Tai Chi for Arthritis
More than 25 years ago, Dr. Paul Lam, then a young medical student, realized he was experiencing the early signs of osteoarthritis. He decided to take up Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese therapy for arthritis. Now, Dr. Lam is a family physician in Sydney and has become so proficient at Tai Chi that he has won a gold medal in international competition (Beijing, China, 1993).
In 1997, Dr. Lam realized he wanted to share his experience of the benefits of Tai Chi with other people with arthritis. Working with a group of Tai Chi and medical experts, he developed the Twelve-Movement Tai Chi for Arthritis program.
The objectives of the program are:
• To provide a safe and interesting program, which is easy to learn for people of
almost any physical condition or age without prior knowledge of Tai Chi.
• To deliver maximum relief from the main problems experienced by people
with arthritis—namely pain and stiffness.
• To benefit health in general.
• To improve relaxation.
Tai Chi encompasses a wide range of styles and forms, each with their own characteristics, strengths and principles. The Sun style, one of four widely recognized styles, was chosen by Dr Lam’s team as being particularly effective for people with arthritis since is characterized by:
•Agile steps with many forward and backward movements: After any movement forward or backward with one foot, the other foot follows, providing more mobility, which is very helpful to people with arthritis.
• Power Qigong exercise facilitates healing, improves breathing and
• Its high stance makes it easier for beginners and older people to learn.
• Its great artistic depth holds student interest.
For centuries, the Chinese recognized the effects of Tai Chi on Arthritis. The 12 movement Sun style Tai Chi is safe, easy to learn and effective for people living with arthritis.
Participants should wear loose comfortable clothes and flat shoes suitable for exercise.
For beginners we learn warm up exercises, how to practice Tai Chi safely, and how Tai Chi works for arthritis.
We also practice Qigong exercises to add deep slow breathing to our movements. For intermediate practitioners learn how Tai Chi as a slow practice, calms and clears the mind, relaxes the muscles, focuses awareness, and shifting weight.
Tai Chi improves muscle strength, and increases flexibility of the joints. Some recent research has shown Tai Chi to be an effective exercise for arthritis.