Powerful Qigong Exercises to Strengthen Arthritic Knees

12 minute read

by Musetta Vander - Qigong is an ancient system of energy healing that studies Qi circulation in the human body.  The word Qi refers to life force energy. This energy is present in everything in the universe: Mineral, plant, animal, human and the Divine.

Science refers to it as bio-electricity and considers the body a living electromagnetic field. The word Gong, means skill. Loosely translated, Qigong refers to the gathering, circulating, and applying of life force energy.   

The biggest difference between Qigong and Western arthritis exercises is that by practicing Qigong, one becomes aware of the inner energy of the body. Once this is experienced, one can start to feel energy imbalances when they are just beginning, consequently correcting them before physical damage occurs.

A Qi imbalance is a precursor to many diseases and occurs well before the physical disease manifests.

Normally, Qi circulates through natural pathways called meridians. Ideally, Qi should be free flowing. However, both internal and external factors affect Qi flow in the body. These factors include the mind, weather, time of day, environment, food you eat, emotions, lack of exercise, aging, weakness in the internal organs, joint injuries, and a Qi deficiency.

This can lead to Qi deviations in the form of stagnation and blockages that cause illness and pain if not corrected.

| Related: The Arthritis Diet: Eating Your Way to Inflammation Relief |

Qigong focuses on relaxing the body, which over time, allows the joints and muscles to loosen up, improving the circulation of fluids and blood. The practice focuses on rebuilding overall health and strengthening the spirit, while encouraging one to change the way one looks at life in general, and at the illness affecting you.

Our body is highly intelligent, constantly communicating by sending us messages in the form of aches and pains.  Unfortunately, we don’t pay attention until things reach a crisis point, forcing us to stop and pay attention to its needs. However, a health crisis often serves as a valuable wake up call, drawing attention to what’s out of balance in our lives.

Relaxing the Body 

The first step is to learn how to relax and avoid muscle/tendon tension and stress, which can increase pressure on the joint and continue to damage the knee. Our breath and emotions are interdependent. Before you can relax your body, you have to relax your mind. When the mind is calm, relaxed, and concentrated, you can feel or sense the Qi.

| Related: The Inflammation Factor: The Heart of the Joint Health Matter |

1. Turn off all outside distractions and set the intention to help your body. Find a comfortable seated posture and close your eyes. Draw your attention inward and feel your body. Exhale all stress and tension until you feel the body relax.

2. Once the body is comfortable,  focus deeply into the muscles and tendons. Become aware of any physical sensations or discomfort. Take long, slow, deep breaths into the muscles and tendons. Exhale all stress, pain or discomfort into the earth.  Feel the muscles and tendons relaxing with every exhalation.

3. Draw your attention to the rest of your body and try to relax deeply into the internal organs. Even the muscles that enclose the organs. Breathe deeply and evenly. Exhale all stress and tension like a like a dark smoke into the earth.

4. Visualize this smoke becoming lighter and lighter as you release toxic energy from the body. When the body is fully relaxed, Qi can be led deeply into the area to help repair damage.

Exercise 1: Pulling Qi

After relaxing the body and calming the mind, you can begin your qigong exercise.

Pulling Qi is beneficial to everyone. However, this practice is especially useful for those suffering with pain and limited mobility. It doesn’t strain the knee joints and is a gentle, safe, and effective way to help restore Qi flow to the area. As we breathe in and out, the body expands and contracts, exchanging Qi with the universe.

Pulling Qi employs this expansion and contraction of Qi to assist in the removal of stagnant and blocked energy from within the body. When you use Qigong to cure arthritis, you must inhale and exhale deeply and calmly so that you can lead the Qi deep into the joints. Use your exhalations to remove excess or stagnant Qi.

1. Place your hands in front of you at the level of your solar plexus and begin by rubbing your hands together, getting them as warm as you can. This generates heat and builds Qi between the hands. When the hands feel hot, slowly separate them, palms facing each other without touching. Relax your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers.

2. Close your eyes and focus your mind on the space between your hands (max distance about 10cm). Try to feel the energy you just generated. Slowly begin opening and closing your hands, trying not to lose awareness of the sensation between the hands.

