If you’re dealing with the pain of arthritis, the last recommendation you may expect to hear is to try the martial arts practice of Qi Gong.
But, that’s not so far-fetched and it’s being suggested more and more by caregivers—not as a way to take away the pain, but as a method for dealing with it.
“With Qi Gong, it’s not about curing or taking away pain but learning to move through it,” says Deborah Magallanes, a Qi Gong Master with Wudang Mountain Institute. “We help people find peace even in the hurt.”
Qi Gong (pronounced "chee-gong") has its roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts and philosophy.
At its core, Qi Gong is the practice of rhythmic breathing, gentle movements, concentration, visualization and relaxation.
While not intended to replace medical care, it’s become a helpful way for people to deal with the symptoms of a variety of ailments, such as arthritis, back pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, stress or depression, and even menopause.
For example, Deborah says Qi Gong can help women in the midst of menopause bring back a sense of balance when changing hormones are making them feel anything but.
She’s also seen Qi Gong also help make discomfort more bearable, loosen up the muscles and joints, and improve concentration.
While not classified as a therapy or medical treatment option, Qi Gong is becoming considered to be an effective part of an integrated care plan.
“As you see a doctor and receive medical care, it’s also important to pay attention to the relationship between your body and emotions and mental state,” Deborah says. “Qi Gong helps accomplish that.”
And because Qi Gong can be done sitting, standing or lying down, it is suitable for all ages.
From simple movements to more complex ones, Qi Gong can be tailored to individual needs, making it an ideal aid to recovery from illness or injury.
A review of scientific literature published in the American Journal of Health Promotion suggests that there is strong evidence for the health benefits of Qi Gong (as well as Tai Chi), including for bone density, cardiopulmonary fitness, balance, immune function, and quality of life.
“The breathing, movements and purposeful focus all help to relax, strengthen and stretch the body, which in turn, improves respiration and increases blood flow, among other effects,” Deborah explains.
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