Discover relief for arthritis with tai chi

What is Arthritis?

It’s incredible.  There are over 100 types of arthritis[3] and related musculoskeletal conditions.  These fall into three major categories: osteoarthritis from wear and tear of the joints, inflammatory arthritis, and problems around the joint. 

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type.  It’s where there’s progressive damage to the joint cartilage which cushions the ends of the bones.  It commonly affects the knees, hips, fingers, neck and lower back.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition which can cause hot, red, painful and swollen joints. 
  • Fibromyalgia is a significant example of a condition outside the joint that causes pain and stiffness.  Common signs and symptoms include fatigue, sleep disturbances[4], muscle aches and pain and tenderness in specific body locations.

No matter what specific type they may have, fatigue is common in people with arthritis.

Pretty awful, isn’t it.  But there’s good news ahead.

How Tai Chi Works For Arthritis

Effective Exercise Helps Arthritis

You and I understand exercise is beneficial for most aspects of health.  Exercise is good for arthritis too.  But pain and stiffness, understandably, discourage those with arthritis from exercising.  That’s bad news.  For without exercise, joints become even stiffer and muscles weaker.  Exercise keeps bones, muscles, and joints healthy, improving flexibility and muscular strength.

Not all exercise is equal.  The medical experts agree that effective exercise should fulfil three objectives:

  1. Increase flexibility
  2. Strengthen muscles
  3. Improve cardiorespiratory fitness. 

Here’s the good news.  Tai Chi for Arthritis fulfils these objectives and more.  It doesn’t cost money to practice, once you’ve taken a few classes to learn it.  You won’t need specialised equipment, and you don’t even need much space.  What’s more, you can practice it either standing or sitting.  It is accessible to all ages and abilities.

Power of Qigong

Qigong has been a fundamental belief in most eastern cultures for thousands of years.  Acupuncture and Chinese medicine base their central theory on this concept.  The word, “Gong” means exercise that required a great deal of practice to become proficient.  Qigong is the practice of cultivating Qi.  It is essentially breathing exercises sometimes aided by certain body movements and meditation at the same time.  Tai Chi incorporates Qigong as an integral component.  Tai Chi’s gentle and slow movements open up one’s energy channels and keep them strong and supple.  The rhythmic movements of the muscle, spine and joints pump energy through the whole body.  Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for Qi cultivation.

When Qi flows through the body smoothly and powerfully, it enhances and affects healing.  According to Chinese medicine, arthritis is caused by weak and sluggish flow of Qi.  This why, for centuries, Chinese doctors have recommended Tai Chi for people with arthritis.  Tai Chi for Arthritis is based on Sun-style which has unique and powerful Qigong throughout all the movements.

Increased Flexibility

You can improve your flexibility.  This reduces stiffness and helps keep joints mobile.  Stiffness causes pain, and increasing flexibility relieves it. 

Tai Chi for Arthritis gently moves all joints, muscles and tendons throughout the body.  Tai Chi significantly increases flexibility, and this has been demonstrated in many scientific studies. [5] [6] [7]

The Atlanta FICSIT Group conducted a prospective, randomised, controlled clinical trial.  This study divided 200 participants into three groups:  Tai Chi, computerised balance training and control.  The results indicated that Tai Chi significantly improves flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance, as well as decreases the occurrence of falls by a massive 47.5%.[8]

In two studies Tai Chi for Arthritis was used, and the results showed it was effective in improving balance and reduce the risk of falling.[9] [10]

Increased Muscle Strength

Increased muscle strength helps keep joints stable, thereby protecting the joints.  This minimizes future injury and reduces pain.  Increased muscle strength enables increased activity, which in turn improves blood and body fluid circulation. Muscular strength is required to perform any task.

Many top-level athletes and sportsmen have suffered from osteoarthritis as a result of injuries, yet they are able to perform at peak levels because their strong muscles protect their joints.  Frequently, after retirement from active sports, their activity level diminishes, and their muscles become weaker.  This usually causes arthritis to flare up.

