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Thursday 27th October 2016

Tai Chi 'helps arthritis pain'

22nd June 2009

Researchers in Australia say they have found that the Chinese martial arts exercise Tai Chi has benefits for people suffering from arthritis.


A clinical trial carried out by researchers at The George Institute for International Health said the results showed a positive effect on musculoskeletal pain among participants who practised Tai Chi.

The study forms part of the first comprehensive analysis of Tai Chi and shows an improvement in pain and disability among arthritis sufferers who do the exercises, which evolved in China from martial arts and incorporate concepts of bodily energy, or qi.

The team said it would now go on to study whether similar benefits were seen in people suffering from chronic pain in their lower back.

Author Chris Maher said the study provided the first robust evidence in support of Tai Chi as a beneficial exercise for people with arthritis.

Tai Chi also showed a positive trend among practitioners in the direction of good general health, for which it is still practised by millions in China today.

Musculoskeletal pain such as that which comes with arthritis represented a severe burden on the sufferer, and on the community of which they were a part, the team said in a statement.

In Australia alone, 3.85 million people are affected by such chronic pain and disability. Low back pain is thought to cost the economy billions every year, the researchers said.

George Institute spokeswoman Amanda Hall said the research should encourage people with musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis to seek exercise to relieve the pain.

Hall said Tai Chi was cheap, convenient and fun, bringing a host of benefits like social interactions and improved mental health.

Tai Chi is now being practised by growing numbers of people outside China and East Asia, and there is now a significant body of research investigating its health benefits.

Practised both alone and in groups or classes, it consists of set forms of slow martial arts movements like punching, kicking and blocking, encouraging stillness of mind and smoothness of motion.

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