Kinematic and electromyographic analysis of the push movement in tai chi.
BACKGROUND: Tai chi is a form of exercise derived from the martial art folk traditions of China. The force used in tai chi includes different principles of mechanical advantage. No studies on the kinematic features of tai chi exercise have been published. OBJECTIVE: To analyse the kinematics and electromyographic characteristics of tai chi. METHODS: An experienced tai chi master was asked to perform a sequence of basic movements: ward off, roll back, press, and push. The movements were videotaped and digitised using a motion analysis system. Electromyographic activities of the lumbar erector spinae, rectus femoris, medial hamstrings, and medial head of gastrocnemius were recorded by surface electrodes. The push movement data were analysed. RESULTS: The medial hamstrings and medial head of gastrocnemius muscle groups maintained low activity, with higher electromyographic values in the lumbar erector spinae and substantially higher ones in the rectus femoris during the push movement. Both concentric and eccentric contractions occurred in muscles of the lower limbs, with eccentric contraction occurring mainly in the anti-gravity muscles such as the rectus femoris and the medial head of gastrocnemius. The forward and backward shifts in centre of gravity (CG) were mainly accomplished by increasing and decreasing respectively the joint angles of the bilateral lower limbs rather than by adopting a forward or backward postural lean. The path of the CG in the anteroposterior and mediolateral component was unique, and the sway or deviation from the path was small. The master maintained an upright posture and maintained a low CG (hips, knees, and ankles bent) while travelling slowly and steadily from one position to another. CONCLUSION: The eccentric muscle contraction of the lower limbs in the push movement of tai chi may help to strengthen the muscles. (+info)
Physiological benefits of 24-style Taijiquan exercise in middle-aged women.
This study examined the physiological benefits of 24-style Taijiquan (24TJQ) exercises by comparing heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR), exercise intensity, electroencephalograph, surface electromyography and surface thermograph, as well as the results of physical fitness test in 20 middle-aged women (10 skilled participants and 10 novices). The data from the skilled participants showed greater values in sit-ups (p<0.01), side step (p<0.01) and stand trunk flexion (p<0.05), moreover, the statistic data demonstrated not only greater HR (p<0.05) or lower RR during exercise, but also higher beta%-power during the experiment, higher alpha%-power in the eye-closed period and central alpha dominant after exercise. These results suggest that 24TJQ is effective to promote physiological benefits in middle-aged women. It attracts strong interest and is helpful to induce psychological relaxation and mental concentration. (+info)
Effect of tai chi exercise on proprioception of ankle and knee joints in old people.
OBJECTIVES: To assess if tai chi, a traditional Chinese form of exercise, could improve proprioception in old people and if the effects of tai chi on proprioception are more evident than other exercise forms in the elderly. METHODS: By detecting the threshold of passive movement, ankle and knee joint kinaesthesis was measured in 21 elderly long term tai chi practitioners (TC group), 20 elderly long term swimmers/runners (S/R group), and 27 elderly sedentary controls (control group). RESULTS: Ankle joint kinaesthesis differed significantly among the three groups (p = 0.001). Subjects in the TC group could detect a significantly smaller amount of motion than those in the S/R group (p = 0.022) and control group (p = 0.001). No significant difference was found between the S/R group and the control group (p = 0.701). The threshold for detection of passive motion was significantly different in knee extension and flexion. For knee flexion, the TC group showed a significantly lower mean threshold for detection of passive motion than the control group (p = 0.026). There were no significant differences between the S/R group and control group (p = 0.312), or between the TC group and S/R group (p = 0.533). For knee extension, no significant difference was noted among the three groups (p = 0.597). CONCLUSIONS: The elderly people who regularly practiced tai chi not only showed better proprioception at the ankle and knee joints than sedentary controls, but also better ankle kinaesthesis than swimmers/runners. The large benefits of tai chi exercise on proprioception may result in the maintenance of balance control in older people. (+info)
The efficacy of Tai Chi Chuan in older adults: a systematic review.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) on fall prevention, balance and cardiorespiratory functions in the elderly. METHODS: A systematic review was carried out according to the Cochrane standards. A computerized literature search was carried out. Studies were selected when they had an experimental design; the age of the study population was >50; one of the interventions was a form of TCC; and when falls, balance or cardiorespiratory functions were used as an outcome measure. A total of seven studies were included, with in total 505 participants, of whom all but 27 were healthy seniors, age between 53 and 96 years. RESULTS: In most studies, the intervention of TCC is a modified Yang style, varying from 10 to 24 forms. The intensity of TCC varies from 1 h weekly for 10 weeks to 1 h every morning for 1 year. One study used falls as outcome measure and reported a beneficial effect of 47% in the TCC group. All studies mention a beneficial effect of TCC, but in most studies this conclusion was based on a pre-post analysis. CONCLUSION: There is limited evidence that TCC is effective in reducing falls and blood pressure in the elderly. (+info)
Health benefits of Tai Chi exercise: improved balance and blood pressure in middle-aged women.
