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Tai Chi for Arthritis Video | Dr Paul Lam | Free Lesson and Introduction

(upbeat music) – [Narrator] Welcome to another program in the Tai Chi For Health series by Dr Paul Lam, designed not only to instruct but also to inform and inspire. Dr Lam, in collaboration with The Arthritis Foundation, brings you this easy to learn and enjoyable program designed to enhance your quality of life. – We at The Arthritis Foundation are excited that you’re interested in Tai Chi For Arthritis brought to you by Dr Paul Lam, a worldwide renowned expert in tai chi, and The Arthritis Foundation, your number one place to go for arthritis information. Dr Paul Lam is also a medical physician and has had arthritis himself over the last 40 years. – [Narrator] We designed this DVD for you to learn the Tai Chi For Arthritis program as though you were attending Dr Lam’s class. Dr Paul Lam has worked with a team of tai chi and health professionals in 1996 to create this program especially for people with arthritis. – Hello and welcome. I’m Paul Lam. Let me tell you about tai chi, the Tai Chi For Arthritis program, and what benefit you can gain from learning it.

– [Narrator] Tai chi originates from ancient China and is based on the law of nature. Practising tai chi will strengthen our body, relax our mind, making us more harmonious with ourselves and nature. The gentle flowing movements contain much inner strength. The power of tai chi is like a gentle flowing river, beneath the calm surface is a current with immense power, the power for healing and wellness. Although tai chi was commonly used in the ancient days as a martial art, nowadays it is practiced mostly for health and relaxation. There are many styles of tai chi. The popular Yang style is characterised by slow and expansive movements. The oldest tai chi style, the Chen style, contains more complex and vigorous movements which are not suitable for people with arthritis.

Sun style was created by Mr. Sun Lutang in the early part of the 20th century. It contains unique and powerful chi gong. Chi gong is a method of cultivating internal energy, especially effective for healing and relaxation. Mr. Sun has placed great emphasis on the healing property of his forms. The smooth and natural movements empower you to cultivate your own internal energy.

– We have chosen the Sun style because of special health benefit and safety features. This program has significant advantages for people with arthritis. Doctor White, Professor Edmunds, and other health and tai chi professionals will join me to bring you more information about arthritis and the Tai Chi For Arthritis program. – Arthritis is common, and in the United States there are 46 million people with doctor diagnosed arthritis. And it’s projected to increase to 67 million by 2030.

It is also very serious, it’s the leading cause of disability in the United States. – One problem is osteoarthritis where there’s wearing of the cartilage in the joints as the primary problem. A second type of arthritis is inflammatory arthritis, things like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis where the basic problem is inflammation in the joint lining. And the third big category, not true arthritis, but problems in and around the joints, and we call that soft tissue rheumatism. – Arthritis also results in people not being physically active. Mainly this is due to pain, and many people think they can’t be active cause it might make their arthritis worse. But on the contrary, physical activity is extremely important for people with arthritis. It actually relieves their pain and improves their mobility.

Physical activity in general is very good for you. It’s one of the best medicines and it has no side effects. In general, you know, physical activity will make you feel much better, will decrease your problems with depression, as well as help all the many other illnesses that people get such as diabetes and heart disease. – Well, what you gain in the end is function. It allows you to do the things that you want to do. To do that your joints have to move. And to move your joints your muscles need to be strong enough both to protect the joint and to actually allow the joint to move. So what you gain is function and the ability to carry on a normal life. – The reason I started tai chi was to help me manage my own arthritis which I developed since my early teens.

Over the years tai chi has transformed my life. I wanted to share it with more people and that was why I started teaching tai chi more than 30 years ago. – So you ask, how can I overcome physical activity? Well one of the best ways is actually to do Tai Chi For Arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation is working with Dr Paul Lam on Tai Chi For Arthritis. If it is done regularly it can help your pain, increase your mobility, and in general improve your overall health. – The Tai Chi For Arthritis program has been in America for only 10 years. Since its beginning it has become more and more popular and more and more people are learning the Tai Chi For Arthritis program every year. It’s estimated at this point that a million people’s lives have been touched by the Tai Chi For Arthritis program. – The only way we can really know whether or not something works is to do a proper scientific study. We call that often a double blind control study. But it’s a study that’s been designed to really look critically at whether or not something truly works.

