Posted by: Thixia | March 27, 2008

T’ai chi for MS

T’ai chi, a traditional Chinese martial art that has been practiced in China for centuries, is characterised by sequences of body postures that are connected by slow, graceful movements.  T’ai chi is believed to balance opposing life forces and create emotional balance.  The movements in t’ai chi may be modified for those with disabilities. 

One study of 19 people with MS found improved walking speed, muscle stiffness, vitality, social and emotional functioning, and ability to carry out physical and emotional roles.  A study of ‘mindfulness of movement,’ a component of t’ai chi, in 16 people with MS found improvement in multiple MS symptoms.  More rigorous studies of t’ai chi in MS are needed to gain a better understanding of how it may help.         

T’ai chi is usually well tolerated, though it may strain joints and muscles and temporarily worsen MS fatigue.  T’ai chi should be used with caution or avoided by those with acute low back pain, osteoporosis, significant joint injuries and bone fractures.   

T’ai chi instructor  s are not regulated and are not legally required to have any specific qualifications, in many countries.

Talk to the instructor before you begin t’ai chi, make sure the he/she is aware of your MS and any other major medical conditions you have.  The instructor should also tell you if t’ai chi cannot help you.  Of course, if you are doing t’ai chi at home you can’t talk to the instructor!

There are some excellent instructional DVD’s on t’ai chi that are available.  If your local library has a collection of t’ai chi DVD’s take several out at a time because some have better instruction than others.  Make sure you get a DVD that is for beginners.  

Adapted from:

UK MS Society

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