Why all the bad backs and joint pains all of a sudden?

Friday, 7 March 2014
by Julia Biggs

Have you noticed how everybody seems to be going down with bad backs at the moment? Ankle injuries? Other joint problems? It’s not just coincidence.

We’re coming to the end of Winter. Spring is almost here. It’s a time of change. And as the seasons and weather shift, our bodies also go through their own upheaval.

Our energetic balance is shifting (more reason than ever to ground yourself with some solidly rooted Tai Chi practice or strengthening work!). It’s at this transition time that imbalances in our chi flow often show themselves.

So why the bad backs specifically? In Chinese Medicine (of which Tai Chi is a major pillar of course), Winter is when our Kidney and Bladder energies are predominant. The Kidney channel starts on the underside of the foot, runs up the inside of the legs through the ankles and knees and then up the front of the chest. The Bladder channel, the longest in the body, starts on the outside of the foot and runs up the legs to dominate the back.

A long Winter can deplete Kidney and Bladder chi, making our backs more vulnerable to injury as the season comes to an end.

Cold and damp weather – and we’ve had plenty of that! – can also take its toll, invading the channels, causing pain and stiffness. (In China, people will often wear a silk scarf wrapped around the lower back through winter to keep the cold out). Other signs your Kidney or Bladder chi may be out of balance are sore knees, frequent urination, falling hair.

Now Spring is in the air, the time of the Liver and Gallbladder energy. In Chinese Medicine, the Liver dominates the joints and tendons, so imbalance in this energy will soon make itself felt.

Again, ankle problems? Liver channel. Bad hips? Usually a sign your Gallbladder energy needs working on.

Other symptoms of Liver/Gallbladder chi imbalance include headaches, eye problems, any pain that moves around or comes and goes, tendency to cramp, irritability, high blood pressure and a lot more.