Read the Transcript:
Welcome back to the Functional Wellness podcast, I’m Dr. Alison and for the next few podcasts I’m going to be sharing some of the tools that I use to help my body feel better and heal.
So let’s start off with the Chi machine. This is a passive exerciser that was invented in Japan in the 1980’s and the term ‘chi machine’ is a registered trademark so you might also recognize the term swing machine. Basically, this is a box that has a wedge for you to place your ankles on and when plugged in, the wedge shifts slightly side to side. You lay on your back and your feet are slightly elevated and you get to relax for about 20 minutes.
For most machines you can control the speed of how fast your feet are moved, and the motion is very slight and very gentle.
There are quite a few companies that make these, and you can find them online and the prices range anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on what you are using them for.
Of course, I have to say that you should definitely talk with your doctor to make sure this is a safe activity for you. This is not for anyone with severe back problems, fractures, and potentially even ankle, knee, back, or hip sprains.
And sadly, there isn’t much research on this chi machine, because science doesn’t study anything that actually works, so this is really my personal review along with experiences of others that I know who have used this machine.
I originally saw this in my chiropractors office in 2005, and he was using it with great success for his low back pain patients. I bought mine in 2020 during my ulcerative colitis flare because 1. I was absolutely desperate and was going to try anything that might help reduce pain and introduce energy and healing to my gut. 2. My body does not respond well to IV steroids and after all my hospital stays I was extremely swollen.
At my 4th week (third hospital) stay, I had lost 40 pounds and was very tiny and a nurse lifted up my blankets and looked at my legs and exclaimed ‘honey, you don’t match, OMG!” because I was so swollen. Yes, the primary had me go get ultrasounds and make sure I wasn’t clotting but just from the medications and also losing my ability to walk had created severe swelling and lymphedema.
So the swing machine, when used gently, was able to help reduce the swelling, lymphedema, and pain in my legs. Also, because I had lost so much muscle and wasn’t able to walk or go up and down stairs, this is literally a passive exercise that helped me get movement and rebuild my body. I put it on the bed so I didn’t have to get on the ground and used it twice a day.
Now, I use this daily for quite a few reasons.
First: passive exercise. I am in quite a flare because my immune suppressants are failing so I can’t get to the gym, or go outside for walks yet. so while I am home, or overtired, or for whatever reason, I use this and I am happy to get movement into my body. Movement is so important for healing, maintaining cellular health and supporting the brain. We need to move and this is a great tool to kinda push that along until you are strong enough to do more.
second: and this is my take: this is like a whole body shake to help reduce sympathetic activation, calm that fight or flight over reaction in my body. I feel that this helps vagal healing, which means its going to be supporting my digestive system, helps with my POTS and MCAS symptoms, and is calming both emotionally and physically. When we say to move, shake, dance, or do somatic exercises, this is something that can be useful, especially for people with chronic pain, EDS, or limited movement.
Third: blood, lymph, and oxygenation flow. Here I am, laying on the floor, my legs are being moved back and forth and at higher speeds the movement or sway/swing goes all the way up to my head. We know that exercise, walking specifically, helps with lymphatic flow, drainage, and immune support for the digestive system, so i do see a small reduction in my digestive symptoms. It’s not a cure. I’ll let you know as soon as I find one, I promise!
but the continuous passive motion helps move the blood, lymph, and intestines. Combine this with meditation and breath work, and I feel much better.
fourth: the really unsupported, unscientific aspect of this is the energy movement through the main energy centers of the body, the spine, and meridians. “For the Japanese who came up with the original concept, the main purpose of creating this sideways oscillation – or “pulsing” – is to stimulate the area between the pelvis and the navel, which is known to the Japanese as the ‘hara’ – or dantian to the Chinese. This refers specifically to the area centered in the lower abdomen (below the navel).”
I actually also lay on my acupuncture mat while doing this, mainly because it saves time while doing all my body work. But my body is extremely and positively responsive to acupuncture and reiki, so this is an added bonus of support that I can do at home for low cost.
If you want to learn more about swing machines, visit https://chiexercisemachine.com/ and if you are looking for personalized care with functional medicine please schedule an appointment online. I am grateful that you are here, make sure to like and subscribe to stay up to date with all our weekly podcasts and see you next time.