Tai Chi for Arthritis

Everyone needs muscle strength, but you do not have to go to great lengths in the gym, lifting weights, working with machines to achieve muscle strength. The main reason muscle strength is needed, is because it is very important for supporting and protecting the joints. It is needed for normal physical functioning.

Flexibility is also needed for ease of movement, circulation of the fluids of the body and blood, both of which promote healing. Fitness is needed for the proper functioning of your heart, lungs as well as your muscles. Tai Chi can make this happen. What is amazing is people can do that tai chi at any age. Reasons why more that 2.3 million Americans practice tai chi is listed below.

  • to obtain benefits associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise:
  • to improve physical condition, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility;
  • to improve balance and decrease the risk of falls;
  • to ease pain and stiffness;
  • to improve sleep; and
  • for overall wellness.

Harvard Medical School referred to tai chi as “meditation in motion”, as it is also helpful for reducing stress, hypertension, sleep problems, low bone density, and stroke. Tai Chi is especially suitable for adults since the level of exertion is adjustable according to the individual’s ability. When an exercise can be done easily, without pushing to achieve the completion of the program, there is a better chance the individual will continue to persevere. Once one level has been reached, then they can step up to another level, totally at their own pace.  Tai Chi becomes for many, a lifetime journey.

Tai Chi for Arthritis:

  • Muscle strength is important for supporting and protecting joints. It is essential for normal physical function.
  • Flexibility exercises enable people to move more easily. Flexibility also facilitates the circulation of body fluid and blood, which enhances healing. Many arthritic conditions such as fibromyalgia, scleroderma and spondylitis are characterized by joint stiffness and impaired physical function. Tai chi gently frees up stiff joints and muscles.
  • Fitness is important for overall health and proper functioning of the heart, lungs and muscles. Tai Chi for Arthritis can improve all of these components.

As stated, it helps to relieve pain and reduce stress. Some of this is because it is a mind-body exercise. Tai Chi brings about a sense of serenity and relaxation of the mind and it is in this manner, it helps to reduce the pain and stress of the individual.

One of the most significant and positive results of the Tai Chi for Arthritis program is because as an individual becomes more flexible, they are less prone to falling. The hip and knee joints are not only stronger, but also more flexible. This comes about through simple and gentle movements done on a regular basis. It was found that those who practice the art of tai chi are less likely to drop out compared to other forms of exercise.

What happens in a Tai Chi class:

The movements of tai chi are full of symbolism and this engages the mind with the movement. The whole body is involved with each movement, whether the movement is focused on the hands, or the arms. As one leg bends, the other stretches, with the hips as the driving force of the motion. It starts on one side of the body and switched to the other side. The arms rotate at the shoulder, not only to encourage the arm to stretch out, but to strengthen the shoulder muscles.

Individual movements may only last two minutes or more and within an hour-long class, up to 20 movements may be incorporated. The movements can be learned in sets, they do not have to be learned all at once. Gradually the individual can add more movements to the whole set.

Cate Morrill, a certified tai chi instructor tells WebMD that if at all possible, people should take it as a class.  A special camaraderie develops among the individuals in a class. There is a automatic support group present, a cheering section,  and friendships develop. According to legend, “if you meditate and do tai chi 100 days in a row, you gain back eight years of youth,” says Morrill.

The flexibility that develops in the class, follows the individual throughout their daily lives, in their cleaning the house, working in the yard, getting in and out of the bathtub, to mention a few.

“There’s logic in how tai chi works,” Parag Sheth MD of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York says. “Tai chi emphasizes rotary movements — turning the body from side to side, working muscles that they don’t use when walking, building muscle groups they are not used to using. If they have some strength in those support muscles – the rotators in the hip — that can help prevent a fall.”

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About Barbara

Entering a new journey in my life. Finished a most satisfying career in teaching within a special certificate program for those who did not fit into a credit program, or those who were looking to make an upgrade in their skills in life. It was a special time for me to work with them. Now on to new adventures in the world of freelance writing and whatever else may come my way. I am ready.
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