3. Imagine you’re holding a healing ball of golden Qi like a vibrant sun. Imagine this ball becoming bigger and bigger with every accordion, like movement of the hands until it reaches the size of a basketball.

Move slowly and try to feel the energy between the palms. Everyone experiences this differently. Some feel a taffy like sensation; others like they’re moving through water, and some, a magnetic pull between the palms.

4. If you don’t feel anything, don’t worry. Just imagine that you are holding a big ball of golden Qi, growing bigger with every inhalation and exhalation. Try to match your breath to the movement of your hands. Expand the lower abdomen as you inhale, opening the hands. Contract the lower abdomen as you exhale closing the hands.

5. Once you feel you have a big ball of healing Qi between your hands, place your hands on either side of the afflicted knee. (Your knee should be in the center of the energy ball). Imagine healing energy penetrating deep inside the knee joint. As you pull the hands apart imagine the cells and tissues separating allowing toxic Qi to disperse.

6. Imagine new healing Qi penetrating deep inside every tissue and cell of the knee as you draw the palms closer. Instruct the knee mentally to “Be healed, be cured” as you continue to fan the palms.

Visualize the knee being repaired. “See” your knee healing. Remember, your body speaks your mind, so instruct it to be healed. And “see" a healthy knee returning.

 If you cannot reach your knee, raise it on something, or just visualize your knee inside the healing ball of Qi you are holding in front of you.

7.. After about 10-15 minutes, place your palms on the lower abdomen, restoring this golden ball of healing energy. Take a moment to thank your body.

8. Repeat as often as needed and keep instructing the body to heal the area. Look at pictures of a healthy knee joint and “see” yours healthy!

Pulling Qi can be used for any part of the body.

Exercise 2: Knee AcuPress

Acupressure Points are considered part of Qigong massage. This practice helps to activate some of the body’s natural healing mechanisms by improving both Qi and blood circulation, as well as returning the body to a more natural state of well-being. Used in China for thousands of years, acupressure points apply the same principles of acupuncture.

1. Sit comfortably on a chair. Rub your hands together, generating heat between the palms  Once they’re hot, rub all around the knees, creating a warming sensation.

As the area warms up, depending of comfort level, you may slowly increase pressure, using the base of your palm, allowing you to penetrate more deeply into the joint. Always listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

2. Next, use your fingertips to tap all around the knee area. Some spots may be sensitive. Also tap the back of the knee. Change to a flat palm to gently slap all around the knee area. This will warm the knee area, stimulating Qi and blood flow, improving circulation. Once the knee feels nice and warm you can begin.

There are several Knee AcuPress points.

Stomach 35 - In the outer indentation just below the kneecap.

Stomach 36 - Four finger widths below the kneecap, one finger outside of the shinbone.

Gallbladder 33 - On the side of the lower thigh, in the hollow between the femur and tendon.

Gallbladder 34 - On the side of the lower leg, in the hollow below and in front of the shinbone.

Urinary Bladder 39 - On the back of the knee where the crease ends when the knee is bent.

Urinary Bladder 40 - In the crease in the center of the back of the knee.

Liver 8 - On the inside of the knee where the crease ends when the knee is bent.

Kidney 10 - On the inside edge of the knee crease, in the hollow between the 2 tendons.

Spleen 9 - Under the head of the shinbone on the inside of the knee.

3. Once you’ve located a point, use your thumb or index finger to gently depress the point. A simple way to stimulate it is to press firmly with a finger in a rotary movement for several minutes at a time.

Try to relax, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Points can be sensitive so start with light pressure. Energy follows intention. Lead the Qi deep into the points with your mind. Always listen to your body and adjust pressure to your comfort level.

4. Massage these points 2-3 times a daily for about 10-15 minutes.

After you’ve finished, gently stretch your legs out in front of you and flex your feet backwards Lean slightly forward. You should feel a gentle pull on the back of the legs, stretching out the muscles and tendons.

Listen to your body and alternate between Pulling Qi and AcuPress, depending on your body’s comfort level.

Musetta Vander is certified as a Master of Medical Qigong Therapy and Medical Qigong Oncology. Her passion for meditation and alternative healing blossomed into a qigong practice helping others who suffer from dis-ease ranging from headaches to cancer. She teaches qigong workshops and shares videos on her Youtube channel for anyone interested in learning more about qigong.

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