Qigong/Taichi and Arthritis – Prevention and Healing

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Arthritis is such a common health issue and I meant to address this in Qigong and Taichi practice long ago. Both Qigong and Taichi practice can greatly help the arthritis condition. Also, there are somethings that we can pay attention to in our daily life to avoid worsening the situation, or even to prevent the arthritis from happening at the first place.

When google the word ‘arthritis’, it says: from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation; plural: arthritides, is a group of conditions involving damage to the joints of the body. So basically it is a descriptive phrase for the symptom. The Chinese translation of the word ‘arthritis’ is ‘wind and damp’. It is directly telling the cause of arthritis.

As I write this, I thought of a friend of mine who I have lost contact with for a long while. She was among the a few people I met when I first came to Hawaii in 1996. She is very athletic, her body looks strong and muscular. She and her husband live in their beach house, morning and evening swimming is her daily must do. She also practices Taichi and follows very healthy diet. Not long ago, I run into a mutual friend and was told that she is now mostly in a wheelchair, suffering from very bad arthritis. I was very sad to hear the news, and I kept hearing the words ‘wind and damp’, which is a constant factor in her life style.

Chinese medicine considers the mixture of ‘wind, cold, damp Qi’ tangling within human body, especially joint parts, the cause of arthritis. So common treatments for arthritis of Chinese medicine mainly focus on improving the immune system of the human body through herbs, acupuncture, food, etc, and cleaning through cupping, moxibustion, herbs, etc. Our body is like a kingdom, when it is invaded by enemies, stronger army is needed to drive the enemies out of the kingdom. In our body, that ‘army’ is our immune system. As we age, our immune system weakens, so the enemies get in the kingdom and even make home there. That also explains why normally kids do not get arthritis when being exposed in the same physical environment.

Also, as anything else, there is a process of accumulation. I am now thinking about my friend that I mentioned above again. I do believe that being in the same life environment and having her life style for so many years greatly contributed to her serious arthritis condition today.

So with the above said, how can Qigong and Taichi help with arthritis? If you have not realized the fact that Qigong and Taichi help healing our system through improving our immune system (given that they are practiced correctly), it is the time to realize that now. Stronger flow of qi relies on strengthened immune system, when the ‘army’ gets stronger, it will gain the power of driving the ‘enemies’ out of the ‘kingdom’. It is that simple.

Often there are people asking me about how to compare Qigong and Taichi and their benefits. My answer is that they are both wonderful tools for our healthy being, but for healing in general, Qigong is more direct and generates much faster results. For healing arthritis, my personal feeling is that it is helpful to practice both at the same time. When there are so many teachings out there nowadays for both Qigong and Taichi, the healing effects of different methods vary. For Taichi practitioners of many years who have no concept or experience of Qi, I am not too hopeful about how much their practice can heal. But it is at least great exercise.

Healing arthritis (and other conditions also) through Qigong and Taichi relies greatly on persistent practice. Without persistence, no matter how wonderful and effective a teaching is, no or little result will show. It is very fair. I have known many people from the past who have healed themselves from arthritis through practicing Qigong, especially Jingang Qigong that I share in classes. But again, sincere attitude and persistence is the key.

Now some tips that I can think of on what we can do in our daily life to prevent arthritis and/or control the condition after the arthritis has already showed up:

- Stay away from damp wind. This does not have to be something to kill the fun of enjoying the beach. Just remember to cover yourself more when sitting on the beach, especially in windy days. When you swim, be sure you do not get in the water with an empty stomach. Just being more mindful about this when having fun.

- Not over work yourself. Rest enough, ensure sleep quality. Keep giving the body what it needs.

- Be very careful when using different joints. More mindfulness will help prevent injury. From certain perspectives, injury at the joint parts can provide an inviting environment for arthritis.

- Stay warm all the time. Get rid of wet clothes as soon as possible after sweating (from either exercising or just hot weather).

- In hot weather, it is very easy for us to look for cool/cold things to eat and place to stay. Be more aware that often the ice water and cold AC is not doing us a favor.

- Not staying in one same posture for a long time. Remind yourself of a good healthy posture through the day (we go through the posture adjustment every single class, for both Qigong and Taichi).

- Whenever you can, rub your hands until the palms are hot and then put the hot palms on the joints. This should help the circulation and ease the pain, if there is any.

- Be happy! Having a positive attitude and being happy plays a very important role in our overall good health, preventing and healing arthritis also needs our happy attitude. Do appreciate what we have and treat everything in life an opportunity to learn.

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