Tai chi is a Chinese exercise system which uses slow, smooth body movements to achieve a state of relaxation of both body and mind. It can help achieve a state of physical and mental relaxation while also strengthening the cardiovascular system. Tai chi has both physical and mental benefits. If done regularly, it improves muscle tone, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Many older people find that it boosts their energy, stamina, and agility, sharpens their reflexes, and gives an overall sense of well-being. The calming and meditative aspects of Tai chi allow many to experience its ability to relieve stress.
Tai Chi and Arthritis.
In a 40-person study at Tufts University, presented in October 2008 at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, an hour of Tai Chi twice a week for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved mood and physical functioning more than standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. According to a Korean study published in December 2008 in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, eight weeks of Tai chi classes followed by eight weeks of home practice significantly improved flexibility and slowed the disease process in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful and debilitating inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spine. (source: Health.Harvard.edu)
Low Bone Density
A review of six controlled studies by Dr. Wayne and other Harvard researchers indicates that tai chi may be a safe and effective way to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women. A controlled study of tai chi in women with osteopenia (diminished bone density not as severe as osteoporosis) is under way at the Osher Research Center and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (source: Health.Harvard.edu)
Twisting and Spiraling of your Bones
The emphasis in Tai Chi is on circulating movements which twist the tendons and facia. This works a bit like wringing a wet towel where these movements stress the bones. This has been proven to improve bone density
Getting proper body alignment stacks the bones and spine much more efficiently and over times improves your posture
Using your Bones Instead of Muscles
This alignment allows your bones to take much more of your body’s weight rather than your muscles. This increased loading again promotes greater bone density.
Open and Close
Every movement in Tai Chi either opens or closes the joints as well as the upper and lower body. One style called Sun Style Tai Chi is often called Open & Close Tai Chi as this is a very prominent feature of this particular form. These movements open the joints, cavities and solar plexus stimulating circulation and improve the elimination of toxins via the lymph system. It also gently stimulates the rib cage and other bones again improving density.
Relaxation Improves Circulation
As your muscles get used less to maintain your posture and facilitate movement, there is less tension in the body tissues and less resistance to blood circulation. Practitioners often get redder hands and complexion as the blood flow improves. This often helps with conditions such as Reynolds.
Tai Chi is based upon Chinese Medicine and the various exercises help to open up the meridians which help to fix many health problems.
Intention and Focus
Tai Chi is practiced very slowly with a deliberate focus on being present in the exercises. This is far more demanding than many sports and helps to build will power and the ability to stay focused. It also helps to relax as you become focused in the present moment and stop worrying about problems in your life. It is almost like taking a break for your mind. Stress has always been a key factor in many diseases including arthritis. If you can switch off and become calmer, this often helps to heal common health conditions.