Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

December 26, 2018

Tai Chi: “It’s more aerobic than you think.” Harvard Research



December 20, 2018

Harvard University Studies Tai Chi (& Falling)

February 12, 2018

Harvard and Tai Chi… Again!


And when I say, ‘Again’, this is what I refer to…

July 14, 2015

Harvard Professor says, “Don’t wait for illness,…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — doctordilday @ 10:06 am

“Don’t wait for illness, invest in the maintenance of health. … There needs to be an emphasis on maintaining good health, preventing disease and slowing progression of disease when it does happen. There’s no choice; it has to happen.”  – Harvard Professor Rifat Atun

From this article on the Global Burden of Disease 2013 (the latest one).

June 21, 2015

Harvard and Chiropractic

Filed under: Uncategorized — doctordilday @ 7:47 am

I have mentioned a few times here on this Blog that chiropractic is a wise choice if you have back pain. But don’t take my word for it, Harvard seems to agree.

November 30, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi – A Book Review1



[I first Posted this on May 11 this year, but I like it so I’m putting it here…]

Here and for the next series of posts I will be attempting to do two things. First this is a review, of sorts, of the new book, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, by Peter M. Wayne, PhD with Mark L. Fuerst. I say “of sorts” because I am half way through reading the book and have simply highlighted certain things. My plan is to share here the parts I have highlighted and if I have the inclination and time I will add comments in brackets as I always do. And I am not the only one who thinks you should read this excellent book: take a look at this article.

The photos that accompany these posts are a sequence, in order, from the first section of the Hand Form (right handed). I will likely comment on each photo. A student learning the Form may be able to make use of these photos in learning the beginning and ending of, as well as the transitions between, Styles.

First, about the book. It’s a great book as far as I am concerned looked at from what ever angle you choose. These guys have made a landmark contribution. As you read, for example, try and imagine the pressure to be politically correct in conveying the history, context, and the implications of impact Tai chi could have if adopted by the general public, the scientific community, the health care industry and the public health authorities as a means of restoring and maintaining health in all the appropriate populations. Mindblowing puts it mildly, and I don’t think we have to worry about that happening on a big scale. But I write for you who may be interested in health and fitness, rehabilitation and recovery, and for those who may be interested in saving their companies tens of millions of dollars in direct and indirect costs from the lack of health and fitness of themselves and their employees.

From the Forward, buy Ted Kaptchuk, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Author, The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine

“Western patients now are asking for more prevention and health sustenance.”

“Sorely missing has been a book that bridges the wisdom of Tai Chi with the scientific insights of biomedicine. This exceptional book has finally been written, remarkably within the context of a leading medical school; it provides the needed platform to link East and West.”

“Tai Chi is broken down into component therapeutic parts, while science is used to demonstrate the intersection of mind and body and the importance of the imagination and ritual.”

“In the end, you will have tasted and experienced the vastness of a poem with limitless implications.”

“Chapter 1 is a clear, readable overview of Tai Chi’s history and current developments. The chapter goes beyond the mythic (though it tells us some of the myths) and presents Tai Chi as a constantly evolving practice that necessarily undergoes change as it reaches the Western world and must engage science and medical research.”

“Chapter 2 introduces a particularly unique contribution of this book – the articulation of what Peter has coined the ‘Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi’.”

“Chapters 4 through 9 present a very readable, exciting summary of medical and basic science research on Tai chi.”

“For example, Chapter 8, his discussion of clinical and physiological studies of motor imagery research is beautifully linked with the traditional Chinese concept of intention (yi).”

“In Chapters 10 through 14, Peter realigns and brings together all the previous discussions of science and situates them into practical activities of daily life. Tai Chi now informs the social interactions you navigate at work and at home, as well as your creative endeavors, including in the arts and sports.”

Now about the photo

“Beginning Tai Chi Style” isn’t the first Style. “The Ready Style” comes before it, and before that even is “Tai Chi at Rest”. We could talk all day about these first couple of Styles but apparently my photographer didn’t think they were important enough to include in the collection. That’s Ok. Just know that standing in the “At Rest” position is a standing meditation that could last as long you like and in my practice I hold that position, eyes closed, for three breaths. This is a time for getting centered, present, relaxed and prepared for the journey that is about to begin. The longer you practice Tai Chi the more you value this transition from the life before the Form to the experience of being inside the Form.

