12 October 2019 17:00
I want to share this vital information. It may make a significant difference to you, either now or in the future. And even if it doesn’t help you directly, I’m confident someone you know and love may benefit.
As I write, it’s World Arthritis Day, a public awareness day recognised by many countries. Arthritis is the most significant cause of pain and disability in the UK. Here, we find out how Tai Chi works for Arthritis.
Ten million people are living in pain every day with arthritis. One in five people are with arthritis. The statistics are worse for older people. Even if you don’t have arthritis now, odds like these show, there’s a good chance you or someone close to you is affected.
Let’s get this right. Rather than say, “arthritis sufferers” (which would incorrectly suggest it’s a disease), we should say “people with arthritis” because it is a condition.
It’s incredible. There are over 100 types of arthritis and related musculoskeletal conditions. These fall into three major categories: osteoarthritis from wear and tear of the joints, inflammatory arthritis, and problems around the joint.
No matter what specific type they may have, fatigue is common in people with arthritis.
Pretty awful, isn’t it. But there’s good news ahead.
You and I understand exercise is beneficial for most aspects of health. Exercise is good for arthritis too. But pain and stiffness, understandably, discourage those with arthritis from exercising. That’s bad news. For without exercise, joints become even stiffer and muscles weaker. Exercise keeps bones, muscles, and joints healthy, improving flexibility and muscular strength.
Not all exercise is equal. The medical experts agree that effective exercise should fulfil three objectives:
Here’s the good news. Tai Chi for Arthritis fulfils these objectives and more. It doesn’t cost money to practice, once you’ve taken a few classes to learn it. You won’t need specialised equipment, and you don’t even need much space. What’s more, you can practice it either standing or sitting. It is accessible to all ages and abilities.
You can improve your flexibility. This reduces stiffness and helps keep joints mobile. Stiffness causes pain, and increasing flexibility relieves it.
Tai Chi for Arthritis gently moves all joints, muscles and tendons throughout the body. Tai Chi significantly increases flexibility, and this has been demonstrated in many scientific studies.   
The Atlanta FICSIT Group conducted a prospective, randomised, controlled clinical trial. This study divided 200 participants into three groups: Tai Chi, computerised balance training and control. The results indicated that Tai Chi significantly improves flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance, as well as decreases the occurrence of falls by a massive 47.5%.
In two studies Tai Chi for Arthritis was used, and the results showed it was effective in improving balance and reduce the risk of falling. 
Increased muscle strength helps keep joints stable, thereby protecting the joints. This minimizes future injury and reduces pain. Increased muscle strength enables increased activity, which in turn improves blood and body fluid circulation. Muscular strength is required to perform any task.
Many top-level athletes and sportsmen have suffered from osteoarthritis as a result of injuries, yet they are able to perform at peak levels because their strong muscles protect their joints. Frequently, after retirement from active sports, their activity level diminishes, and their muscles become weaker. This usually causes arthritis to flare up.
Studies have shown Tai Chi to be effective in strengthening muscles by 15 to 20%.      The Song study (footnote nine) showed Tai Chi for Arthritis improved physical function and balance by 30%.
Improving cardiorespiratory fitness helps strengthen the heart and lungs and increases stamina. Arthritic joints and tissues need a good supply of blood and oxygen for healing. Better circulation of blood, fluid and oxygen also helps keep joints flexible and muscles strong.
Tai Chi is a particularly useful fitness exercise. Many studies mentioned above have found significant improvement in the participants’ fitness level. One study has shown that tai chi has the same metabolic equivalency as a brisk walk.
A positive mind aids healing. Many studies demonstrate the powerful effect of the mind over the body. Tai Chi integrates body and mind. When practising tai chi, one focuses on clarity of the mind, the movements and the coordination of the body. This training improves relaxation and uplifts mood. A review of complementary and alternative treatments by doctors from Standford University concludes that mind-body techniques are efficacious primarily as a complementary treatment, but sometimes as a stand-alone, alternative treatment.
Being positive and relaxed, you are more likely to improve your perception of pain. Clearly, the incredible power of the mind has not been adequately estimated. This program is one of the most effective mind-body exercises. It teaches the student to harness the natural energy from which they can attain greater self-control and empowerment.
Dr Lam and a panel of medical and Tai Chi experts designed the Tai Chi for Arthritis program to be safe and effective, especially for people with arthritis. The program improves flexibility, muscular strength and fitness. It relieves pain and improves physical function, as proven within studies. What is more, it improves balance and reduces the risk of falling.
There are other studies which show other benefits of this program, including the prevention of chronic conditions and benefits to people with mental conditions. More than a million people around the world have benefited from this program.
Lee Welch, the founder of Tai Chi Globe and Tai Chi Globe Academy, is registered with the Tai Chi for Health Institute. He’s an official instructor for Dr Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Arthritis program. Classes in Tai Chi for Arthritis will begin on 18 October, 7 pm every Friday at St John Ambulance, Tindal Road in Aylesbury. Click on the image below to register and enjoy the first lesson for only £4!
If you don’t live close enough to Aylesbury to attend, all is not lost. Find another Board Certified Tai Chi Instructor near you here.
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