Background: Non-specific lower back pain is a serious public health problem. Tai Chi is promising in reducing the risk of falls and alleviating symptoms in this population.
Objective: To investigate the effect of Tai Chi on gait and dynamic balance in elderly women with non-specific lower back pain.
Methods: 20 women (age > 65 yr.) with non-specific lower back pain were randomly assigned to a Tai Chi group (n= 10) or a control group (n= 10). The Tai Chi group practiced Tai Chi exercise 3 times a week for 6 weeks. Each session lasted 60 minutes. Pain, spatiotemporal gait features and dynamic balancing capacity were assessed at 0 and 6 weeks.
Results: Compared to the control group at 6 weeks, the Tai Chi group had a significant decrease in VAS (p= 0.027) and stride width (p= 0.019), significant improvement in gait velocity, stride length (p< 0.001). Regarding dynamic balance capacity, the Tai Chi group had significant improvements in anterior (Left: p= 0.001; Right: p= 0.038), postero-lateral (Left: p< 0.001; Right: p= 0.038), and postero-medial (Left: p= 0.015; Right: p= 0.018).
Conclusion: 6-week Tai Chi can relieve pain and improve gait and dynamic balance in elderly women with non-specific lower back pain, which suggests Tai Chi could be a promising rehabilitation intervention to reduce the risk of falls in this population.