Lian gong (LG), also called Lian Gong Shi Ba Fa, is a form of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) from China. More specifically, it is a set of stretching, breathing exercises, and self-massaging techniques aimed at preventing and relieving stress as well as acute pains around the neck, shoulders, back, hips, legs, joints, and connective tissues. Even though it is relatively new, it is based on old Chinese stretching, breathing, and warm-up exercises dating back more than 1,000 years, including the Eight Silk Brocade (八段錦). Lian gong has spread rapidly from China to other countries, especially to Japan and Brazil.
Lian Gong was developed by Dr. Zhuang Yuan Ming (1919- ), a traditional Chinese medical doctor, who started conducting a series of clinical trials around 1974 in a Shanghai hospital on patients suffering from a variety of stress-related conditions. Lian Gong is now being promoted as “massage in motion”.
One of the few controlled clinical studies of Liam gong aimed to evaluate the effects of LG on the impact of dizziness on the quality of life and fear of falling in primary health care patients. It was designed as a randomized clinical trial with 36 patients with dizziness not caused by central changes. The participants were randomly assigned to 3 groups:
- the Liam gong (LG) group ( n = 11),
- the vestibular rehabilitation (VR) group ( n = 11),
- the control group ( n = 14).
The treatments were carried out over a period of 12 weeks.
Lian gong reduced the influence of dizziness on the quality of life in physical (1.8 points, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.2-3.4), functional (4.0 points, 95% CI: 2.1-5.9), and emotional domains of quality of life (4.4 points, 95% CI: 1.7-7.2), with no differences, compared with VR.
The authors concluded that Lian gong was shown to be an effective balance rehabilitation strategy to reduce the impact of dizziness on quality of life, with similar results to those of VR.
Unfortunately, this study has many flaws – not least its minute sample size. Therefore, the conclusions seem more than a little over-optimistic. I would not be all that surprised to learn that these exercises can have beneficial effects for a range of conditions. What seems doubtful in my view, however, is whether it is superior to more conventional exercise therapies.