Analysis of Tai Chi movement structure for improving static and dynamic flexibility and balance in the elderly

Shihui CHEN, Yong Tai WANG, Jia Bei ZHANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many scientific research experiments and many individuals who practice Tai Chi have found that Tai Chi offers a variety of benefits. Improving body posture, increasing flexibility and joint range of motion, reducing arthritis stiffness, and especially, preventing falls are most prominent. However, underlying mechanisms on how Tai Chi movement contributes to these benefits requires further exploration. This study analyzes Tai Chi movement structure and explains therapeutic functions of Tai Chi practice related to improving flexibility, joint range of motion, and posture stability, all of which eventually improve static and dynamic balance and help prevent falls in the elderly. A simplified 24-form Tai Chi program was filmed, and 10 key Tai Chi movements were selected and analyzed by two inter-observers. Analysis of Tai Chi movement structure focused on the joints involved during Tai Chi performance, movement type (joints’ movement during weight shifting and knee rotation), movement sequence route (knee, hip, and shoulder joints moving forward, backward, left and right), static and dynamic balance (single-leg-stand movement, uplifting leg movement, and left and right kicking movement), and static and dynamic flexibility (low standing performing position, push-down movements). Each of 10 selected Tai Chi movements (e.g., Part Horse Mane movement) were also analyzed to interpret relationships between the above movement structure (e.g., slow weight shifting and knee rotation) and improving flexibility. Analysis of Tai Chi movement structure shows a complete 24-movement Tai Chi program lasts approximately five minutes, and almost all major body joints are involved in execution of movements. Tai Chi movement sequences include forward, backward, and sideway movements, and 180-degree rotation movements. A total of 10 sideway shifting steps, 19 forward shifting steps, 4 backward balancing steps, 76 shoulder rotations, and 86 knee massage-like movements are presented in the complete 24-form Tai Chi program. The study further illustrates and analyzes movements largely consisting of static and dynamic flexibility, as well as how these movements function as an appropriate balance therapy to improve progressive nature of static and dynamic balance, and help prevent falls by the elderly. Copyright © 2004 The International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-42
JournalICHPER-SD journal: the Official Magazine of the International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance
Volume40
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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Citation

Chen, S., Wang, Y. T., & Zhang, J. (2004). Analysis of Tai Chi movement structure for improving static and dynamic flexibility and balance in the elderly. ICHPER-SD journal: the Official Magazine of the International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance, 40(4), 37-42.