Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

May 22, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi – A Book Review11

Grasp The Birds Tail (Roll Back) 3/4

Grasp The Birds Tail (Roll Back) 3/4

Medicalization of Tai Chi

“One interesting byproduct of the biomedical research and evolution of Tai Chi forms is the development of simplified protocols amenable to short, clinical trials. These protocols make it easier to learn Tai Chi in a safe way and even allow people who are older or whose bodies are reconditioned to experience the essential elements of Tai Chi and participate in clinical trials. The first one to be used in a randomized, controlled trial was developed by Tai Chi Master Tingsen Xu as part of the landmark trial published by researchers at Emory University to evaluate Tai Chi for balance in the elderly. The protocol included 14 moves, done independently and without sequencing. For each move, there was a clear hypothesis of the impact of the movement patterns for the development of valance. Since then, multiple protocols, some with as few as five movements, and most including a suite of warm-up and cool-down exercises, have been evaluated in clinical trials.”

“Perhaps due in part to this research, a trend of using Tai Chi protocols in medical work has evolved. A quick search on the Internet can identify trademarked programs entitled Tai chi for Balance, Tai Chi for Parkinson’s, Tai Chi for Multiple Sclerosis, Tai Chi for Arthritis, and Tai Chi for Depression. While some of these protocols are based on evidence from scientific studies, it is not yet clear that the unique characteristics of these forms are uniquely therapeutic for the specified conditions. No Western studies to date have compared any one Tai Chi form to another and demonstrated whether any specific protocol is better than any other, or better that Tai Chi programs available in the community. This represents an important future area of interest for the Tai Chi research community.”

[There is room for lots of important conversations here. I hope someone has them.]

About the Photo

If you look back at the previous photo you can get the sense that if there were any pulling to be done this is would be the Tai Chi way of doing it. It just turns out that the Tai Chi way of using the body happens to train excellent body mechanics for just about any other activity. Not all Tai Chi is equal of course and not all Tai Chi teachers appreciate the details, so not everyone gets the same results, but that’s the same for everything in life.


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