by Hannah Joy on  February 12, 2020 at 12:30 PM Health Watch
  • Tai chi is effective in treating chronic back pain in older adults
  • Tai chi is a graceful form of exercise that is safe for people of all ages
  • Tai chi can also help relieve you from stress, anxiety and depression

Practicing T'ai Chi at a young age can protect you from developing chronic low back pain in adulthood, reveals a new study.

The results of this randomized controlled trial are published in JACM, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, dedicated to paradigm, practice, and policy advancing integrative health.
Tai Chi can Treat Chronic Low Back Pain in Older Adults

Details of the Study

For this study researchers Karen Sherman, PhD and colleagues from Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and University of Washington, Seattle, focused only on adults older than 65. They present their study design and findings in the article entitled "T'ai Chi for Chronic Low Back Pain in Older Adults: A Feasibility Trial."

Participants were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of T'ai Chi, a 12-week health education intervention, or usual care. Measures of recruitment and retention contributed to the determination of feasibility.

Results of the Study

The findings indicate that the study was feasible and had acceptable recruitment, few dropouts, and an excellent safety profile. Among the T'ai Chi participants, 62% attended at least 70% of the classes during the 12-week intervention period.

Remarkably, at 52 weeks, 70% of T'ai Chi participants reported having practiced the week before, with a median of 3 days per week and 15 minutes/session. Both participation and perception of helpfulness were lower in the health education group.

Benefits of Tai Chi
  • Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. A series of movements are performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.
  • Tai chi helps in reducing pain, stress, anxiety and depression, as it's a form of 'meditation in motion.'
  • Tai chi is safe for people of all ages and has shown to be effective in improving chronic back pain in older adults.

"More research is needed on treatments for chronic low back pain in older adults," Dr. Sherman summarizes. "Our study showed that it's feasible to do a clinical trial of T'ai Chi for this condition."

JACM Editor-in-Chief John Weeks,, Seattle, WA, states: "Many of us have become familiar with pictures of large groups of older people in China or Hong Kong practicing T'ai Chi together. Dr. Sherman's work suggests that older adults here in the United States may similarly find such practices acceptable and useful."

Source: Eurekalert

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