After attending a Tai Chi workshop, I became fascinated with this ancient Chinese art of movement. With facts boasting of 47 percent reduction in fall rate and a way to meld strength, balance and coordination it became clear I had found a new way to educate our clients here at Apex with a form of exercise that they could continue after completing their course of formal physical therapy. As a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), in Tai Chi I see elements of joint range of motion, weight shifting, core stabilization, balance and collective muscle group coordination that can help with a myriad of health issues our patients face. Reduction of pain is also another benefit.
I have just completed assisting teaching a 6 week tai chi course and have been thrilled to see how the participants have progressed in just a few weeks. This course of Tai Chi for Arthritis has many benefits and though the name includes ‘arthritis’ it is beneficial for many conditions. During the first two weeks, one participant remained seated for over half the time period of the one hour class; by the third week he was able to stand for the entire class and at the final class had significantly more balance and stamina. Another participant had recent neck surgery and could only do limited arm motions, but was able to do the leg and core work. By the end of the course, she had improved posture, reduced pain, was able to tolerate walking on a treadmill and had more energy.
Michele Shannon, our Apex Office Manager also attended these classes and noted that the Tai Chi for Arthritis classes offered more than just the expected outcome of improved balance. ” I found myself moving more purposefully and slower in every day life and at the end of the course I realized I was tripping and losing my balance less. I was very pleased with how now my whole body responds so well and I have a better mind and body connection. Using tai chi to reduce back stiffness has also been a benefit. “
Typical movements in tai chi involve specific foot placement, deliberate weight shifting before advancing the upper body with specific arm motions. All motions are done at a slow pace to have you focus and think about how you are moving. These habits can be adapted to everyday motions and tasks such as when reaching up to a shelf, squatting down to a cabinet, household chores or walking on uneven ground.
My hope is to have our patients here at Apex exposed to some of the basic principles of Tai Chi and to inspire them to continue either at home or at a local venue. I plan on becoming a certified instructor in the near future. At this time, Tai Chi classes will be offered here in Madras at Local Motion, a new exercise studio owned by sisters Carolyn Harvey and Joy Harvey. Starting in March, classes will be offered four days a week at 346 Culver Hwy, Madras; they can be reached at : 541-475-0185 or 541-475-2996.