Tai Chi has been helping people with arthritis in China for centuries. Now there is scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness. Tai Chi contains many styles and there are significant differences between each one. Most styles - including Sun, Yang, Hao and Wu - are suitable for people with arthritis. It is important to ensure that your instructor is familiar with arthritis and knows how to give you special attention.
Tai Chi originated in ancient China
Tai Chi has been practiced in China for centuries. Tai Chi:
Is suitable for almost anyone
Integrates the body and mind
Uses gentle and circular movements
Is easy to learn for arthritis relief
Tai Chi can help control symptoms of arthritis
There are many different types of arthritis. Although it is not curable, there is much that can be done to control the condition. This is important, as it allows arthritis sufferers to function normally and enjoy their chosen lifestyle.
Exercise is an essential part of the many different approaches to controlling arthritis. It works by improving flexibility, muscle strengthening and fitness. Scientific studies show that Tai Chi is able to improve these three aspects of body functioning.
Other health benefits
Tai Chi is easy and inexpensive to learn. It can also help to:
Promote correct body posture
Integrate body, mind and spirit
Improve Qi (a life energy which governs all functions of the body).
There are various perspectives on how tai chi works. Eastern philosophy holds that tai chi unblocks the flow of qi; when qi flows properly, the body, mind, and spirit are in balance and health is maintained. Others believe that tai chi works in the same way as other mind-body therapies, and there is ample evidence that paying attention to the connection between the mind and the body can relieve stress, combat disease, and enhance physical well-being.
Tai chi has three major components—movement, meditation, and deep breathing.
Movement -- all the major muscle groups and joints are needed for the slow, gentle movements in tai chi. Tai chi improves balance, agility, strength, flexibility, stamina, muscle tone, and coordination. This low-impact, weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and can slow bone loss, thus preventing the development of osteoporosis.
Meditation -- research shows that meditation soothes the mind, enhances concentration, reduces anxiety, and lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
Deep breathing -- exhaling stale air and toxins from the lungs while inhaling a plentitude of fresh air increases lung capacity, stretches the muscles involved in breathing, and releases tension. It also enhances blood circulation to the brain, which boosts mental alertness. At the same time, the entire body is supplied with fresh oxygen and nutrients.
The movements of tai chi are gentle, graceful, mystical -- and, for elderly people, a very safe way to relieve arthritis pain and gain balance, strength, and flexibility. Tai chi is one of many alternative therapies that can provide relief from pain, possibly letting you cut back on pain medications.
Early mornings in large and small cities in China - and increasingly in America's parks, hospitals, and community centers - people are practicing tai chi. It is an ancient tradition said to have developed in medieval China, to help restore health of monks in poor physical condition from too much meditation and too little exercise.