Studies have shown Tai Chi to be effective in strengthening muscles by 15 to 20%.[11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] The Song study (footnote nine) showed Tai Chi for Arthritis improved physical function and balance by 30%.

Improved Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Improving cardiorespiratory fitness helps strengthen the heart and lungs and increases stamina.  Arthritic joints and tissues need a good supply of blood and oxygen for healing.  Better circulation of blood, fluid and oxygen also helps keep joints flexible and muscles strong.

Tai Chi is a particularly useful fitness exercise.  Many studies mentioned above have found significant improvement in the participants’ fitness level.  One study has shown that tai chi has the same metabolic equivalency as a brisk walk.

Mind Power

A positive mind aids healing.  Many studies demonstrate the powerful effect of the mind over the body.  Tai Chi integrates body and mind.  When practising tai chi, one focuses on clarity of the mind, the movements and the coordination of the body.  This training improves relaxation and uplifts mood.  A review of complementary and alternative treatments by doctors from Standford University[17] concludes that mind-body techniques are efficacious primarily as a complementary treatment, but sometimes as a stand-alone, alternative treatment.

Being positive and relaxed, you are more likely to improve your perception of pain.  Clearly, the incredible power of the mind has not been adequately estimated.  This program is one of the most effective mind-body exercises.  It teaches the student to harness the natural energy from which they can attain greater self-control and empowerment.

Conclusion

Dr Lam and a panel of medical and Tai Chi experts designed the Tai Chi for Arthritis program to be safe and effective, especially for people with arthritis. The program improves flexibility, muscular strength and fitness. It relieves pain and improves physical function, as proven within studies. What is more, it improves balance and reduces the risk of falling.

There are other studies which show other benefits of this program, including the prevention of chronic conditions and benefits to people with mental conditions. More than a million people around the world have benefited from this program.

References

[1] https://anydayguide.com/calendar/3361 [2] https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/national-arthritis-week-2019/ [3] https://creakyjoints.org/education/all-arthritis-types/ [4] Fibromyalgia – Medcine Shoppe in Norton. http://medicineshoppenorton.us/fibromyalgia/ [5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8831482 [6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9526879 [7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20841054 [8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14687360 [9] Song, Lee E, Lam P, Bae S.  Effects of Tai Chi exercise on pain, balance, muscle strength, and physical functioning in older women with osteoarthritis: A randomized clinical trial.  Jornal of Rheumatology.  30:9 page 2039-2044, Sept.2003. [10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17661956 [11] Wolfson-L; Whipple-R; Derby-C; Judge-J; King-M; Amerman-P; Schmidt-J; Smyers-D: Balance and strength training in older adults: intervention gains and Tai Chi maintenance. J-Am-Geriatr-Soc. 44(5):498-506, May 1996.[12] La-Forge-R: Mind-body fitness: encouraging prospects for primary and secondary prevention. J-Cardiovasc-Nurs. 11(3): 53-65, April 1997. [13] Jacobson-BH; Chen-HC; Cashel-C; Guerrero-L: The effect of Tai Chi Chuan training on balance, kinesthetic sense, and strength. Percept-Mot-Skills. 84(1): 27-33, Feb 1997.   [14] Judge-JO; Lindsey-C; Underwood-M; Winsemius-D: Balance improvements in older women: effects of exercise training. Phys-Ther. 73(4).• 254-62; discussion 263-5, April 1993.   [15] Wolfson-L; Whipple-R; Judge-J; Amerman-P; Derby-C; King-M: Training balance and strength in the elderly to improve function. J-Am-Geriatr-Soc. 41 (3): 341-3, Mar 1993.    [16] How Does Tai Chi for Arthritis Work? | Tai Chi for Health …. https://taichiforhealthinstitute.org/how-does-tai-chi-for-arthritis-work/ [17] Luskin-FM; Newell-KA; Griffith-M; Jolmes-M; Telles-S; Marvasti-FF; Pelletier-KR; Haskell-WL: A review of mind-body therapies in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Park 1: Implications for the elderly. Altern-Ther- Health-Med, 4(3):46-61, May 1998.

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