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Chronic Pain and Taoist Tai Chi® arts

If you have chronic or recurrent pain, you know that it can deeply affect your enjoyment of life. The physical and psychological damage the pain causes can result in reduced mobility, flexibility, strength and endurance. It can also contribute to hypertension, insomnia, depression, stress and anxiety, and even social isolation. The pain can affect your ability to manage tasks, to work and to have good relationships with friends and family.

Chronic pain can be caused by many diagnosable conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer, trauma, and nerve problems. Many people also experience undifferentiated chronic pain which can appear anywhere in the body.

Fortunately, research and anecdotal evidence shows that Tai Chi helps people who suffer with chronic pain. With Taoist Tai Chi® practice many find they can reduce pain, increase energy and move more freely. In addition, people practicing Taoist Tai Chi® arts find they have better balance, strength and flexibility, better sleep and a feeling of lightness and well-being.

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One Person’s Remarkable Story of Chronic Pain Relief

Hello, my name is Sheila. Before I started Taoist Tai Chi® arts I had pain everywhere. I couldn’t walk, sit or sleep for more than two hours. I took medications in order to be part of life but they had side effects I didn’t like. I started my Taoist Tai Chi® practice because it is natural and it has now become my “drug of choice”. It didn’t happen right away but slowly I began to have moments of being pain free and these moments kept expanding. Pain stopped defining me! I feel with Taoist Tai Chi® arts that I come alive and I experience joy. I didn’t know what joy felt like before!

– Sheila, North Vancouver, Canada



Research: Tai Chi and Pain

Excellent evidence that regular Tai Chi is effective in reducing pain in a number of chronic conditions.

In this literature review of the benefits of Tai Chi for 25 specific conditions, pain reduction was found to be a consistent outcome in conditions associated with chronic pain such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic lower back pain, and musculoskeletal pain conditions.

Huston, P. and McFarlane, B. (2016). Health benefits of tai chi: What is the evidence? Canadian Family Physician, 62, 881-90.

Regular Tai Chi practice has consistent effects on pain reduction and management.

In this meta-analysis the authors found that regular tai chi practice was associated with reduced pain for a variety of conditions and that patients “experienced improvements in the ability to manage pain after participating in Tai Chi”. Patient-reported outcomes also showed that Tai Chi had a consistent effect for the reduction of pain.

Jahnke, R., et. al. (2010). A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. The American Journal of Health Promotion, 24(6), 1-25.

Tai Chi is an effective holistic treatment for musculoskeletal pain.

This study showed reduced pain overall as well as “improvement in… current level of pain intensity.” “Tai Chi is an acceptable, holistic treatment for individuals with musculoskeletal pain and posttraumatic stress disorder. It may reduce pain, improve emotion, memory, and physical function.”

Tsai, PF., et. al. (2018). Tai chi for posttraumatic stress disorder and chronic musculoskeletal pain: A pilot study. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 36(2), 147-158.

Regular Tai Chi practice reduces pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health report the findings from a number of studies that all support the pain-relieving qualities of Tai Chi. For example, a report on studies of knee osteoarthritis found Tai Chi reduced pain and improved knee function in patients who practiced for longer periods of time. Studies of fibromyalgia and Tai Chi also found similar results: that Tai Chi practice was associated with reduced pain and the ability to work through discomfort.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016). Tai chi and qi going: In depth.

What are practitioners who manage chronic pain saying about Taoist Tai Chi® arts?

“It changed my life. After two months of Taoist Tai Chi® practice – no more back pain! This is after ten years of chronic pain.”

– Mac, Vancouver, Canada

“Muscle pain in neck and shoulder relieved – I have the tools to help if pain or discomfort begin again! Positive energy!”

– Margaret, St Catharines, Canada


“I had frequent episodes of lumbar back pain after 40 years of nursing… I no longer have any pain or mobility limitation after one year of Taoist Tai Chi® arts.”

– Karen, Amherstburg, Canada

“Pain less, sleeping better, more energy, attitude positive, no meds, feel younger!”

– Marlene, St Catharines, Canada


“Taoist Tai Chi® practice has taught me to not be afraid of pain. I can carry on.”

– Lisa, Gibsons, Canada


“Going to class is a great pain killer and aids in the prevention of depression. Gives me hope.”

– Jane, Chiltern, UK


“Tight and sore neck and chest muscles have gradually relaxed. Pain is no longer constant!”

– Janet, St Catharines, Canada


“I had an anterior/posterior fusion 22 years ago. I used Taoist Tai Chi® arts as a recovery tool. Six months later I was back to work full time, doing my Taoist Tai Chi® practice. No need for additional pain prescriptions. Adhesions in my abdomen disappeared (adhesions resulted from 3 C-sections and hernia surgery). I have also kept arthritis in control with minimal prescription or over-the-counter medications.”

– Sylvia, Burlington, Canada

“I was experiencing pain walking up and down stairs and going from sitting to standing. These issues are currently minimal and infrequent and when I do danyus before bed I even avoid morning stiffness.”

– Valerie, Newmarket, Canada

“I started for back problems and I have now been pain free for eleven years. I often forget that I had a stroke last December. I have regained 100% of the mental and physical loss through Taoist Tai Chi® practice!”

– Dave, St. Catharines, Canada


How does Taoist Tai Chi® practice help?

Taoist Tai Chi® arts involve a full range of motion with deep stretching and continuous turning of the spine. They exercise the whole physiology including muscular, skeletal, and circulatory systems, as well as tendons, joints, connective tissue and organs. This whole body approach has a profound effect on our health, increasing strength, flexibility and resilience, whatever our condition.

Taoist Tai Chi® arts are also a form of moving meditation that has a deep effect on the brain, calming and clearing the mind.

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