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Arthritis is a joint-related condition that affects billions of people as they grow older. It typically involves pain, inflammation and stiffness.
What causes arthritis?
People are not entirely sure. The condition cannot be cured but it often responds to treatment. Some possible causes of arthritis: obesity, overuse, repeated joint injuries and stress.
Diet is also an important consideration. A balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will be helpful.
In addition to conventional medical treatment, there are alternative therapies available - such as tai chi for health.
Tai chi for health
The body must be exercised carefully, with a clear emphasis upon safety and relaxation. Dr Paul Lam (an expert in using tai chi for arthritis) emphasises the importance of:
A lot of qigong to improve breathing, relaxation and healing
Looking deeper into the art of tai chi in order to improve students awareness and understanding
We taught tai chi for health to the over 50's for 7 years at Age Concern in Newcastle and Age Concern North Tyneside.
One of the referrals from Freeman Hospital was a rheumatoid arthritis group containing about 15 patients.
The tai chi tuition was so successful that the group disbanded within a year. Most of the students returned to work and the rest joined the main tai chi class.
We teach a 3-stage process when it comes to the use of the joints. Initially, we encourage physical awareness and mindfulness.
The student learns how to combine alignment, relaxation and coordination in order to ease pain and increase mobility. Once new habits have been developed, the focus is upon building-up strength.
There is irrefutable
evidence that exercise benefits most aspects of health.
Exercise is an essential part of therapeutic approach for arthritis.
Pain and stiffness of the joints tend to discourage patients from exercising.
However without exercise, joints can become even more stiff and painful.
This happens because exercise actually keeps bones, muscles and joints healthy.
It is important to keep muscles as strong as
possible because the stronger the muscles and tissues around joints are, the
better they will be able to support and protect those joints.
If people do not exercise, their muscles become weaker,
and their bones can become osteoporotic.
Exercise pumps blood and body fluid through to the muscles, tendons and the joints,
which will facilitate healing.
(Dr Paul Lam)
Students are encouraged to learn what their natural range
of movement is and to work safely within their capacity.
Most people put their body under subtle stress throughout the day without realising it; the strain builds up gradually and eventually causes damage.
It is important to improve existing mobility and strength without making things worse.
Awareness is essential when practising tai chi; the student must learn to use the optimal body structure at all times. This structure will ensure that no adverse wear and tear occurs.
Correct use of the body when lifting or applying pressure is also considered.
Page created 19 April 1995
Last updated 02 September 2021