It is strange to think that an ancient Chinese practice can help people who suffer from the very modern condition known as whiplash.
Whiplash describes the injury resulting from the head suddenly jerking backwards; injuring the neck and the shoulders.
It often results from a car accident and research suggests that 50 per cent of people with whiplash injuries still suffer a year after the accident.
No Win No Fee solicitors Claims Direct can help people who have suffered a whiplash injury make a personal injury claim if the accident happened through no fault of their own.
Claims Direct also helps support people throughout the rehabilitation process and ensure that they get the treatment they need.
And there is growing belief that Qi gong (pronounced che gong), a form of tai-chi, can be extremely beneficial to whiplash sufferers.
Leading GP Dr Martin Scurr, writing in the Good Health section of the Daily Mail on July 12th 2011, commented: "There is evidence to suggest that Qi gong, a form of tai-chi, produces improvement in the long term. I am frequently surprised by how many whiplash patients end up practicing this, and I sense that it can be of great value."
Jeremy Marshall certainly agrees with this statement. Jeremy, 35, has been practicing Qi gong for 13 years and teaches this healthcare system in Brighton.
I interviewed Jeremy to find out more about Qi gong and how it can help people with whiplash.
Q: Can you tell me a little about what Qi gong involves?
JM: Qi gong is all about maintaining good health or recovering from illness. Movements are performed slowly, with awareness, and by regulating the body, breath and mind. Introduce breathing movements can move you closer to the feeling of tranquillity and stillness which is the essence of Qi gong. As society has become more complex and demanding people crave good health and well-being even more – a desire which has led to a noticeable rise in the popularity of Qi gong.
Q: Do you think that Qi gong can help people with whiplash injuries?
JM: Yes, I do. I can give people very basic (and gentle) rolling-the-neck and nodding-the-head exercises which can help them relax the neck and re-align the vertebrae. Equally importantly, Qi gong can help people learn to relax and let go of the fear of hurting their neck and shoulders again. People who have suffered a whiplash injury can have a natural instinct to try and avoid moving their neck – hence the ‘funnels' which you see people wearing around their neck to limit mobility. But it can be essential to move your neck again in order to recover from injuries. Reducing stress and fear through Qi gong really can help people do this.
Q: Are there any specific breathing exercises for people with whiplash?
JM: People with whiplash injuries can benefit from breathing from the belly and the diaphragm. This is how you breathe when you sleep. When you are stressed your shoulders and neck tend to rise so you can find yourself taking shallower breaths – something which will not help the pain in these areas and will not help you combat stress. The less stress you have, the more open you will be to healing processes.
Q: Jeremy, you also practice acupuncture. How beneficial can acupuncture be to people with whiplash?
JM: Acupuncture can be very beneficial to people with neck injuries. Acupuncture needles can help release tightness in muscles and focus the immune system, which is so vital for healing, on one area. It is often a good idea for people with whiplash injuries to have acupuncture first to help repair damage and then introduce them to Qi gong – something they can practice at home to speed up the healing process even more.