When you are “ready” you lower the hands and open the eyes into the Ready Style. Now you are ready.

Beginning Tai Chi Style is the beginning of movement (the separation of Yin and Yang). It entails circular arm movements, a hip hinged squat, a shift of weight onto one leg, a step and shift of weight onto the other leg, trunk rotation and pivot, and a sequencing of simultaneous whole body motion that finishes in a push that creates what we call the Yin/Yang hand position.

This photo shows the arms circling up and out. Relaxation is always the prime directive so the practice is to do the motion with as little muscular effort as possible. The timing of the breath and the motion may be matched. The mind is focused on the movement.

In general, my comments will be directed to the student learning the Form. In time things change and in particular many details are taught a certain way as the “right” way; later you learn there can be many right ways and just as many ways that are less right depending on several factors. In other words the rules apply until they don’t.

The worst mistake a new student can make is to try to copy some Master’s movements before gaining a full sensory competence of the basic structure and framework of the Form, as well as a cognitive appreciation for what is going on. If you are new to Tai Chi watching a Master do Tai Chi you really aren’t seeing much of what is going on and you aren’t likely to appreciate very much of what you do see.

All of this isn’t to argue in favor of you getting it perfect or else. What’s important is that doing things wrong enough has consequences. “Tai Chi knee” is a common injury among Tai Chi practitioners who don’t learn the knee rule. This book does a fine job of covering the knee rule.

Doing the Form really well also has consequences in terms of deeper learning, faster progress, much more functionality, and not having to go back and unlearn something later.

Feel free to leave a comment or question.

June 30, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi – Afterward afterward



“… in order for Tai Chi and related practices to influence our current health-care crisis significantly, we need to include people of all ages.” “… To prevent chronic diseases and enhance healthy lifestyles effectively, I believe that Tai Chi and related mind-body practices should begin in childhood.”

Integration of Tai Chi and Mind-Body Exercise for Grade-School Kids

“Physical education curriculum increasingly is being short-changed in schools for budgetary and curriculum-based reasons. The shortsightedness of cutting out gym class is an example of the limited appreciation of the mind-body connection. Lack of exercise during school likely contributes to the current childhood obesity epidemic and likely hurts the academic performance of kids. Multiple studies show that exercise is essential for an adolescent’s mind-body health and set a trajectory for lifelong healthy behaviors.”

“My vision is that Tai Chi and related mind-body exercises will become deeply integrated into the grade-school curriculum, and not only in physical education classes or during recess.”

“Several Tai Chi programs for kids currently are available, and many have been successfully implemented in public schools.”

Tai Chi Is a Nice Alternative to High School Gym Class

“A handful of high schools in the Greater Boston area already give students the option of taking a Tai Chi or yoga class instead of participating in standard gym classes.”

Tai Chi Goes to College and Medical School

“In fact, Tai Chi is becoming increasingly popular in colleges across the country.” “… In China, Tai Chi has found its way into the curriculum of nearly all universities. Researchers have begun to show the benefits of Tai Chi for college students. A growing number of studies have reported that college students who do Tai Chi for a few months have improved sleep quality and mood, and feel less stressed.”

“In the United States, Tai Chi is also beginning to make its way into medical schools and nursing schools as part of the trend toward more mind-body training.”

“Integration of Tai Chi into medical professional training is especially valuable.” “… Good evidence suggests that patients are more likely to follow those who lead by example.”


“Claims of Tai Chi’s health benefits are increasingly evidence-based, with more that 700 peer-reviewed, scientific publications in print and more than 180 randomized trials conducted, to date.”

“Tai Chi not only serves as a catalyst and example of integrative medicine but also holds a unique niche. Tai Chi has something to offer you whether you are young or old, hoping to prevent disease or rehabilitating from one, trying to manage everyday stress more gracefully, or interested in self-discovery, enhancing creativity, or improving sports performance.”

[A point that I am constantly trying to make.]

“Tai Chi may offer a different enough approach to exercise and self-care to inspire people to sustain health lifestyle changes.” “… Tai Chi can be a lot more fun and meaningful that walking on a treadmill day after day, so you are more likely to stick with it.”

