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.
So what’s the best way to stay healthy and fit in different seasons?
Firstly, practising your White Crane forms! Tai Chi really strengthens your Water energy, the root of all energy in the body. While every move of the form is designed to mobilise and benefit different organs and channels. Similarly with Kung Fu.
Diet has an effect – different foods affect different organs and energies in the body. It’s one of the reasons it’s good to eat fresh foods when they’re in season. So make sure you get your Spring Greens over the next few months – your joints will thank you for it!
Acupuncture (another pillar of Chinese Medicine) is great for bad backs and joint problems as well as many other conditions. It helps to move stuck chi and strengthen deficiencies. General rebalancing via acupuncture is also preventative, stopping problems before they start.
See you in class for some chi therapy!