This theory is very simple. Your entire body is made up of living cells. When these cells receive the proper qi supply, they will function normally and even repair themselves. However, if the qi supply is abnormal and this condition persists, then even though the cells were originally healthy, they will become damaged or changed (perhaps even becoming cancerous). In light of this basic qi theory, let us first discuss why qigong can be effective in curing back pain.

Why Is Qigong Effective for Back Pain?

Qigong Maintains and Increases Smooth Qi Circulation. The goal of qigong healing is to re-establish a strong, smooth flow of qi through the affected area. When this happens, physical damage can be repaired and strength rebuilt. Traditional Chinese physicians have always believed that as long as you are alive, physical damage to the body can be repaired through improving the qi and blood circulation. Most Western physicians don’t agree with this, and believe some conditions—for example, the osteoarthritis caused by aging and the degeneration of the joints—cannot be reversed. However, some Western physicians are beginning to change their minds about this.

Qigong Strengthens the Physical and Mental Bodies. The greatest benefit of Chinese qigong is probably in the physical (yang) and mental (yin) training. Qigong teaches you how to regulate the mind to a calm, profound, and concentrated meditative state. It also teaches you how to use your regulated mind in coordination with deep breathing to lead the qi circulating in your body. From this internal guidance and coordination with specific qigong movements, you can either heal yourself or rebuild the strength of your physical body. From the yin (mental body) and yang (physical body) balance, you regain your health.

Qigong Strengthens the Immune and Hormone Production Systems. Western science knows that the body’s immune system is closely related to the endocrine glands, which produce hormones. Hormones cause fundamental processes such as growth, reproduction, and sexual response to speed up or slow down. (The word hormone comes from a Greek word which means to excite, to stimulate, or to stir up.) They also strengthen the ability of the immune system to fight diseases. For example, it is believed that the thymus gland (which is located just behind the top of the sternum) plays an important role in the body’s immune system, but we do not have a full understanding of the function of the thymus. We also still do not know very much about the pineal gland in the upper back part of the brain. In fact, it has only recently come to be believed that hormone production is significantly related to the aging process.

Many of us know of people who were deathly sick, but who had a very high spirit and a strong desire to survive, and miraculously recovered. Both Western and Eastern communities tell of many such cases. Chinese qigong practitioners believe that if a sick person can lead qi to the brain through concentration or through strong desire, he or she can evoke a powerful healing force. A possible explanation is that the stronger qi flow activates the pineal and pituitary glands so that they generate more hormones. We do know that the most important function of the pituitary gland is to stimulate, regulate, and coordinate the functions of the other endocrine glands. For this reason it is sometimes called the “master gland.”

In Chinese qigong, the upper dan tian (which some Westerners refer to as the “third eye”) is considered the center of your whole being. If you raise your spirit, which resides there, you can energize your body, manifest amazing physical and mental strength, and recover more quickly from injury or sickness. Certain groups in the West have also recognized its importance as the center of the spirit, and consider it a “third eye,” which is able to sense further than the physical eyes.

If we combine the understanding of old and new, and of East and West, we can conclude that what actually happens, probably because of mental concentration, is that a stronger current of bioelectricity is led to the pineal and pituitary glands to activate the production of hormones. This stimulates the entire endocrine system and causes it to function more effectively, improving healing, cellular regeneration, reproduction, and growth. If this is correct, then it is possible to begin a new era of scientific self-healing or spiritual healing. An alternative result is that we may learn how to devise electrical equipment to activate the pineal and pituitary glands to improve the effectiveness and speed of healing. Perhaps we may also be able to find the secret key to slowing down the aging process.

Qigong Raises the Spirit of Vitality. The spirit is closely tied to the mind and cannot be separated from it. In qigong practice, the mind is considered the general in the battle against sickness. When the mind is considered the general in the battle against sickness. When the mind (general) has a strong will, thoroughly understands the battlefield (the body), wisely and carefully sets up the strategy (the breathing technique), and effectively and efficiently manages the soldiers (the qi), then the morale (spirit) of the general and soldiers will be high. When this happens, sickness can be conquered and health regained. The best way to prevent back pain from returning once you have cured it is to make qigong part of your life.

When you use qigong to treat your back pain, you must first treat your mind by changing the way you look at your sickness and your life. Do not passively accept the negative things that have happened to you. Become more active and take charge of your life. Most basically, learn how to keep the back pain from disturbing your peace of mind. Remember, doing something is better than doing nothing.

Second, you must rebuild your confidence in your ability to treat your back pain. Even though you may have failed before, don’t let that discourage you. Learn about the causes of your problem, understand the theory of this new treatment, and try to think about how you can make the treatment more effective. Once you do this, you will have rebuilt your confidence not only in the treatment, but also in your life.

Third, after you have practiced qigong for a while, you will understand your body better and you will deal with such problems more easily. You may realize that the pain is not necessarily all bad. Pain draws your attention to your body and helps you to understand yourself better. Pain can also help you to build up willpower and perseverance. However, you must first know what pain is, for only then will you stop it. This is called “regulating your mind.” Remember that medicine is only a temporary solution.

Once you begin to take action, build your confidence, and learn to understand your pain, you will be on your way to developing the willpower, patience, and perseverance needed to keep up with the treatment. You can see that Chinese qigong heals by going to the root of the problem. It improves the entire body, both mentally and physically, and strengthens the immune system. Only when this is done will the illness be healed completely.

The above is an excerpt from The Pain-Free Back: 54 Simple Qigong Movements for Healing and Prevention by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, Pub Date September 2017, by YMAA Publication Center, ISBN: 9781594395376