Tai Chi for IBS
Recently, I explored what exercises are best for IBS on this blog. Not surprisingly (as confirmed by my personal experience), intense, prolonged and high impact exercises tended to aggravate IBS. Conversely, gentle lower impact exercises done sparingly – such as walking, swimming and yoga – had more benefits for IBS.
Low impact exercises for IBS
I do a lot of walking and I love to swim, though I often only swim during the warmer months as I am very susceptible to temperature fluctuations. I used to do a fair amount of yoga, but I noticed for all of the benefits I experienced with my practice, I also injured myself often as well. I later found out I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that makes me prone to injury and premature damage in my body. In other words, yoga is not ideal for that condition, so I sadly had to give it up.
What is tai chi?
This doesn't leave a lot of exercise options, but I did rediscover tai chi when I partook in a six-week intensive chronic pain rehab program the summer before last. During the program, we did tai chi a couple of times a week.
Tai chi is more about gentle movements that increase flow and balance in the body, as opposed to stretching and strengthening (though it can help subtly strengthen the body as well when done correctly and consistently). Additionally, tai chi also boosts mindfulness and has a meditative quality that can lessen stress and ease anxiety (both potent contributors to IBS symptoms).
Finally, tai chi also emphasizes deep and careful breathing, which not only also has anti-anxiety benefits, but can increase circulation--another plus for IBS sufferers.
Starting tai chi again soon
While I've gotten a bit out of the habit since exiting that program, I do intend to start doing tai chi again regularly soon and may even join a program to keep me disciplined in the practice.
Have you tried tai chi for IBS (or another reason)? Did it help your IBS? Please answer in the comments below!
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?