Tai Chi and Arthritis

Pauline Allen, Tai Chi Instructor

There is a growing amount of confirmation through studies, newspaper articles and personal stories of how helpful Tai Chi exercises are for keeping our bodies flexible, strong and supple. This is particularly helpful for those suffering problems such as arthritis.

The gentle, slow movements allow the joints to be moved with awareness so that one can stop if there is discomfort or pain. These include circling joints, stretching muscles and weight bearing. By respecting limitations and relaxing into the movements a greater degree of range can be found. This careful use of movement encourages the use of the joints without causing undue discomfort or wear and tear.

The flowing movements and breathing exercises encourage relaxation to both body and mind thereby decreasing discomfort and increasing a sense of wellbeing. This then allows more flexibility and confidence in doing more.

Exercise generally helps the body’s strength and reliance so exercising with Tai Chi combines the benefits of exercise with relaxation. Most exercises are done while continuously moving and can be done standing or seated.

In the classes that we run in Reading usual Tai Chi moves have been adapted as necessary to individual needs and members have reported:

  • Increases of leg strength so they can stand longer;
  • Increased flexibility so that ordinary jobs are less of a problem;
  • Greater confidence to try out things that they had been concerned would aggravate their arthritis.

The classes are also helpful to anyone with other mobility complaints such as back problems, balance and coordination problems.