TC Exercises for eldery ?

TC Exercises for eldery ?

Postby ELDER » Sun Nov 25, 2001 2:26 am

I have allways heard that TaiChi Chuan practice are good exercises for aged people.
In fact, doing light exercises regularly is a must for all ages ! But all TC exercises should be considered light exercises ?

I have to agree most of the times, but I was wondering if it will be apply for doing Lou-xu-ao-pu, standing in just one feet, supporting all body weight in the articulations of this feet. Most of aged people has ostheoporosys !
There are also some other's difficut stances as the snake, the cock, the high kick, ...
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Postby tai1chi » Sun Nov 25, 2001 4:00 pm

Hi Elder,

Should all tcc movements be considered "light exercise"? You're right. It depends on the condition of the practitioner. Some elderly people can barely stand or raise their arms above their heads. But, you might be interested to know that you could do your tcc, or tcc-like exercises, while you are in your chair at home or even in a wheelchair. A very famous master developed a set to use after he was inflicted with a debilitating disease. TCC has also been seen as an exercise that promotes health and restores wellness in many cases. Often, just starting to learn the form (which is relatively easy in the beginning) will prepare the body for the more difficult movements that come later in the form. Even then, there's no law that says you have to go low (in Snake) or kick high. It's just as good (in my humble experience) to do the movement comfortably. It's also more fun and makes it less likely that you'll injure yourself. Ultimately, tcc is a tool that one can use to develop oneself, at any age. I would suggest that you look around for someone who teaches and perhaps specializes in teaching the elderly. There are less strenuous forms that have been created for people with arthritis and other conditions. There are also non-profit organizations that have lists of schools that have special programs for seniors and who even give discounts. Actually, there's really little out there, if anything, that is better for the elderly person who wants to exercise than tcc. Certainly, there's nothing "more" interesting.

Best of luck,
Steve James
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Postby ZhongDa » Mon Nov 26, 2001 8:18 pm

Hi, Elder,

Osteoporosis is loss in bone mass. It isnt a disease in itself. Rather a general term. What is causing the bone loss?
Some things to understand is that bones responds to the pull/actions of soft tissue (muslces, ligaments) connected to them.

Also an excess intake of red meat causes calcium to be 'leached' out of your system.

To help generate bone mass you need a weight bearing exercise.

Weight lifting is one way.
Tai Chi is good because of the lower body power involved.
You dont have to scoop way down in needle to the bottom of the sea, nor do you need to have your butt cheeks brush the ground in Snake Creeps Down.

Simple letting your weight go into your legs as you move is suffiecent. You let go as much as your comfortable with.

Hopefully I've shed some light on things for you.
Have a great day,

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Postby ELDER » Sun Jan 06, 2002 12:30 am

You are right most of the times, but in general the instructors drives all students for lowering the stances and into doing the movements very slow, which increase efforts to the joints of knees and shins.
There are statistics that most of TaiChi practioners in US suffers from joints pain. I am not taling about eldery people but people around its 30's.
I know Taichi enhances the ligaments of the joints but it takes a lot of years (more than 20) to be effective, in this long run perspective TaiChi will be really benefict for the eldery joints (IMHO).
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Postby Bob3 » Tue Jan 08, 2002 2:11 am

I have some sympathy for problems of 'older' people since I am many years past my 30's! However, I also note that instructors need to challenge some students. One way is to get students to go slower or obtain lower stances. On the other hand, Tai Chi should not be putting a strain on joints, if it is done properly. For newer students, some muscle fatigue is normal, since some muscles are not used to moving according to Tai Chi principles. If there is joint pain, then likely the body is not properly aligned. This causes some torque to be applied to joints, sometimes so much that muscles can not compensate. Your instructor should be able to correct any body position that is not aligned, or perhaps you should find a new instructor. Tai Chi should be a pleasurable exercise, that brings great benefit. Without the pleasure of practice, the mind set will not work to bring forth the flow of chi to its fullest. One does not have to obtain a low stance to reap the benefits. One can only do that which the body allows, and the mind accepts. That doesn't mean not to push the limits occasionally, to increase flexibility and control.
From my background, it is also not good to adopt a rigid practice regimen. The speed of Tai Chi should be varied somewhat from session to session, as long as each movement is performed according to principles.

Hope this helps,
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Jan 08, 2002 2:18 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by ELDER:
<B>You are right most of the times, but in general the instructors drives all students for lowering the stances and into doing the movements very slow, which increase efforts to the joints of knees and shins.....

I agree. I think we should always substitute 'going correctly' (according to the principles) for 'going low' as the highest priority. I definitely hurt myself in the early stages trying too hard to go low.
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Postby Audi » Sat Jan 12, 2002 11:54 pm

Hi all,

I would agree with the spirit of the above responses, but wanted to add a few comments, particularly about light exercise.

