[I don’t know where this came from but I received it from a tai chi student of mine: I am familiar with the studies cited, and I thought that this laid it out well. DrD]
Practicing tai chi can be as effective as performing conventional neck exercises to relieve long-standing neck pain. This new finding comes from a randomly controlled trial that compared pain reduction in people who performed tai chi for 12 weeks to a group who did conventional neck exercises and members of a control group receiving no treatment. The researchers recruited 114 people age 18 or older who had chronic neck pain for at least three months. The average age of the participants was 49. The tai chi and neck exercise groups took part in weekly sessions that lasted 75 or 90 minutes. At the end of the 12 weeks 37 percent of the participants who practiced tai chi reported that their pain had lessened by 50 percent compared to 50 percent among 46 percent of those who performed the conventional neck exercises. The research team, lead by Harvard medical professor Peter M. Wayne, Ph.D., concluded that tai chi provides moderate benefit for people with chronic, nonspecific neck pain and can be a suitable alternative to conventional neck exercises. Dr. Wayne is also the founder and director of the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center in Somerville, MA and coauthor of The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.
My take? I’m not surprised by these findings. Tai chi is a reliable and effective form of mental and physical stimulation and is beneficial for overall health. In addition to the new study results showing tai chi can reduce neck pain, a 2010 study published the New England Journal of Medicine suggested it can be helpful for relief of fibromyalgia pain. And a study published in May (2016) showed that tai chi can be as effective as physical therapy for reducing pain and stiffness due to knee arthritis.