– My personal experience and experiences of other individuals are certainly important. However, from a medical perspective, good quality studies are needed as scientific evidence. – [Narrator] Doctor Marlene Fransen, chief investigator of the largest ever published Tai Chi For Arthritis study explains the results of her study. – In our study we found that Tai Chi For Arthritis greatly improved joint pain and physical function for people with osteoarthritis in the hips or knees. The mean age of our subjects was 70 years. A lot of these people had no experience of tai chi and were a little bit hesitant when they started the classes but those who sort of went along for at least one or two weeks, we found that most of them did, at the end of the 12 weeks, greatly enjoy the tai chi. – [Narrator] Professor Song is the chief investigator of another Tai Chi For Arthritis study published by the Journal of Rheumatology and tells us about her study for older people with osteoarthritis.

– At the end, well not at the end, we were looking at in the middle of our regiment and they already feel less pain, less stiffness, less difficulties in performing their daily activities, that was amazing and everybody was surprised to see that. – The Tai Chi For Arthritis form was developed by Doctor Paul Lam and his colleagues to be a safe form of exercise for people with arthritis. That safety runs from the development of the form, to the way it’s taught, to the way people practice at home. – Many people wonder if doing tai chi is safe. It is very safe and will help your pain as well as increase your mobility, your muscle strength, and it’s ensuring that people won’t fall, which is a big issue for people as they get older. – [Narrator] Tai Chi For Arthritis has also been shown by studies to reduce the risk of falling.

For this reason the Accident Compensation Corporation, known as ACC, a New Zealand national government department, funds Tai Chi For Arthritis classes across the whole country. – I come from a clinical background of physiotherapy and I realise that the sort of exercises that we can prescribe or give to people with arthritis are generally limited. Tai chi has a lot of advantages. People can do it by themselves at home, they don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. – [Narrator] Over the last 10 years many people have asked Dr Lam questions about the program. – If I don’t have arthritis does Tai Chi For Arthritis help me? – Absolutely yes. Tai Chi For Arthritis is based on the same principles as other tai chi. The difference is that this program is especially safe and effective for healing. Like other tai chi it also have many health benefit including improving relaxation, reduce blood pressure, reduce the risk of falling, and improve fitness, strength, and immunity. Tai Chi For Arthritis is used to teach a wide range of conditions. For example, my friend Jeff Morris, Tony Garcia from Miami, use it to teach people with multiple sclerosis and smoke cessation.

Sheila Ray from Tennessee helps drug users to overcome their addiction. Robin Melvey from California use it help people with fibromyalgia. Troy Thom teach it to college students. Health departments in Australia and other countries has use it for general health promotion or for fall prevention. – Dr Lam, my doctor would like to know how Tai Chi For Arthritis works. – As a medical practitioner I understand that doctors like to know there are got to be scientific studies supporting a program. As explained by Doctor Francine, Professor Song earlier on, as well with all the scientific evidence, there are three main reasons why Tai Chi For Arthritis work. Firstly, as a exercise it improve muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Muscles support and protect the joints. Being flexible helps to reduce pain and stiffness, enable you to do more.

Fitness is important for all over health. Secondary, the program helps people to relax and feel better. Everything improves when you are more relaxed and feeling good about yourself. Lastly, according to traditional Chinese medicine, chi, or the life energy, is essential to health and vitality. Arthritis is thought to be caused by blockage and weakening of chi. Tai Chi For Arthritis is designed to enhance this chi, so it not only improve the condition but also benefit almost all aspects of health. – Dr Lam, what is the difference between tai chi and walking? – Well, I like walking, too. It is a good exercise. Also Tai Chi For Arthritis does a lot more than that. It exercise the entire body, all joints and muscles and internal organs, at the same time it strengthen the mind.

It help us to be more relaxed and more harmonious with ourself and with nature. Tai chi is especially effective at enhancing the life energy, or the chi. What’s more, you can do tai chi practically anywhere and anytime. In walking if it rain you might not be able to walk. Many people with disability enjoy doing Tai Chi For Arthritis in their wheelchairs. Another good thing about tai chi is that it is progressive. No matter what age or condition you are you can continue to progress to a higher level to gain more energy.

I believe, hour for hour, tai chi is the most effective exercise for health, for the complete health, body and mind. The important thing is tai chi is enjoyable, it make you feel good about yourself. – [Narrator] Stay safe. Be sure to stay well within your comfort zone. Check with your health professionals before you begin these exercises. – Whenever you don’t feel comfortable doing a movement visualise yourself doing it fully but only move within your comfort zone. For example, if you can only move your arm this far and if the movement require you to move this far then what you should do is move to where you can within your comfort zone and visualise yourself moving to the full range.

Study has shown that by using visualisation you can gain health benefit and you can also improve flexibility. – [Narrator] Begin your session with warmup exercises and end with cool down exercises. Practise in a safe and comfortable environment. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and flat, well fitted shoes. Continue your session only as long as you feel comfortable. Listen to your body and rest when you start feeling tired, in pain, or lose concentration. Gradually build up the length and number of practice sessions, aiming for that 20 to 40 minutes on most days. A good guide is to practice for the length of the time you can walk comfortably at a steady pace. Regular practice with steady progression will minimise the chance of injury and empower you to gain better health and quality of life.