Would it not be better to look at T'ai Chi as a practice involving forming postures rather than achieving postures? In other words, I believe T'ai Chi focuses on processes rather than directly on results. Think of lowering and raising, rather than being low or being high. Think of emptying and filling rather than being full and empty. Suspending from above is an active thing and not the same as having an erect posture, which is static.

Mere walking involves putting the entire weight of the body onto one leg and maintaining a certain amount of balance. I am not sure that Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg need be any different in essence.

Once one shifts as much weight as possible onto one leg and begins to point the knee and toes of the other leg, I think the core of the posture is there. One does more only for clarity in the feelings and for physical training. Viewed in this way, I would call this light exercise.

I have practiced with one or two individuals who could walk, but could not maintain balance on one leg and therefore could not hold any kicks, no matter how low they kept their feet. Generally, they would flick their feet one or two feet off the ground and then would be forced to step down to avoid toppling over.

Although this has the appearance of doing a T'ai Chi kick and then losing one's balance (I am certainly familiar with the latter circumstance), I believe it is not really the case. I believe this practice involves double weighting, no feeling of suspension from above, and improper focus on balance from beginning to end of the movement. Despite the movement, it is essentially an alternation of jerky and stagnant movement.

I believe individuals in this circumstance are best served by merely lightening the weight in the "kicking" foot, rather than lifting it completely off the ground. By lightening the pressure on the foot, they can shift weight, focus intent, and maintain continuity.

As for the arms, there are certainly individuals who cannot lift them over their heads, but this surely does not characterize most elderly. I think of T'ai Chi arm motions as being like cultivating the feelings one experiences in visualizing drawing a bow and holding it at full extension. The stiffness of the bow, the speed with which one draws it, and how long the end point is held are secondary issues.

During the movement and while holding the bow bent, one can feel the joints open, the upper back protrude, the chest sink, the elbows align, the fingers extend, etc. A stronger bow and a slower speed allow for clearer feelings, but they are not strictly necessary.

Lastly, I think that T'ai Chi is fundamentally about relative states and never about absolute ones. Since this involves a difficult mode of thinking and a difficult mode of expression, I think practitioners do not emphasize this or often forget it. A close reading of much of what the Yangs have written shows numerous places where they shy away from absolute descriptions, but instead employ relative and subjective ones. In this light, working within one's limitations is not merely an option, but a core principle.

Similar to this, the postures are about energy vectors, not positions. The positions result from the interplay of the vectors. Again, think of the bow. One does not preplan the end position or burn it into muscle memory. The interplay of how one opens the joints (as dictated by your intent) determines the final posture. Even in the final position, all the joints from fingertip to fingertip are trying to move. Roll Back, Single Whip, etc. have more complex geometry, but are otherwise no different. Having a rigid posture in mind, rather than letting the energies mix to produce a natural result, involves a lack of "song" (looseness/relaxation).

Copy your teacher's intent as revealed through his or her posturing. Do not copy any of the static positions. This is not an issue of stillness or movement, because one can be static in motion or be actively posturing while still. If you put your intent on copying static positions, you will ignore T'ai Chi principles to achieve your goal.

Most seniors have the physical ability to do this. I would say that if you can walk and comb your hair, you can more or less do standard T'ai Chi. Many people, however, do not have the patience to think and practice in this way and settle for building up a repertoire of static positions that they try to link up in ways that appear soft, smooth, and graceful.

I personally usually lose some of the mental battle between adhering to principle and trying to look good when it comes to the kicks and Squatting Single Whip. Nevertheless, I feel I am ahead of the game by knowing that I am cheating a little.

Take care,

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 01-12-2002).]
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Postby peterstankov » Thu Jun 05, 2003 6:12 pm

Hi to everybody,

Tai Chi is stress relieving indeed. But I have a bitter experience I'd like to share.

When I started practicing meditation (I first began with Yoga, later Tai Chi), I made a big mistake: I convinced myself that those tecniques can relieve any stress and any time I feel nervous I would do some technique and try to avoid the bad feeling. (That was a l o n g s e n t e n c e!) But it's no good.

I mean you can't fight stress like that. It may give you some relieve, but it's not a hard ground to step on. It'll bring more stress in the long run.

But what you really have to do is practice every single day and thus, make your body immune to stress (Actually, you have to learn to practice all the time).

How practicing every day makes you immune to stress? Well, you learn to concentrate on the present moment. Once you get used to living in the present moment, no stress can affect you, cause actually stress is something you are doing to yourself. I mean you "stress" yourself.

If you learn to concentrate (by regular practice) it won't bother you anymore.

Good luck : )

Peter Stankov
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Postby peterstankov » Thu Jun 05, 2003 6:18 pm

Sorry but I posted this in the wrong section. It was meant for tai chi and stress relieve thread.

Maybe now I should post something for elderly there : )
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