Can Tai Chi Relieve Hip Pain?

There’s an excellent chance that Tai Chi can help your hip pain!

First let’s see what we know about the hip joint. Unlike the knees or elbows, which don’t have a wide range of movement, the hip joints are ball and socket joints. They allow the legs to move relative to the body and enable a wide variety of complex rotations.

Now, let’s look at some common causes of hip pain:

  • Fractures

  • Bursitis

  • Tendonitis

  • Cancer

  • Muscle strain

  • Arthritis

  • Sedentary lifestyle

As we age, the fluid within the joint capsule decreases, which causes friction within the joint. Some exercises, such as running and weightlifting, can also squeeze the fluid out. The good news is that when your practice Tai Chi regularly and correctly, the rotation of the hip socket restores fluid in the joint capsule.

Hip movements should always be initiated by the legs. In other words, the hips remain receptive and passive. We allow them to rotate, but do not force them. Any tension or clenching will prevent clean and smooth rotation, which in turn will cause the body to become tense, the breathing to become shallow and the movement to be stifled or superficial.

According to Sam Masich, a Canadian Tai Chi competitor, the weight of the body passes through a well-positioned hip and directly into the thighs. Without correct hip position, the body will distribute its weight, not into the thighs, but into various other muscles. This also puts stress on the knees.

What about Tai Chi and total hip replacements? After surgery, you need to adhere to the Tai Chi principles of relaxing, keeping the body upright and turning from the hips, within reasonable limits. Pair these principles with clear differentiation between full and empty steps. According to Dr. Carl Hendel, certain movements must be avoided or modified. Be sure to talk to your physician before starting or returning to Tai Chi. Also keep your Tai Chi instructor informed, as correctly practicing Tai Chi will strengthen the tissues and decrease the likelihood of problems.

Our hips are responsible for mobility, power and stability, so go hit that practice floor!