Now, science reveals additional benefits. New studies show that Tai Chi may be as effective as physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to research published in 2016 in Annals of International Medicine. This is incredibly exciting news! Tai Chi instructors and practitioners have known for years the tremendous benefits of a Tai Chi practice and now science is proving them. Tai Chi is also recommended by the Arthritis Foundation.
Tai Chi for Arthritis Study
In the study, people with knee OA either took a Tai Chi class or went to PT twice a week. After 3 months, both groups experienced similar improvements in their symptoms such as physical function and pain reduction. The big difference? According to study author, Chenchen Want, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, those who did Tai Chi had a bigger improvement in their quality of life and less depression!
“Like physical therapy, Tai Chi uses finctional movements to increase strength, balance and flexibility,”
— Chenchen Want, MD
In addition to the benefits for those suffering with OA, Tai Chi has also been shown to increase lower-body range of motion in those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as well as improve fibromyalgia and Parkinsons disease symptoms.
Tai Chi for Mind and Body
A Tai Chi practice not only offers gentle, strengthening effects for the body, it also incorporates slow, calming belly breathing techniques and visualization to benefit the mind. And, because it is a group exercise, practitioners will often form deep friendships with those they practice with which give them social support and increases a sense of connection and reduction in the chance of depression.
Interested in Trying Tai Chi?
Find a seasoned instructor in your area. Here are some important things to look for in a Tai Chi instructor:
- Has been teaching for at least 5-10 years and studying for over 10 years
- Teaches patiently, breaking down the movements step-by-step
- Asks you if you have any physical limitations or concerns
- Offers modifications for physical restrictions
- Has convenient class times and locations (you will need to attend regularly for maximum benefit)
- Makes class fun (you will be more apt to stick with it)
If you are in the Northern Virginia, Fairfax area near Burke, Springfield and Centreville consider signing up for a class!