Falls prevention and Tai Chi

tai chi for balance

Tai Chi has health benefits for everyone, but it has particular significance for some conditions. For example, research shows that Tai Chi can improve balance and stability. It can also improve flexibility. Most importantly, it is suitable for older people, including those with Parkinson’s disease. That is to say, the people who most often experience balance problems.

Falls Prevention

Exercise is known to be one of the key solutions in falls prevention. According to the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, “the diverse, multiple active ingredients inherent in Tai Chi allow you to compensate for deficiencies in the four body systems (musculoskeletal, sensory, neuromuscular, and cognitive) that underlie balance loss.” In other words, the gentle, gradual approach Tai Chi is one of the best exercises to reduce the risk of falling. Furthermore, it’s accessible for people of all ages and stages of fitness

Studies have shown that Tai Chi can also help reduce the fear of falling. That fear is, in itself, a risk for falls. Therefore, reducing the fear may in turn help improve mood and quality of life. Otherwise, people might limit their activities for fear of falling.

Research has shown that proprioception or “position sense” is also improved with Tai Chi. This helps reduce awkward, jerking movements which aggravate existing pain. It also reduces the chance of falls (or second falls).

Our wellbeing programme includes seated sessions.

We know the benefits of Tai Chi from our own experience and the feedback we get from our participants, but it’s always good to have it backed up by research. 

A recent study showed that regular practice of Tai Chi has the potential to improve reaction time and movement efficiency in older adults leading to similar muscle benefits as conventional rehabilitation programs.

The study sought to understand the neuromuscular mechanisms underlying the benefits of regular practice, and the results showed that the improvements in function associated with Tai Chi provide a mechanism for reducing falls in older adults.  

You can read the study here