Effects of tai chi on pain and muscle activity in young males with acute low back pain

J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 May;26(5):679-81. doi: 10.1589/jpts.26.679. Epub 2014 May 29.


[Purpose] This study was to examine the effects of tai chi on low back pain in young males. [Subjects and Methods] Forty males in their 20s with low back pain were randomly assigned to two groups. Tai chi was applied to one group, and stretching was applied to the other group. The subjects conducted exercise for one hour, three times per week for four weeks. They performed warm-up exercises for 10 min at the beginning and end of the sessions and conducted the main exercise for 40 minutes. Wireless surface electromyography (sEMG) and a visual analogue scale (VAS) were employed to measure muscle activity and pain, respectively. [Results] There were significant differences between the two groups in pain and muscle activity. The tai chi group's VAS decreased from 3.1 to 2.1, and its muscle activity decreased from 21.5% maximum voluntary isomeric contraction (MVIC) to 16.4% MVIC. The stretching group's VAS decreased from 3.4 to 2.8, and its muscle activity decreased from 24.1% MVIC to 22.1% MVIC. [Conclusion] Tai chi is more effective for low back pain in males in their 20s than stretching. Tai chi can be considered an effective method to reduce low back pain in males in their 20s.

Keywords: SEMG; Tai chi.