Tai Chi Therapy
- an Osteopathic approach to Tai Chi -
Jaz Ibarra, BSc in Osteopathy, BFA, DMT.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Until the 20th century, Tai Chi was exclusively practiced by martial artists in China for its defence training, its health benefits and meditation. For a long time, the positive effects of Tai Chi on body and mind was supported in theory only. However, during recent decades, Tai Chi has been examined from a scientific perspective giving support to its restorative nature. Documented benefits of a regular Tai Chi practice include (see resources below):
• Improved immune response
• Cardio function
• Decreased inflammation
• Increased strength, mobility, flexibility and balance
• Enhanced wellbeing and quality of sleep
In addition, Tai Chi assists in the process of creating the optimal conditions needed for the healing process.
Stress Levels and Quality of Sleep
Stress levels and quality of sleep have a significant effect on our health, so it's important for Postureffect to offer our clients practical and enjoyable routines aimed at improving wellness and quality of life. It is well known in the Tai Chi community that regular practice is associated to a refined quality of sleep, an improved stress response and an enhanced feeling of peacefulness. Empirical research also supports this premise:
• Cognitive behavioural therapy vs. Tai Chi for late life insomnia and inflammatory risk: a randomized controlled comparative efficacy trial - (Michael R Irwin et al) demonstrated that a regular Tai Chi practice was associated with improvements in sleep quality and fatigue.
• Tai Chi Chih Compared With Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [CBT-I] for the Treatment of Insomnia in Survivors of Breast Cancer: A Randomized, Partially Blinded, Non-inferiority Trial - (Michael R Irwin et al) showed that this mindful movement meditation was found to be "statistically non-inferior [as beneficial] to CBT-I, the gold standard for behavioural treatment of insomnia".
• Therapeutic Benefits of Tai Chi Exercise: Research Review - (Alice M. Kuramoto) showed that Tai Chi may "lead to increased psychological well-being and sleep enhancement for sleep disturbed elderly individuals”.)
The Power of Habits
Most musculoskeletal issues persist and aggravate because of our habits (e.g. poor posture, dysfunctional movement or breathing patterns and a restless mind). Full restoration and healing can only be achieved after creating and adapting to more appropriate habits. In terms of biomechanics, regular Tai Chi Therapy helps improve our body structure, function, posture and movements. The key word is consistency.
Tai Chi Therapy, an Osteopathic approach to Tai Chi
This innovative practice was developed by Postureffect to compliment Osteopathic Rehab and treatment programs. We’ve applied biomechanics principles and the science behind Osteopathy to movement therapy based on Tai Chi, and our unique training programs offer:
Primary Tai Chi move instruction.
Tai Chi Therapy routines: A series of slow movements, that focus on achieving and maintaining optimal musculoskeletal alignment, diaphragmatic breathing and more efficient patterns of movement (kinematic chains).
Useful concepts in Biomechanics, Osteopathic and Tai Chi, delivered in a practical and easy-to-learn way.
I invite you to visit our Tai Chi webpage https://www.postureffect.com/taichi and learn more about this beneficial practice.
Research on Tai Chi https://www.postureffect.com/taichi (scroll down and click “Read” at the end of each article)
How? When? What? Why?
Jaz Ibarra, BSc in Osteopathy, BFA, DMT.
It is a common belief that stretching by itself, helps improve and sustain health. So people stretch… yet not always obtaining the results expected. In some cases, stretching can be highly beneficial or otherwise harmful. In order to get full benefit from stretching, we need to know:
HOW to perform a stretch
WHEN to use a determined type of stretch
WHAT are the different types of stretches and their effects
WHY am I stretching
Regardless of our lifestyle, work style and fitness/physical activity level, it is important to understand Stretching, at least at the most basic level. First, we need to be aware that
Appropriate stretching practices help
prevent injury, promote healing and enhance movement.
Unfavourable stretching practices can
aggravate numerous musculoskeletal conditions.
HOW to perform a stretch?
