Tai Chi can be a huge benefit to anyone living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Having had Arthritis for twenty five years and practicing Tai Chi for the last twenty, I know for a fact that Tai Chi can be a massive help for anyone suffering from this crippling disease.
Tai Chi can improve your posture putting less strain on any damaged joints. Through Tai Chi you can learn to relax pain tensed muscle, making yourself more comfortable. Falls are no fun for anyone that is in anyway frail, if Rheumatoid Arthritis has weakened your joints the last thing that you want is a bad fall and even a slip can leave you shaken. The improved balance that comes with regular practice of Tai Chi will definitely give you a firmer footing in any situation and significantly reduce the chances of you having a bad fall, that’s a fact. The list of reasons for doing Tai Chi is very long, it will not cure arthritis but it can slow down your decline it could be worth a try?
Never give up
I have had both knees replaced, which in my case was a great success. The surgeon said the success of the new knees was only half due to him and half because of the Tai Chi. “Most people, by the time I see them”, said the surgeon, ” You never gave up. We want you back in hospital, I want you filmed doing Tai Chi”.
The film has since been shown to other surgeons around the world.
Never, never, never give up.
~ Winston Churchill
When it hurts to move and you have been in this position for a long time you can’t ever believe or imagine that your situation could ever significantly improve, but it might! A new drug, a new hip, things do sometimes turn around. If you want more than just some pain relief you must not give up on yourself, not moving can be a habit that is as hard to lose as carrying too much weight. The slow gentle exercise that Tai Chi provides can make that big difference. We all get bad days and over doing it is as bad as under doing it. Learning to listen to your body and finding the right balance is a skill in itself. Use it or lose it, that’s so true, do what you can rest when you need to but keep trying!
The trials and tribulations of Rheumatoid Arthritus.
There have been times when it has taken me twenty minutes to get dressed, my hair and eyebrows fell out due to a reaction to gold injections and I know what it’s like to be exhausted and other people think your just lazy. There is that need for good timing if your walking is slow when crossing a road near a bend, and getting through the packaging on food can be as hard as breaking into a bank if your not organised. I am sure that there are some people reading this that arthritis has hit harder than me but it would have hit me a lot harder to if it wasn’t for Tai Chi.
When your going through hell, keep going.
~ Winston Churchhill.
Treating the body and not the mind.
The advances in modern medicine are an amazing thing but Western medicine sometimes does not treat the whole person. While treatments to slow down the physical effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis on the body are improving all the time this is not reflected in ways of treating the mind. When trying to deal with a crippling painful and unpredictable disease and the consequences of it in terms of for instance, lost earning potential, you need a strong mind.
Having a strong mind and being independent seem to go hand in hand. By learning and practicing Tai Chi you can feel that there is something that you can do, to some degree, to help yourself rather than just being totally dependent on prescription drugs year in year out.
Complementary exercise not alternative medicine.
Discovering that you have an illness caused by the bodies own defence system, the immune system, attacking your body is a tough one to get your head around. Seeing other people in the waiting room, further down the line in the disease process with fully fledged deformities as I did, is a big shock. Finding out that there is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis can make you feel out of control and desperate, when you are desperate you will try anything. I tried many alternative medicines until I could not face the disappointment of them not working anymore. It’s easy to give up the wonder cures and instead just depend on the doctors and what ever they prescribe but to moderately and persistently work on maintaining and even improving your mobility can make a difference mentally and physicaly, a big difference! Tai Chi is not a replacement for conventional drug treatment but complements it as a self help exercise program. When your up against Rheumatoid Arthritis and the long term consequences of this crippling illness you need practical tools that while not promising the earth will help you to enrich what could be a pretty bleak future.
Exercises that anyone can do.
Because Tai Chi is done in a slow and controlled manner it is ideal as an exercise practice for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unlike yoga it does not involve having to get down to and up from the floor which can be difficult or impossible for some people. Swimming is said to be excellent for people with Arthritis as with the water supporting your body less strain is put on your joints. Regular trips to a public pool to swim, especially morning sessions, the time of day when arthritis is commonly felt, can be unrealistic in the long term unless swimming really is your thing.
Tai Chi can be done standing up or sitting down in almost any place. It can be done when you have the energy and inclination to do it and even a few minutes done regularly can make you feel better and make some difference.
Tai Chi and your weight.
A big problem with a disease that limits mobility is the potential for weight gain as most people with Arthritis know only too well. The last thing that damaged joints need is extra weight to deal with. Extra weight means more pain when you move, as you become less inclined to move the more weight you will gain. To break this cycle we need to start moving in a slow gentle way increasing what we do bit by bit. Tai Chi on its own won’t turn you into a Slim Jim but a regular Tai Chi work out can become the support for other more intense forms of exercising which can keep the weight off.
An active life by having a good routine.
I dog walk twice a day, often on uneven ground. I look after train, feed and pick up the dung of two young ponies every day. I teach karate to kids a couple of times a week and ride a pony regularly in the New Forest which involves the occasional fall. None of these activities would be possible if I didn’t do them regularly and if I didn’t practice Tai Chi. I’m not saying that there aren’t some days that I’m just not up to it but generally this is the routine that I live by and have for some time. I’m not saying my way is the only way but I am saying its a way that works for me and it can work for you. As with most things you only get out of it what you put in, this is pure self help not a magic cure which makes it very much up to you. Being a martial arts instructor before getting Rheumatoid Arthritis I was already aware of Tai Chi, many people with this disease may not be aware of this ancient art form and it’s relevance to their situation, I hope this article helps.
Learn more about the Tai Chi, Arthritis and the importance of staying warm.