Meanwhile, until that day, how do we get our bodies ready to experience the ability which restored nerve myelin sheaths will recover? As one neurologist said to me, when the cure comes, we want our bodies to be ready for more movement—no atrophy for us! One option is Tai chi.
Benefits of Tai chi
Movement, Strength and Balance
A study presented in 2016 on the use of Tai chi to regain strength and balance. Researchers identified Tai chi as helpful for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with impaired balance. It can improve endurance and strength and decrease fatigue (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox).
Other studies agree—movement and balance and strength are improved with Tai chi
Walking speed and Hamstring Flexibility
Another study reported increased walking speed and hamstring flexibility (C. Husted, L. Pham, A. Hekking, and R. Niederman, “Improving quality of life for people with chronic conditions: the example of T'ai chi and multiple sclerosis,” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 70–74, 1999.) after an 8-week Tai chi exercise program. The authors suggest that during Tai chi exercise our muscles are learning how to achieve movements that we will be able to use in our regular daily activities.
Other Specific Results
Here are specific findings of how Tai chi and Quigong (a similar meditative movement exercise) improve our health. In a search of studies, seventy-seven articles met the inclusion criteria for peer review articles with the evidence for achieving outcomes from randomized controlled trials. Here are the areas where trials showed that these exercises help us--
Bone density (n [n=number of studies that found this result]=4)
Cardiopulmonary effects (n=19)
Physical function (n=16)
Falls and related risk factors (n=23)
Quality of Life (n=17)
Psychological symptoms (n=27)
Immune function (n=6)
Can We Injure Ourselves?
Some exercises can be overdone. Tai chi doesn’t have this risk. It is not only effective but also safe (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/502131/).
What if Tai chi classes aren’t available to me?
Some of us don’t live near a Tai chi class. What about us?
We can use internet and our computers. Youtube has classes in Tai chi and Qigong.
Some Youtube Tai chi and Quigong classes--
- An 8-minute exercise class, explained as you go through it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNtWqDxwwMg). This is my favorite class, but there are others that are great for advancing.
- This class that comes with relaxing music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIOHGrYCEJ4). This class lasts longer—from 20 minutes to an hour is suggested by the instructor.
- Qigong—here is a four-minute exercise routine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaEZVfhn07o).
What if I am in a wheelchair, or if I can’t stand without help?
We can do these movements seated, in a wheelchair or in our dining room chair--
- Here is one link to a movement without instructions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHBR5MZmEsY).
- Here is one with instructions as you move in your chair—https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwMT2JVUkDQ.
- I tried the 8-minute class (#1, above) from a chair and it was great—we can make the Tai chi program our own, as DDP Yoga says!
These movements encourage relaxation and de-stressing, and it is easy to step into the movements, to feel the energy of the programs.
Whatever We Do, Let’s Do Something!
We have much we can do to make our experience of MS stronger, more relaxed, with higher energy. We don’t have to sit still and do nothing while we wait for the cure. Tai chi is one of the most enjoyable ways to help lower significant symptoms in the meantime.