Taiji vs chronic hip pain

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lpboyle
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Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by lpboyle » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:42 pm

I've actually been avoiding asking this here because of not being certain of how to phrase the question. Anyway, I started to practice the 37 CMC form of taiji back in September of '08. Last July I was bicycling to work and was run off the road by a car, ever since I've had chronic pain in my left hip. Now this has gone through a number of diagnoses, and that's not what I am asking for. Anyway, the latest theory of my doctor is that the pain is caused by a permanent muscle spasm in my hip. Doing my own research it seems that the most likely culprit is the Iliopsoas muscle. This muscle is the combination of the Iliacus muscle and the psoas muscle.

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Now, although I have to use a cane for walking I can do form with out assistance and have been continuing my taiji practice to help improve my damaged hip. Therefore, my question is are - there any particular postures that provide more benefit to this area? My thought is that standing practice using a posture that provides stretch to this muscle group might be of great benefit in this situation.

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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Apr 29, 2010 5:24 am

I think of taijiquan as a "general tonic" when it comes to the health aspect. It's like eating right, it won't cure cancer, but it helps keep you genreally healthy. When you have specific injury, practicing taijiquan may help heal that injury, but you will also very likely need specific treatment for that injury. I suggest you find a good Chinese sports medicine doctor to help get the injured area back on the road to health.

lpboyle
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by lpboyle » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:14 am

Thank you Laoshi. I've looked for some Chinese doctors in the area but haven't found much. I'm also a bit limited in my choices because for the most part my healthcare has to go through the Veteran's Administration Health Care system. I have recently (about a week ago) found a chiropractor who treats veterans for free (VA health in my area doesn't cover chiropractic) and has been helping to provide specific treatment for my hip and lower back (degenerated, bulging, disk at the L5-S1 point). He is familiar with both taiji's health benefits and the hatha voga I also practice. This has my hopes up. He does stress for me to continue with taiji and yoga practice as religiously as possible, which is much more understanding than I get from the VA.

Psi Man
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by Psi Man » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:45 pm

Doing the form over and over and holding each posture, zhuan-zhuang style, for several minutes each, is some of the best practice you'll get, injury or not. While acupuncture and massage are extremely helpful, they will not rebuild lost muscle groups. They are more for helping to relieve chronic tension and pain. TJQ and zhang-zhuan practice will allow you to maintain that relief.

Physical therapy is meant to rehabilitate muscles that have been weakened by injury and a good physical therapist is well-versed in creating a healthy, gradual stretching curriculum for patients. Practicing too many diverse disciplines simultaneously can over-stress the body, in my experience. We need a long period of time to adapt to the postures we're learning, and different postures from different disciplines have their own goals and criteria for the body.

I've had a number of severe back problems at a young age, and while some of them have been diagnosed accurately, some have never been pinpointed and so I simply ignore them. If your doctors can't agree on a diagnosis then it could be any of a variety of things, or a problem that is not yet severe enough to be easily visible. Did this injury in of itself cause you to need a cane?

Best of luck

lpboyle
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by lpboyle » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:33 pm

Yes Psi Man this injury was what caused me to need a cane. I'll try what you suggest with holding each posture of the form for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, I was only ever given a single month of physical therapy during the time of my many mis-diagnoses and the VA has not thought to send me back. Taiji seems to be doing more for me anyway, so I'll just keep practicing :wink:

jotrakoun
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by jotrakoun » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:31 am

In Robert Smith's book Chinese Boxing, it is said that practicing the Repulse Monkey posture repeatedly is said to be beneficial for energy flow past the sacrum, the "large, triangular bone at the base of the spine and at the upper and back part of the pelvic cavity, where it is inserted like a wedge between the two hip bones." (Wikipedia :) ), particularly when the feet are aligned so that it looks like they are walking parallel on train tracks, which is the modification in the 37 form. Maybe it'll help your hip pain?

lpboyle
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by lpboyle » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:47 am

jotrakoun wrote:In Robert Smith's book Chinese Boxing, it is said that practicing the Repulse Monkey posture repeatedly is said to be beneficial for energy flow past the sacrum, the "large, triangular bone at the base of the spine and at the upper and back part of the pelvic cavity, where it is inserted like a wedge between the two hip bones." (Wikipedia :) ), particularly when the feet are aligned so that it looks like they are walking parallel on train tracks, which is the modification in the 37 form. Maybe it'll help your hip pain?
I started another thread about picking up a book about Zhang Zuang training. What I may do is try that same training with Repulse Monkey for a few days and see what it does for me.

