Last week we shared a story on how yoga may be helpful for individuals with low back pain. Today, we’re learning of new research out of Harvard that suggests another form of low-intensity exercise may be beneficial for people with chronic neck pain.
To better understand the benefits of the ancient martial arts technique, researchers gathered a group of 114 individuals who were at least 18 years old and who suffered from nonspecific chronic neck pain for at least three months. Half of the group was asked to participate in regular Tai Chi classes for a period of 12 weeks, while the other half acted as the control group.
It may not sound shocking that individuals in the Tai Chi group had better outcomes than individuals who did nothing to improve their condition, but that’s what researchers discovered.
“The study showed that 12 weeks of Tai Chi was more effective than no treatment to improve pain, disability, quality of life and postural control in persons with chronic neck pain,” said Peter M Wayne, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in the US.
Something Better Than Nothing
The news about Tai Chi having benefits for neck pain isn’t revolutionary, but it speaks to the larger point we try to express to our patients – that you need to put in the work if you want to take control of your pain. Your pain isn’t going to resolve simply by sitting down and popping a pill, you’re going to need to take an active role in pain management.
The researchers went on to say that Tai Chi was no better or worse for chronic neck pain than targeted neck exercises, but it again stresses the importance of strengthening your body to fight back against pain. As we’ve said before, there is no magic pill for chronic pain, and that holds true here. Even low intensity workouts can have amazing physical and psychological benefits. Don’t just hope your neck pain resolves, attack it head on.