Tai Chi Proven to Reduce Pain in Older People

Tai Chi Proven to Reduce Pain in Older People

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We've all seen people doing their Tai Chi exercises (on television, if not necessarily in the flesh) and many of us have viewed this form of exercise as just that, a form of exercise.

The deliberate, studied movements are said to induce mental relaxation and enhance your balance, strength and flexibility. Tai Chi practitioners have always argued for the medicinal benefits of Tai Chi.

Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine have determined that older patients (over 65 years of age) who suffer from knee osteoarthritis (OA) can improve their physical functioning and experience less pain if they go through the slow, rhythmic movements of Tai Chi.

In this research 40 knee osteoarthritis sufferers were randomly split into two groups of 20: half of them took part in a 60-minute Yang style Tai Chi session twice weekly for 12 weeks. Each session included: a 10-minute self-massage and a review of Tai Chi principles; 30 minutes of Tai Chi movement; 10 minutes of breathing technique; and 10 minutes of relaxation.

The other group attended two 60-minute class sessions per week for 12 weeks. Each control session included 40 minutes of instruction covering OA as a disease, diet and nutrition, therapies to treat OA, or physical and mental health education. The final 20 minutes consisted of stretching exercises involving the upper body, trunk, and lower body, with each stretch being held for 10-15 seconds.

At the end of 12-weeks, patients practicing Tai Chi exhibited a significant decrease in knee pain compared with those in the control group.

References: 

"Tai Chi Is Effective in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Chenchen Wang, Christopher H. Schmid, Patricia L. Hibberd, Robert Kalish, Ronenn Roubenoff, Ramel Rones, and Timothy McAlindon. Arthritis Care & Research; Published Online: October 29, 2009 (DOI:10.1002/art.24832); Print Issue Date: November 2009.

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