Psi Man
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by Psi Man » Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:04 pm

Hmm, yeah I feel your pain on multiple levels, LP. I have lousy insurance and can't really afford physical therapy. For myself, I simply try to get them to give me written instructions for good core and back strength exercises which will help support my spine. For the normal person, I'd imagine core exercises just get in the way of softness and proper Taiji practices, but personally core strengthening has become a necessity.

And yeah, I second Jotrakoun's sentiments: "repulse monkey" and "cloud hands" are totally awesome movements which both open the lower-back but are also monster qi generators. I like to do extra practice with these movements focusing on fang-song.

lpboyle
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by lpboyle » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:15 pm

I have heard that, so this is something I will definitely be trying. I also practice some Hatha Yoga and have thought of using some of the various asanas for fang song practice which would have me holding the postures much longer than the standard yogic guidelines. (Have not actually tried this yet) As for core strengthening that has become a necessity with this (now chronic) injury. I have found that some of the conditioning exercises from my wife's Middle Eastern Dance DVD's actually seem to strengthen and help open many of the same joints and areas that we focus on in taijiquan. In particular there is a pilates squat variant exercise in one of those routines that seems exceptionally effective at both opening and strengthening the Kua.

Since my main focus is the CMC 37 form my main idea is to use only the Zhang Zuang Kung basic stances (Wuji, Hold the Belly, Hold the Ball, Opening outwards, Extend to the sides [this is very much the same posture as the "home" position in MED], and Sealing the Energy [wuji with the hands covering the Dantian]) since the postures in the book I have are largely draw from the Da Cheng Chuan (spell?) system. For the advanced practice that is attached to this I would be substituting stances from the CMC form for the Da Cheng Chuan (again spell? I don't have to book in front of me right now) postures.

Since "Repulse Monkey" has been strongly suggested I believe that will be among the first that I shall be using along with "Cloud-Hands" and "Lifting Hands" with the weight on my bad leg to regain more of the strength that it has lost. So the plan will probably end up looking something like this:
1. Sun Salutation warm up (Anusara Hatha Yoga) (app 5 min)
2. 37 form
3. Core strengthening (traditional calisthenics plus some pilates - very short duration)
4. Wuji 5min
5. Hold the Belly 5min
6. Hold the Ball (Hug the Tree) 5min
7. Extend to the Sides 5min
8. Opening Outwards 5min
9. 37 form
10. Repulse Monkey 5min
11. Cloud Hands 10 min (5 each side)
12. Lifting Hands 5 min
13. 37 form
14. Sealing Energy

Total Time= my usual app 90 min morning routine

Now the question of if I can keep myself to these lofty goals has yet to be determined, but with any luck this should help my bad hip and back. I'll let y'all know how well it works after I can try it for awhile.

(* modified because while I have decent grammar in real life, apparently my typing is not quite as good.*)

Psi Man
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by Psi Man » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:39 pm

That looks awesome, dude! Let us know the results.

lpboyle
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by lpboyle » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:07 am

Well so far I've been able to try this once (dealing with too much non-taiji stuff the last few days - I need taiji stress is kicking my backside right now) and it seemed to cause as serious case of "Jello Legs" although I was able to keep my weight centered around the bubbling well behind my big toe for all the static postures. Next week looks like things will calm down a bit so I can try this more and get my daily practice (actually only four days a week, my days off I do a partnered hatha yoga routine with my wife) going more consistently.

lpboyle
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Re: Taiji vs chronic hip pain

Post by lpboyle » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:20 pm

Okay, I've been doing the routine I posted earlier with the following modification - I replaced the Yogic sun salutation with a custom routine I developed from some research and consultations that is designed specifically for the taijiquan player. I have noticed the following results: 1. I'm walking a heck of a lot better and with less pain. 2. I've started walking "in stance" without even thinking about it. Without realizing I found I was walking keeping my feet at shoulder's width, feet pointed straight ahead instead of turned slightly out (normal gait), and keeping the connection to the "bubbling well" point which is contrary to how I've been walking most of my life. 3. According to my wife and the four year old there is an extra amount of of force and strength in all my movements throughout the day. 4. When I first started practicing taijiquan I noticed that when I did form I would salivate more than at any other time. It was explained to me that this resulted from Chi condensing at the Nei-Wan point after traveling up my spine and was a good sign in practice. After a while this stopped happening. Now, the phenomena has started again along with a much stronger feeling of heat in the palms as I practice. All of which I have been told are signs of correct practice and chi movement.

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