Tai Chi has been widely practiced as a Chinese martial art that focuses on slow sequential movements, providing a smooth, continuous and low intensity activity. It has been promoted to improve balance and strength and to reduce falls in the elderly, especially those 'at risk'. The potential benefits in healthy younger age cohorts and for wider aspects of health have received less attention. The present study documented prospective changes in balance and vascular responses for a community sample of middle-aged women. Seventeen relatively sedentary but healthy normotensive women aged 33-55 years were recruited into a three times per week, 12-week Tai Chi exercise programme. A further 17 sedentary subjects matched for age and body size were recruited as a control group. Dynamic balance measured by the Functional Reach Test was significantly improved following Tai Chi, with significant decreases in both mean systolic (9.71 mmHg) and diastolic (7.53 mmHg) blood pressure. The data confirm that Tai Chi exercise can be a good choice of exercise for middle-aged adults, with potential benefits for ageing as well as the aged. (+info)
Complementary and alternative medical therapies for chronic low back pain: What treatments are patients willing to try?
BACKGROUND: Although back pain is the most common reason patients use complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies, little is known about the willingness of primary care back pain patients to try these therapies. As part of an effort to refine recruitment strategies for clinical trials, we sought to determine if back pain patients are willing to try acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, meditation, and t'ai chi and to learn about their knowledge of, experience with, and perceptions about each of these therapies. METHODS: We identified English-speaking patients with diagnoses consistent with chronic low back pain using automated visit data from one health care organization in Boston and another in Seattle. We were able to confirm the eligibility status (i.e., current low back pain that had lasted at least 3 months) of 70% of the patients with such diagnoses and all eligible respondents were interviewed. RESULTS: Except for chiropractic, knowledge about these therapies was low. Chiropractic and massage had been used by the largest fractions of respondents (54% and 38%, respectively), mostly for back pain (45% and 24%, respectively). Among prior users of specific CAM therapies for back pain, massage was rated most helpful. Users of chiropractic reported treatment-related "significant discomfort, pain or harm" more often (23%) than users of other therapies (5-16%). Respondents expected massage would be most helpful (median of 7 on a 0 to 10 scale) and meditation least helpful (median of 3) in relieving their current pain. Most respondents indicated they would be "very likely" to try acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic for their back pain if they did not have to pay out of pocket and their physician thought it was a reasonable treatment option. CONCLUSIONS: Most patients with chronic back pain in our sample were interested in trying therapeutic options that lie outside the conventional medical spectrum. This highlights the need for additional studies evaluating their effectiveness and suggests that researchers conducting clinical trials of these therapies may not have difficulties recruiting patients. (+info)
Injuries in martial arts: a comparison of five styles.
