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Tai Chi for Multiple Sclerosis

Posted by Grandmaster Gary Khor on 1 Feb 2020

TAI CHI is an exercise system that uses slow flowing movements with focus on correct breathing, posture and a relaxed, meditative mind. Our Tai Chi is taught are designed to leave the student feeling relaxed and invigorated. 

STRESS REDUCTION.  Through movement, breathing, meditative and postural techniques the student is taught how to release muscular stress and initiate the relaxation response.  For the MS student this is particularly beneficial in combating fatigue, improving muscular co ordination and boosting the immune system,

MUSCLE TONE.  Tai Chi tones the muscles without exhausting them and without placing the MS student at risk of injury.  The risk of muscle wastage is therefore reduced. 

MUSCLE COORDINATION.  Tai Chi focuses both on coordinated movement of limbs and body torso and on the development of awareness of movement.  Tai Chi dramatically improves balance and stability.  For the MS student even though their capacity for coordinated balance and movement may be reduced the increased ability to get the best out of what they have can dramatically increase their effective ability to balance and co ordinate.

JOINT MOBILITY.  Tai Chi uses a wide range of movements that require full rotation of joints, without force, in a slow gentle manner.  This helps increase balance and co ordination and maintains the joint range of motion helping to improve the quality of life of the MS student.

CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS.  The bent knee position of Tai Chi used in the Academy has a cardiovascular loading of around 60 to 80 percent, an ideal level for developing the cardiovascular system without risk or fatigue.

RESPIRATORY FITNESS & SLEEP.  Disturbed sleep patterns can aggravate fatigue.  Tai Chi exercise is non-exhaustive in nature and is very beneficial, especially its breathing and meditative techniques. The proper use of the lung diaphragm in breathing not only stimulates the relaxation response, but also makes the breathing process much more energy efficient.  Both aspects are important to those with MS.  

BODY TEMPERATURE.  Since elevated body temperature tends to aggravate the symptoms of MS exercise like Tai Chi that does not involve overly vigorous exercise is ideal. 

BONE HEALTH.  Tai Chi is very effective in maintaining bone density and countering osteoporosis.

BOWEL PROBLEMS.  MS Students often suffer bowel problems both as a direct result of MS and because of inactivity.  Tai Chi combines deep breathing and considerable waist work within its movements helping the peristaltic action in both the large and small intestines

BLADDER CONTROL.  Physical exercise has been found useful for reducing bladder control problems.  Tai Chi with its abdominal work should be useful in this area.  There are also breathing techniques that can be used with Tai Chi that are particularly aimed at strengthening the fascial and muscular tissue in the urogenital area. 

STRETCHING.  Tai Chi uses a double stretch technique, particularly effective in relieving spasticity, managing pain and maintaining range of motion.   Rather than straighten joint a limb is simultaneously moved outward and withdrawn.  That is flexors and extensors are used in gentle opposition.  This bunches the muscles lengthening the tendons and ligaments without risking the joints.  The nature of the movement allows a fine level of control over how much effort one uses and there is no risk to the joints.  Both are ideal situations for the MS student.

MOBILITY PROBLEMS.  Spasticity, muscle weakness, co ordination and balance problems from MS can all make walking a particularly difficult endeavor for those with MS.  Tai Chi not only tones muscles but is a most effective way of improving balance and reducing falls.  Core-balancing muscles are correctly used.

FALLS PREVENTION Tai Chi posture keeps the centre of gravity between the feet and ensures walking safely and effectively. Techniques for reduction of stress carried in calf muscles also makes walking less tiring.

 

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