Fortunately, doctors and researchers have discovered natural ways to alleviate arthritis pain and other symptoms associated with the disease. One such method is the ancient martial arts form of Tai Chi.
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is an ancient form of non-competitive Chinese martial arts focused on gentle, graceful movements and the flow of energy through the body. Tai Chi has a strong mind-body component, where the practitioner focuses on coordinating movements and clarity of mind during the session.
The mind-body element of Tai Chi promotes relaxation and a positive mindset, which has also been shown to help alleviate pain in those with arthritis.
How Does Tai Chi Help Arthritis?
Tai Chi helps enhance flexibility, strength and balance. These are all important elements for easing arthritis pain. It can also reduce the risk of falls or injuries caused by arthritis symptoms.
Tai Chi helps treat arthritis in several important ways:
Improved flexibility – Stiffness causes pain. Arthritic joints that are more flexible and mobile will hurt less. The gentle, stretching movements in Tai Chi move joints, muscles, and tendons to increase flexibility.
Improved muscle strength – Strong muscles help keep joints stable, reducing pain and the risk of injury.
Improved overall fitness – Tai Chi has been shown to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, leading to reduced arthritis pain and overall better health. Tai Chi helps the energy, along with blood, oxygen, and fluids, to circulate through the body, allowing arthritic joints to stay strong.
Tai Chi for Nearly Any Form of Arthritis
In a number of studies Tai Chi has been shown to help alleviate pain, as well as improve balance and flexibility in adults afflicted with several different forms of arthritis, including:
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Tai Chi Shown to Help Osteoarthritis
Most recently, a team of researchers in Boston completed a study of 200 adults with painful osteoarthritis in the knees. Half the participants underwent standard physical therapy, while the other half participated in a 12-week Tai Chi program.
Both groups reported feeling less pain than before the treatment. Both groups reported a similar degree of improvement, and the improvement lasted a full year for participants in both groups.
The group who practiced Tai Chi noted less depression and an improved quality of life to a greater degree than the physical therapy group.
Should You Try Tai Chi to Treat Your Arthritis?
Because Tai Chi is a no-impact, easy-to-perform exercise, practitioners gradually improve their fitness levels. They find it easier to engage in other physical activities, further improving their health and reducing the pain of arthritis.
Used in conjunction with physical therapy and other treatments, or by itself, Tai Chi is unlikely to cause further injury and very likely to improve arthritis symptoms.
Five Star Senior Living communities offer Tai Chi classes, along with a number of other mind-body wellness programs for residents. Call the community nearest your senior loved one to learn more about out Lifestyle360 wellness program!