Tai Chi Reduces Knee Osteoarthritis Pain

November 2, 2009 by  
Filed under featured, Fitness & Sport


I am a fan of Tai Chi for many reasons: it benefits health, stamina, flexibility, co-ordination and reduces stress.  Now it seems it can also help with osteoarthritis – particularly if you are over 65 years of age.
Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine in the USA studied a group of people of that age with knee osteoarthritis and found that if performed regularly Tai Chi exercise improved physical function and they experienced less pain.
Tai Chi, if you haven’t come across it before, is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that features slow, rhythmic movements and there are five major styles, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated: Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu/Hao and Sun.
The study was reported in the November issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology. For the study each participant was asked to take part in 60-minute Yang style Tai Chi sessions twice weekly for 12 weeks. Each session included: a 10-minute self-massage and a review of Tai Chi principles; 30 minutes of Tai Chi movement; 10 minutes of breathing technique; and 10 minutes of relaxation.

This is good preventive news, because as we get older we are most risk for developing knee osteoarthritis, which results in pain, functional limitations or disabilities and a reduced quality of life.  In the US there are 4.3 million adults over age 60 diagnosed with it and they predict that half of American adults may develop symptoms in at least one knee by age 85.  Figures for the UK are probably similar
Because Tai Chi works on the mental and emotional/spiritual aspects, as well as the physical, the researchers believe these address the negative effects of chronic pain by promoting psychological wellbeing, life satisfaction, and more positive perceptions of health.
At the end of the 12-week period, patients practicing Tai Chi exhibited a significant decrease in knee pain compared with those in a control group as well as noting improved physical function, self-efficacy, better health and less depression.
Finding a teacher
A personal recommendation is always best and you will find teachers listed usually in natural health centres and often run classes from church halls and similar venues.

These websites can help you find someone locally to you:
The Tai Chi Union of Great Britain at www.taichiunion.com
Tai chi listings by place and at www.taichifinder.co.uk
If you can’t find a class near you, there are also instruction DVD’s.  Not really the ideal way to learn, but one I have heard recommended for a short programme is from the US at www.easytaichi.com