Tai Chi: Go With The Flow

 "We see in order to move, we move in order to see."                                                                     William Gibson

 "We see in order to move, we move in order to see."                                                                     William Gibson

There is some evidence to suggest that older adults at risk for falls can benefit from practicing tai chi, a Chinese martial art that involves moving your body slowly and gently, in a meditative, purposeful way. “Tai chi forces you to move on and off of one foot from different positions,” says Lynn Millar, PT, PhD, FACSM, professor of physical therapy at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan; this foot switching is similar to what happens in daily life. Even though the moves are slow, you are working those fast-twitch muscles because you are forced to constantly change your center of gravity. There is an emphasis on control and being able to shift in all directions; there are moves that have you standing on one foot temporarily, and even making a 180-degree turn. “All of this will help with strength, balance and proprioception [the brain-body connection tied to balance],” Dr. Millar says. Additionally, tai chi trains you to focus and to be aware of surroundings and your body. Since we sometimes trip simply because we aren’t paying attention, this improved awareness can help prevent falls.

Posted on October 7, 2014 and filed under fitness.