OBJECTIVE: To compare five martial arts with respect to injury outcomes. METHODS: A one year retrospective cohort was studied using an injury survey. Data on 263 martial arts participants (Shotokan karate, n = 114; aikido, n = 47; tae kwon do, n = 49; kung fu, n = 39; tai chi, n = 14) were analysed. Predictor variables included age, sex, training frequency (3 h/week), experience (<3 years v >or=3 years), and martial art style. Outcome measures were injuries requiring time off from training, major injuries (>or=7 days off), multiple injuries (>or=3), body region, and type of injury. Logistic regression was used to determine odds ratios (OR) and confidence intervals (CI). Fisher's exact test was used for comparisons between styles, with a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. RESULTS: The rate of injuries, expressed as percentage of participants sustaining an injury that required time off training a year, varied according to style: 59% tae kwon do, 51% aikido, 38% kung fu, 30% karate, and 14% tai chi. There was a threefold increased risk of injury and multiple injury in tae kwon do than karate (p<0.001). Subjects >or=18 years of age were at greater risk of injury than younger ones (p<0.05; OR 3.95; CI 1.48 to 9.52). Martial artists with at least three years experience were twice as likely to sustain injury than less experienced students (p<0.005; OR 2.46; CI 1.51 to 4.02). Training >3 h/week was also a significant predictor of injury (p<0.05; OR 1.85; CI 1.13 to 3.05). Compared with karate, the risks of head/neck injury, upper extremity injury, and soft tissue injury were all higher in aikido (p<0.005), and the risks of head/neck, groin, and upper and lower extremity injuries were higher in tae kwon do (p<0.001). No sex differences were found for any of the outcomes studied. CONCLUSIONS: There is a higher rate of injury in tae kwon do than Shotokan karate. Different martial arts have significantly different types and distribution of injuries. Martial arts appear to be safe for young athletes, particularly those at beginner or intermediate levels. (+info)
Tai Chi and vestibular rehabilitation improve vestibulopathic gait via different neuromuscular mechanisms: preliminary report.
BACKGROUND: Vestibular rehabilitation (VR) is a well-accepted exercise program intended to remedy balance impairment caused by damage to the peripheral vestibular system. Alternative therapies, such as Tai Chi (TC), have recently gained popularity as a treatment for balance impairment. Although VR and TC can benefit people with vestibulopathy, the degree to which gait improvements may be related to neuromuscular adaptations of the lower extremities for the two different therapies are unknown. METHODS: We examined the relationship between lower extremity neuromuscular function and trunk control in 36 older adults with vestibulopathy, randomized to 10 weeks of either VR or TC exercise. Time-distance measures (gait speed, step length, stance duration and step width), lower extremity sagittal plane mechanical energy expenditures (MEE), and trunk sagittal and frontal plane kinematics (peak and range of linear and angular velocity), were measured. RESULTS: Although gait time-distance measures were improved in both groups following treatment, no significant between-groups differences were observed for the MEE and trunk kinematic measures. Significant within groups changes, however, were observed. The TC group significantly increased ankle MEE contribution and decreased hip MEE contribution to total leg MEE, while no significant changes were found within the VR group. The TC group exhibited a positive relationship between change in leg MEE and change in trunk velocity peak and range, while the VR group exhibited a negative relationship. CONCLUSION: Gait function improved in both groups consistent with expectations of the interventions. Differences in each group's response to therapy appear to suggest that improved gait function may be due to different neuromuscular adaptations resulting from the different interventions. The TC group's improvements were associated with reorganized lower extremity neuromuscular patterns, which appear to promote a faster gait and reduced excessive hip compensation. The VR group's improvements, however, were not the result of lower extremity neuromuscular pattern changes. Lower-extremity MEE increases corresponded to attenuated forward trunk linear and angular movement in the VR group, suggesting better control of upper body motion to minimize loss of balance. These data support a growing body of evidence that Tai Chi may be a valuable complementary treatment for vestibular disorders. (+info)