, joints, and connective tissues; "position sense."

A heightened position sense acquired through Tai Chi is helpful for preventing an accident that may lead to back pain.

It also helps reduce aggravation of existing back pain by reducing awkward movements.

There has been considerable evidence showing that Tai Chi practiced by the elderly greatly reduces the chances of falls.

• Tone and strength of muscles

As with any other form of physical exercise, Tai Chi provides practitioners with an overall toning and strengthening of specific muscles.

The weight bearing aspects of the Tai Chi exercise have even been shown to stimulate bone growth, which may be beneficial to help prevent osteoporosis.

Many of the Tai Chi movements use the spine as a pivot point, gently flexing both the spine and the muscles around it back and forth and around.

Through repetition of Tai Chi movements, the muscles around the spine, including the abdominals and hamstrings, strengthen and become more flexible, both of which are important to improve posture and reduce back pain.

• Releasing stress and anxiety

Deep, focused breathing in conjunction with related movements of the stomach, chest, diaphragm, and other parts of the body bring the mind into a meditative state.

Tai Chi also intends for the practitioner to seek an "inner stillness" with a clear mind and focus.

This type of Tai Chi action is thought to help release stress, and stress is a factor in causing and/or exacerbating many forms of back pain.


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Post by thelivyjr » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:40 p


Tai Chi for Posture and Back Pain
, concluded ...
 
By Robert Humphreys, DC

Updated: 02/19/2004

Tai Chi Practice

The gentle nature of Tai Chi allows for a wide range of possible practitioners.

For example, people who find high impact aerobics and other exercise routines painful or uncomfortable are excellent candidates for Tai Chi, a slow moving, low-impact exercise.

Unlike other exercises that can be learned simply from following diagrams, Tai Chi is a fluid movement that requires very deliberate and precise movements.

It is therefore best to find an instructor who can demonstrate the Tai Chi movements and techniques.

Tai Chi sessions usually are in a group format and last for approximately an hour.

Beginning with a warm-up, the group learns and follows the Tai Chi motions of a 'form' - a series of movements connected fluidly.

There are different types of forms in Tai Chi, such as, the Yang long form, the Yang short form, and the Wu form, which is more dance-like.

Each Tai Chi form is composed of several postures, each with a carefully chosen name that correlates with its movements - names such as 'Grasping Sparrow's Tail', 'Pushing the Mountain' and 'Embracing the Tiger'.

The Tai Chi session may end with a cool-down.

Each individual Tai Chi movement can be modified to best fit the user.

If a particular motion stresses a problem area, it may be modified or eliminated from the routine.

Once a Tai Chi form has been learned, practitioners can implement the movements and techniques in the privacy of their own homes, or continue in a group environment.

Tai Chi group classes usually cost in the range of $10 - $15 per session.

There are virtually no contraindications for Tai Chi, other than to avoid the sensation of sharp pain.

Because of its gentle nature, safety ultimately has largely to do with a particular instructor and the individual who is practicing Tai Chi.

Taking usual exercise precautions such as warming up, cooling down, and stretching will be beneficial.

As always, it is also important to check with one's treating physician before starting any new exercise program such as Tai Chi.

https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/y ... chi-theory

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