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Qigong Helps Neck Pain

Qigong is as effective as exercise therapy for alleviating long-term, nonspecific neck pain, according to a small study published in the October 15 issue of Spine (2007; 32, 2415-22). A wellness practice from Chinese medicine, qigong uses slow movements, breathing exercises and meditation to improve the flow of qi, or life energy. The aim is to restore balance in body, mind and spirit. “Exercise therapy” in this study consisted of stretching, strengthening and mobility moves.

Researchers in Sweden divided 122 patients with long-term, nonspecific neck pain into two groups: qigong or exercise therapy. Subjects’ average age was 44 years. Both groups received 12 sessions over a 3-month period. Investigators measured improvement immediately after treatment and at 6- and 12-month follow-up appointments. All participants experienced similar reductions in pain.

Readers should note the study’s limitations: its small size, lack of a control group, lack of a precise diagnosis for neck pain and lack of blinding (i.e., researchers knew which group each subject was in).

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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