“The emphasis on scientific evidence and more knowledge about how the body works, paired with Eastern wisdom, may make Tai Chi even more attractive to new or potential Tai Chi students, as well as referring health-care professionals.”

[That is the end of the book review – I promise☺]

June 28, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi – Afterward

"Compassion" Mandala

“Compassion” Mandala

From The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, by Peter M. Wayne, PhD, with Mark L. Fuerst


Tai Chi and Twenty-First-Century Medicine

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison

“The US health-care system is in serious trouble.” “… A 2009 study by Harvard Medical School faculty found that more than 60 percent of personal bankruptcies are due to medical costs, and in the majority of these cases, those claiming bankruptcy were medically insured.”

“What’s even more disturbing is that these massive expenditure for health do not translate into making US citizens the healthiest people in the world. Using virtually every measure of health-care outcome, including longevity, infant mortality, fitness, and chronic disease rates, the United STated appears at or near the bottom compared to other developed countries. The World Health Organization recently rated America thirty-seventh in health outcomes, on par with Serbia. In addition, for the first time in history, Americans are witnessing a decline in life expectancy. We are paying more and more for health and we have less and less to show for it.”

“The Chinese word for crisis ([I don’t know where to get those letters)] is sometimes interpreted as being composed of two characters, one representing ‘danger’ and the other representing ‘opportunity.’ More generally, according to the yin-yang principle, when a system becomes imbalanced and unstable, it affords an opportunity for transformation or change. Our current health-care system is at such a juncture, and one of the solutions is a greater emphasis on self-care and prevention.”


“In a provocative article by Susan Blumenthal, former Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, who is a widely respected health-care leader, she stated, ‘Today’s health-care reform efforts must reestablish public health and prevention as priorities – transforming our country from a ‘sick’-care system to a health-care system.'”

“… chronic conditions contribute to 7 percent of health-care costs in the United States, yet only 2-3 percent of the US government’s health-care budget is invest in prevention – a a percentage that has not changed since 1934.” “… Each of us has a personal responsibility for lifestyle choices, and all sectors or society, including families, schools, businesses, health-care providers, foundations, media, and the government, will have to play a role.”


“… my colleague Donald Levy, MD, Director of Osher Clinical Center for Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital. In both his academic lectures and clinical consultations Dr. Levy emphasizes the fundamental importance of physical exercise, stress reduction, psychosocial support, healthy eating habits, weight management, and a good night’s sleep.” “… Dr. Levy, along with a growing number of practitioners of integrative medicine, believes that by involving patients in there own self-care, they are more likely not only to improve their health but also to learn more about how their bodies work to maintain health.”

“One of the more versatile self-care tools in Dr. Levy’s toolbox for lifestyle change is Tai Chi. Typically, patients looking to manage their blood pressure without medications, ease and rehabilitate chronic back pain, or manage chronic depression or anxiety leave with a ‘prescription’ to learn Tai Chi as part of an integrated health care strategy. Because Dr. Levy practices in an evidence-based manner, patients who are ‘prescribed’ Tai Chi often leave with a research article that supports the application of Tai Chi for the specific medical condition.”

June 20, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi


From The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, by Peter M. Wayne, PhD, with Mark L. Fuerst

Chapter 14

LifeLong Learning with Tai Chi

I left out a lot in the series of Posts reviewing this book. I was going to leave out the rest, since not everyone is that interested. But this chapter talks about how to learn, and how to find a teacher and a Style, so here I will complete my review with these excerpts.

“The two factors needed to learn Tai Chi, according to Professor Cheng Man Ching, are perseverance and right teaching. To progress in your Tai Chi training, you need to practice. Even with the right teachers, you are responsible for what you get out of Tai Chi.”

Develop a Tai Chi Practice

“Some basic rules apply in developing a Tai Chi practice. You need to find your own optimal frequency and duration to practice, the best times of day, and the most convenient place so do Tai Chi, whether in class, at home, or in a local park.”

Some practice is better than no practice. Like any learning process, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. The regimen you choose depends on what your goals are.”

Pace yourself. Like most exercises, it’s better to do a little Tai Chi frequently than to do a lot all at once and nothing in between.”

Be patient with your progress. Change happens slowly with Tai Chi.