Ideally, instruction on how to perform a specific stretch should be individualized and adapted to each person’s physical condition. For those understanding the basics of stretching and having NO PAIN or discomfort, you may start or continue a stretching practice. Incorporate or adapt new stretches to your routine depending on what you want to achieve. In your case, it would be useful to visit https://www.postureffect.com/releasing-vs-stretching
If you are experiencing PAIN or discomfort during your physical activities, or even at rest, I recommend you address the problem prior to continuing or starting any stretching practice, for inappropriate stretching could be contributing to your condition.
WHEN to use a determined type of stretch?
As a general rule, a stretching practice should help your body restore from a previous activity and it should support or assist the activity you are about to start. In this sense, a nice intense static stretch would be the perfect addition to a cool-down routine (after a moderate to a highly intense physical activity). However, its usage in other situations could be detrimental (e.g. preceding a gym work-out). As you will learn, static stretches promote deep muscle relaxation, thus if you follow with an intense physical activity, it will not be a good match. In most cases, this combination is a recipe for injury.
If you want ideas on how stretching routines can fit into your daily activities, please visit our webpages:
“Releasing & Stretching” https://www.postureffect.com/releasing-and-stretching
WHAT are the different types of stretches and their effects?
Explaining all the different types of stretches would be very complex. Below is the most simplified explanation. To know more about stretching, please visit https://www.postureffect.com/releasing-vs-stretching
Dynamic stretches warm up joints, tissues and help improve circulation, range of motion and quality of movement. Thus, they are an essential part of a warm up routine and must be performed PRIOR to any repetitive task or moderate to highly intense activity.
Static stretches are a must (not an option) FOLLOWING a prolonged repetitive task or a moderate to highly intense activity. They will promote deep relaxation, improve flexibility and assist in tissue restoration.
Understanding Dynamic and Static stretches is all you really need to know just now.
WHY am I stretching?
Ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish by stretching. Is it readiness, relaxation, flexibility, healing…? Then, choose the stretches that will fulfill that need. If you are going to use time and energy into stretching, you want to make sure that your stretching practices are beneficial. Everybody’s needs are different. Stretching is a powerful tool, so make sure you are using it in the most appropriate way. If you need help, contact me.
Releasing and Stretching
Last but not least, I need to introduce the notion of releasing. Releasing is the application of specific Soft Tissue techniques in areas of “tightness”, “restrictions" and "muscle knots”. As you will learn from our "Releasing vs Stretching" webpage, these techniques support each other and in most cases they must go together.
If you are planning to start stretching or if you want to take your current stretching routine to a higher level, I would like you to visit our website.
“Always remember, WHAT you do matters.
But HOW you do it is more important.”
The Osteopathic principle of Interrelatedness
Jaz Ibarra, BSc in Osteopathy, BFA, DMT.
From an Osteopathic philosophy perspective, everything is in constant interaction and deeply interrelated. Thus, every structure, function and process in our body has the power to affect the others; transforming the way we feel, our posture and movement.
This principle explains why a particular dysfunction can affect a distant region, seemingly unrelated. As an example, organ dysfunction may cause discomfort, tightness or pain in other areas of the body (see the charts below). This is why, Manual Osteopathic interventions focus on:
1) Discovering the real origin of a dysfunction, avoiding to solely focus on the pain area. This is the keystone of Osteopathy, but the next two points are crucial to the success of the treatment in the long term.
2) Addressing the main factors contributing to such dysfunction.
3) Creating the optimal conditions needed for the healing processes to take place.
Most musculoskeletal issues persist and aggravate because our habits (e.g. poor posture or dysfunctional movement) provide food for dysfunctions to linger, developing into chronic conditions.
We could ask ourselves, are our habits contributing to our well-being
or are they feeding an ailment?
Osteopathy emphasizes the role that all body structures play in the maintenance of a healthy state. Furthermore, it highlights the significance of everything we do (or do not) on a habitual basis. Habits become the norm.
Does hunching over feel "normal" and standing straight "awkward"?
If this is your experience, keep in mind that “normal” doesn't mean good or bad, it simply means it’s habit formed. Thus, it can be changed, by creating and nurturing more appropriate habits.
Do you need some help with this task? Visit our Home Routines webpage https://www.postureffect.com/home-routines and let us know if you have any questions.