The 500+-year-old martial art of Tai Chi, practiced for self-defense and self-preservation, and once considered for demonstration in the Olympics, may be a new therapy for the aging world population. A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine describes how patients diagnosed with chronic knee pain and osteoarthritis enjoyed significant relief after a Tai Chi regiment. Patients randomized into either a Physical Therapy group or a Tai Chi group to combat their pain and arthritis both reported significant relief on scales of pain and discomfort.
Both groups in this trial, totaling 200 individuals, reported pain relief. Interestingly, however, the individuals who practiced Tai Chi for 12 weeks reported much better scores for depression and mental well-being after 1 year. Tai Chi employs a number of mental objectives that may help arthritis-sufferers better cope with their pain and relax their bodies. The art of focusing thought and motion can combat many physical ailments, or so many cultures believe, but this was almost certainly one of the first controlled scientific studies documenting the real health benefits of Tai Chi. The “Taiji Philosophy” may offer individuals across the world relief from pain, both mental and physical. Further studies are certain to follow, but it can’t hurt to start!