Don’t compare yourself to others. People learn in different ways and at different rates.”

“Don’t be too overly self-critical.”

Make Tai Chi part of your regular routine. A structured routine will help you prioritize your practice. It’s like putting “Go to the gym” on your calendar. Pick a regular place and time to practice Tai Chi so that it becomes a kind of ritual.”

Keep a notebook or sketchbook. “… The process of filtering an intengible experience through your own words or pictures helps to incorporate it into your body.”

“Find ways to integrate Tai Chi throughout the day.”

“Join a Tai Chi program.”

How to Find a Tai Chi Program

“Just as it is when you shop for a doctor, or a car, it’s worth doing some research to find a Tai Chi teacher.”

“The first place to look for a Tai Chi teacher or program is on the Internet.”

“Here’s what to look for when you search for a Tai Chi teacher or Tai Chi program.”

An experienced teacher. All things being equal, someone with more experience is likely to teach you more effectively.”

“Good teachers tend to have long-term students.”

“A teacher with good teaching skills and good people skills.”

“A comfortable environment in a practical location.”

“Look for the right size class.”

Trust your instincts. If you find a teacher, but it doesn’t feel right, respect your instincts.”

“Consider the costs.”

“Understand your goals.”

“Pick a style.”

“Your progress in Tai Chi will depend on your ongoing commitment and perseverance.”

About the Photo

This is in front of Legion Hall at Legion Park in Everett, WA. It sets on the bluff above Port Gardner Bay and looks over the bay to the San Juan Islands and the Olympic Mountains. At 8 a.m. it is almost always totally empty and for the past 6 years or so I have practiced Tai Chi most mornings there. If you can find a place that is covered, that would be better, but I have practiced in airport terminals, parking lots, banquet rooms, and balconies. You just need a flat spot that’s about 15 feet from left to right and about 12 feet from front to back – and it doesn’t even have to be that flat.

June 13, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi – A Book Review31

Oblique Single Whip 1/4

Oblique Single Whip 1/4

Oblique Single Whip 2/4

Oblique Single Whip 2/4

Oblique Single Whip 3/4

Oblique Single Whip 3/4

Oblique Single Whip 4/4

Oblique Single Whip 4/4

Chapter 12

On-the-job Tai Chi

“Work is an obvious, very relevant place to explore the integration of Tai Chi at work. If you have a full time job, you probably spend much of your time day at work. Work is likely part of your identity. But work can be stressful. In fact, the Institute for Stress reports that job-related pressure is the top source of stress for Americans. Surveys of workers show that 80 percent feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in managing stress. Other ominous health statistics show that occupational pressures and hazards are responsible for 30 percent of worker’s back pain, and that 60 percent of workers routinely complain of work-related neck pain, 44 percent say they have eyestrain, 38 percent feel hand pain, and 34 percent have difficulty sleeping.”

About the Photos

This completes Section I of the Long Round Hand Form. By the time you have learned this much of the Form, a Single Whip will have begun to feel possible and look reasonable. The hips will have been opened up (improved range of motion). The legs much stronger. You will be able to relax much better. And your breathing will be deeper, slower and fuller.

At the college we teach this much of the Form in ten weeks, and most students can perform all but the final couple of moves by themselves by then. It’s a great start toward learning the rest of the Form.

And if you did nothing else in the way of exercise this ten to fifteen minutes of exercise, done as a daily practice, would be priceless in terms of all the benefits it bestows. Imagine coming to work and participating in a ten to fifteen minute tai chi class before starting your work duties. Imagine completing your work day with another ten to fifteen minutes of tai chi class before driving home from work. This is precisely what The Mayo Clinic researchers began recommending last year. Now The Harvard Medical School’s Guide to Tai Chi makes the same recommendation.

All it takes is an employer who really wants to lower their health care costs, decrease on-the-job-injuries, and improve productivity and employee job satisfaction. That and a phone call (425-348-5207).

