Stiffness causes pain, and there are a lot of activities in life that make your body stiff. Working at a computer for long hours, carrying boxes all day long, or even carrying a child around can all cause your body to become stiff.
The flowing movements of Tai Chi help relax and soften your muscles.
Tai Chi does a great job of relieving pain by loosening up muscles, especially those of the upper body. You can relax your neck, shoulder, and fix your back pain with Tai Chi.
When you flow in the Tai Chi movements, your connective tissues unbind, for example, to work on your neck and shoulders. You open the soft tissues around the shoulder blades and within the armpit.
When I get tired from sitting around too much at my desk, I get up and open up the chest by moving my shoulder blades forward and back. As I move my arms forward, I close the chest. As I move them back, I open the chest and my armpits.
This is a great stretching exercise because moving your shoulders, especially the shoulder blades continuously increases your blood flow and flexibility. It also increases blood flow to your ribs and upper back. If you don’t move your shoulder blades, or if they’re restricted in some manner, such as while sitting at a desk, then this may cause neck and shoulder problems.
Tai Chi movements make your back strong and they help maintain the elasticity of the ligaments and fascia that hold up your entire body and spine together. The support of the spine is very important as it keeps your vertebrae in alignment which reduces the risk of causing back pain.
How do you soften and relax muscles to relieve stiffness and pain?
You do this by simply stretching. The best way to stretch is by doing Tai Chi practice.
Do this practice by gently letting go of tension in your muscles. Letting go of tension, combined with the slow-motion of Tai Chi gradually stretches the body. It’s very different from the pushing and forcing of the muscles and muscle fibers that other exercises promote. These strenuous exercises also focus on stretching the larger muscles. Tai Chi works on stretching all things from your fascia to tissues, including the smallest of muscles in your body.
It stretches your entire body using very efficient mechanisms. The twisting and turning mechanisms of Tai Chi are all working together to make your body elastic. These mechanisms include smooth circular motions. Moving in smooth circular motions is very important because it gets to every point of the body and covers every angle and position. When you’ve covered everything in your circle of influence, then you can rest.
You can also soften the quality of your mind and body by relaxing the mind and letting go.
You have to get yourself into the natural state of yin to let go and become soft, in all things. Letting go is a form of stretching. Allow gravity to stretch your mind and body. Use gravity to naturally pull the muscles and fascia of the body. When you use gravity, you are not using force. Instead, you are allowing the sinking of your body down to the ground. The result is you becoming rooted into the earth.
You can also stretch with Tai Chi by mentally releasing any sense of strength or tension stored in your nerves. Tai Chi is very much about using your mind to create your reality of being pleasant and comfortable. Use your mind to do things with ease. Make it a part of your daily routine, like squatting, and bending down to pick something up. Do the waist turning with ease in the Tai Chi form to help you release tension. As you turn your waist, the movement stretches the hip muscles, the underside of the pelvis, and your buttocks. These muscles hold up your spine and they move your spine.
It’s very important to work out your muscles by stretching them naturally. Stretch by shifting your body weight – shift from right to left, shift your weight from front to back, or shift by moving side to side. Shifting your weight stretches all the muscles of the lower back, legs, and your feet.
Finally, you can stretch by reaching out with your fingers. As you reach out with your fingers in Tai Chi, you are effectively drawing out and pulling all the muscles in the back. The back muscles are being led by the fingers. The muscles are engaged from your arms to your shoulders and all the way to your back. You’re effectively moving your muscles and tissues from your spine through your fingers.
It’s important to note that you can stretch in two ways:
1. You stretch externally by physically making your stance longer or deeper, and do the physical exercises we described.
2. You stretch internally by relaxing deeply with your mind. Your mind then works on the connections with your body – the connective tissues of the spine, diaphragm, and internal organs. Relax deeply and sink your entire body. Let go of your muscles and ligaments. By relaxing deeply, you release your muscles and ligaments where they attach to your bones or joints. Your tissues are stretching within the abdominal cavity as well.
Don’t forget that deep breathing helps to soften your muscles such as your hip and pelvic muscles. By breathing deeply, you increase the blood flow to these muscles.
What if by stretching, you can reduce your pain and accelerate your healing rate?
Follow me on YouTube to learn more ways to be gentle with yourself. Learn to be aware of your limitations as well. How do you learn to be aware of your limitations? Stay tuned and find out in another video.