Chi Machine

A chi machine is a massage device used to increase circulation while relaxing your muscles. To use this device, you place your ankles in a cradle while the rest of you lies flat on your back. Often a yoga mat is used for comfort. Ankles and feet are elevated by about 6-12 inches and at this point, you should be comfortable. 

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When the device is turned on, it moves your feet in a figure 8 motion, which sends a "wave" up your spine. The speed is variable and around 15 minutes is the standard time used.

This action is meant to release tension, increase circulation, may relieve edema (swelling of the ankles) and is considered passive exercise. The swaying action sends a wave-like motion up the spine, which helps to relax and loosen your back, as well as allow more flow of spinal fluid. Some say this sends a flow of energy and claim it opens up the chi, or life force. Because the spine becomes relaxed and circulation is increased, it is likely that movement of the lymphatic fluids (that carries waste out of the body) will increase, as well.

Another important benefit of the chi machine is not only increase circulation of of the lymphatic fluids, but fat loss, too.  This may be because the lymph carries toxins out of the body, and when stagnant, this waste may be stored in and around fatty tissue.

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 When the lymphatic circulatory system is stimulated, it can then pick up the stored waste and move it out.  (A clinical study reporting that the lymphatic system is stimulated by the chi machine is published with PubMed, a medical resource of the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.) 

I came across this practice during a massage therapy session. The therapist picked up my feet at one point and started to move them in a figure 8 herself. Quite surprised, I had to tell her how great it felt. I just wished she could have done it longer. She was the first who suggested the machine to me.

About a year later, someone brought one of these devices into my office for a demonstration. I tried five minutes and I loved it. Yet I wasn't ready to pay the $500 price tag. Later on, I decided to purchase one when I found a chi machine for what I considered a better price. I love it and use it to this day.

I do believe it helps with circulation of both the blood and the lymphatic system, which assists my body's detoxification processes. It is also said to open up the bronchial tubes to increase oxygen intake. If you are a follower of Eastern philosophies, this massage may increase your flow of chi or life force.

Some chiropractors advocate the use of incline boots to allow a client to hang and let the spine adjust itself. I believe a similar process happens while on the chi machine due to the incline of the feet along with the figure 8 motion. After a 10 minute session with mine, I can tell my body is looser and I can even stretch farther.

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As far as weight loss or other claims made, I think that would depend upon the individual; and of course one must consider diet and other lifestyle habits. But as far as exercise, some movement is healthier than none. Promoters of the machine even state it helps increase circulation and flexibility, and is beneficial for those who cannot exercise.

At one point, I was in a car accident and had back surgery (regrettably so). I still used my chi machine, however cut the time to 5 minutes, which I think is a healthy amount of time to start. I slowly worked up to 10 minutes. No matter what your situation, if you decide to try this start slowly as with all exercise. If you have had back problems, check with your doctor. If you can do this, it is very relaxing and can be beneficial, especially when used with a body cleanse or body detox.

I use a model called the Swing Master. I love it and the price. My only complaint is that sometimes it seems to have a "click." The problem is only intermittent and may be due to age (I've had it for about 12 years).

EDIT: It has been another couple years and the machine still works great. The "click" seems to be from lying off-center and causing the machine to be out of balance. Now I pay more attention to centering myself and the click has disappeared. My family/friends and I have used it a lot to take the stiffness out of sore muscles after a long day of snowboarding and skiing... a wonderful and relaxing end to a fun day. :)

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