Why do people with arthritis tend to be on the tense side?
The very painful condition of Arthritis is something that automatically causes us to tense up. Flinching, tensing and moving away, when for instance you touch something hot is a useful instinct to have. When the pain is the consent pain of Arthritis this tensing up is no longer useful.Being tense is the cause of many things from tiredness to poor circulation. If you are in pain for a long time this reaction of tensing up can become a fixed pattern, it is a bad habit to have, difficult to break and so easy to slip into without noticing. Tensing up or flinching is the bodies natural response to pain, you can go a long way to countering this bunching up of the muscles by gently stretching the muscles when your not in pain but to be effective this needs to become a regular practice.
Is ant Tai Chi what old people in China do in the parks, sort of slow motion martial arts moves?
That’s called the Tai Chi form by doing it slowly it really improves your balance and is very good for posture.
What if you don’t feel capable of learning a long series of slow motion moves?
Maybe you feel that you wouldn’t remember the routine or the arthritis has got to the stage where you physically just couldn’t do the Tai Chi form? Well Tai Chi has a large number of loosening exercise that can help to alleviate some of your discomfort. Just a few of these exercises done regularly will go a long way to letting your body unwind. Some of these easy to do loosening exercises can be done while seated.
What if your in so much pain on a really bad day, that even loosening exercises are unrealistic?
This tensing up as a protective reflex to pain will effect your breathing. Being in pain understandably causes mental tension which again causes us to tighten and therefore restrict our breathing.
Within Tai Chi there are some breathing exercises which I can say from experience can really help when your in pain. Even to get a degree of relief when your in a lot of pain is a great thing at the time! Pain can make you feel helpless but when there is something that you can do for yourself to loosen its grip you no longer feel so out of control.
With regular practice a deeper calming breathing pattern will become easier to achieve when you concentrate on a breathing exercise. Breathing more fully is another way of relaxing your body. By learning to really concentrate on your breathing, negative depressing thoughts so easily brought on by pain, will loose much of their vividness and importance.
What if your feeling really down in the dumps and having negative thoughts that you don’t want to do some breathing exercise?
Yes it can get like that can’t it. Well if you just try it will make some difference in moments. With practice the breathing exercise becomes more effective and can make the thoughts less vivid.
Can breathing exercises be done lieing down and can they help you get to sleep?
Although a breathing exercise is far more effective when done in an upright position they can be done when your laid down and maybe unable to sleep.
I know for myself that by focusing on your breathing when you can’t sleep it can get you to drift off into the land of nod but not always. Say for instance your in shock, maybe a medical specialist has given you some bad news that day, concentrating on watching your breath is unlikely to give you the welcome relief of sleep. What concentrating on your breath in this situation can do is to give you a break from all that thinking!
I hope this information is of use to you. I myself have had severe Rheumatoid arthritis for about twenty five years. For more than twenty of those years Tai Chi has helped me beyond words.