June 12, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi – A Book Review30

Transition to Grasp The Bird's Tail

Transition to Grasp The Bird’s Tail

Grasp the Bird's Tail 1/2

Grasp the Bird’s Tail 1/2

Grasp the Bird's Tail 2/2

Grasp the Bird’s Tail 2/2


Proof of the Promise: Tai Chi through the Lens of Modern Science

Chapter 4

Improve Your Balance and Bones

“Balance and your relationship to gravity involve many interacting factors, including strength and flexibility, sensory perception, neuromuscular coordination or synergy, and cognitive process. Understanding these components, including how they degrade with age or disease, and understanding how Tai Chi affects them will help you appreciate why Tai Chi is often so effective at improving balance.”

“In fact, the Surgeon General’s report specifically recommends Tai Chi as a good exercise for fall prevention.”

About the Photo

This business of turning around, how you pivot the feet, shift the weight and generate force is all very confusing in the beginning. In addition, most haven’t got the flexibility, coordination, or balance to pull it off until it’s been practiced for a long time. That’s part of the beauty of the whole thing. Once you do get these stepping weight shifting movement down and see that it’s moving into and out of Front Stance and Back Stance, and the feet are always lining up and moving in certain ways, it eventually all makes sense and comes naturally. Meanwhile, your body has transformed into a stable, flexible, coordinated and balanced model that can function in daily activities of live without challenge. You then enjoy the point of fitness, not the working out, but being healthy and capable.

June 11, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi – A Book Review29

Transition to Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step

Transition to Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step

Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step
Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step

Turn Body
Turn Body

Chapter 3

Put the Principles into Practice: A Simplified Tai Chi Program

“This chapter provides a simplified Tai Chi program, structured in an easy-to-learn format, similar to the approach we have used in our research studies at Harvard Medical School. This 12-week exercise program includes traditional exercises handed down from my Tai Chi teachers and, in some cases, further shaped and informed by my medical research experience. I chose these exercises to deliver and maximize the “dose” of the Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi.”

“The Tai Chi exercises are broken down into three main sections.” “… seven traditional Tai Chi warm up exercises…” “The second section focuses on five core Tai Chi movements following the traditional Cheng Man Ching Yang-style short form.” “The program concludes with five minutes of a simple set of cool-down exercises.”

“The design of this collection of exercises allows it to stand alone as a complete Tai Chi program.”

[Everybody thinks that they can improve on stuff. I question the assumptions myself.]

[His warm ups are simply Qigong exercises or pieces of the Form which are used to practice, understand and experience certain concepts and effects. There is nothing wrong with this approach per se but when you deconstruct, reconfigure, mix, and interpret you presume a lot. Some might say that you dishonor the tradition and lose some of the essence of what makes Tai Chi Chuan magical. But for the sake of simple and for the purposes of trying to dissect elements for the microscope of science, I guess it makes sense.

His “Tai Chi Exercises” are more of the same: segments of the Form repeated in a Qigong fashion. Realize that the principle difference – on the surface – between Qigong exercises and a Tai Chi Form are that Qigong is a standing-in-one-place, exercise repeated a certain number of times, followed by another standing-in-one-place exercise repeated a certain number of times, again and again until you are finished. Again, there is nothing wrong with this approach, in fact, it’s the basis for essentially every drill, including the Push Hands drills. In fact all traditional Tai Chi Chuan “schools” have a syllabus containing many such drills, exercises, and Forms. One of the reasons people begin Tai Chi practice and then fail to follow through to completely learn meaningful components of what’s available is that these “simplified” programs are too boring to hold interest long enough for the student to really experience the deeper aspects of what is possible. You learn a Short Form and after a short time of practicing it, you start looking for something else to do. A traditional syllabus that has long Forms, with and without weapons, as well as the other “Pillars” of Tai Chi Chuan in it is a complete system and takes time to learn. Once learned and practiced the value to the practitioner becomes evident and the effects become obvious. Once you have learned a long round Hand Form, you have really learned something worth knowing. It is a part of something going back perhaps hundreds of years. It is something special. Reading about it or having someone tell you about it isn’t going to allow you to understand that, only years of regular practice will.]

About the Photos

This series of photos demonstrates the pivoting, stepping with transfer of weight, etc. It is a very interesting process becoming more and more flexible and realizing what that flexibility allows. As you learn “how” to do something you become aware of your limitations in getting into the positions you are instructed to achieve; later getting “there” isn’t an issue and the question of how far is far enough or the “right” amount shows up. Then you can play with why things are done the way they are. I know none of this makes sense until you experience it.

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