Lesson 1. Be sure to view the section Stay Safe before you begin the lessons. – Welcome to Lesson 1. Please remember when you have learned enough or feeling tired you can stop the lesson, practice what you have learned, and come back later. In tai chi, learning many movements quickly does not necessarily give you more health benefit or make your tai chi better. In fact, learning tai chi steadily will give you more benefits and enjoyment. This is the paradox of tai chi, quicker is not necessarily better. We going to start with each lesson with a greeting, and it’s a form to show mutual respects. So let me show you, this is how we do it in the traditional days. The right hand is a fist, it means strength. Your left hand with four fingers together means friendship. Bend the thumb means humility. Put your fist on your palm, put your feet together, and this a traditional greeting to show respects for each other. So I will do this for the beginning of our lesson and at the end of each lesson.

We will learn the warm up exercises in the first two movements in this lesson. We will always start each lesson with warm up exercises. These are designed to prepare you for tai chi and they are in three steps. The first step is walking around to warm up. The second step is stretching of each part of your body from the top down. And the third step is cooling down exercise which we’ll do after, at the end of the lesson. – [Narrator] Warm up exercises. – The first warm up exercise, number one, we’re going to open and close our hands, walk around and smile to everybody, just generally warm up. Let’s start with the neck. Be aware of your posture, body upright but not being tense. Hands up slowly, breathe in. Turn and push your chin back gently. Push out, and down. Bend your neck very gently.

Then hands up, breathe in gently. As you turn, push as though you gently push a gentle resistance. Same way as you push out, again it’s a very gentle resistance. Down. One more time. Up. Chin back, and push out, and down. The second neck exercise, hands up, left hand up, push the right hand down, and turn to 70% of your normal range. Come back. Turn to the 70% of your normal range of your neck motion. Then come back and each time you turn just a little bit further. Change hands. Maintain the upright posture. Turn gently and slowly. And the third time, one side each. Turn to the left, and come back. Change hands, it doesn’t matter which side you start first as long as you do both side. Come back. Next is the shoulder exercise. You roll your shoulder gently forward. Roll it gentle and circular like moving in tai chi.

Then roll back three times. Once, twice, and three times. Next shoulder exercise we’re going to stretch. Breathe in gently, and breathe out and bend your knees just a little. So, breathe in gathering the energy from the universe and put it inside you. It doesn’t matter you don’t believe in that, just think of breathing in the nice fresh air and then put it inside your body. So, after the shoulder we’re moving down to the spine. Start with carrying a ball and then we’re going to bring the ball and hand up as though we’re holding up a ceiling. Stretch the other hand. Then come back carrying a ball. Remember, as you stretch, we never fully extend our joints. There’s a slight bend in our joints but we think of expansion from within the joints. Stretch and imagine your spine gently stretch. Come back, bend your knees a little, and stretch.

And come back. And stretch. Okay, one last time. And stretch. Take the second spine exercise that the same way, carrying the ball with the knees slightly bent this time, and then take the ball to one side using your hip to more your hands, coordinated so that your energy come from the centre of your dantian. So your hip or your waist move your hands. Remember not to turn too much, just here is enough. And for the third time both side.

And turn to the other side. Okay, and then we’re working our way down to the hip. With the hips, if you are unstable it’s quite okay to hang on to a chair, hang on to a wall, or even sit down until you grow stronger in your strength. Take time to allow the muscle strength to develop, there’s no hurry in tai chi. Bring your hands up slowly, breathe in. And then bend your knees as your hands comes down, and then take a little step forward, push your hands back to balance, then you can have a rest in the middle, and then you can hands forward, and then bring your foot to the middle, and foot forward, hands back. Foot back, hands forward. And you can also just move right through, forward, and backwards. And let’s change your foot. Forward, backwards. Forward, backwards. One more time, forward, and backwards. The next hip exercise we’re going to imagine there’s a wall on one side and you’re just gently push against that wall with the bottom hand just below the elbow, bend your knees a little, stretch the left foot out, then change hands and stretch.

Change hands, push against the wall, and stretch. So this give you a very good way to maintain your centre and your balance while you are doing opposite direction. The last stretch. Then we’re moving down to the knee. Make two fist next to the hip and turn your toe out just a little so that you’re comfortable. Shift the weight to one side, the right side, and then touch your toe with the left foot, and then gently punch forward with the opposite hand, then come back, then change the foot, just touch the toe, and forward. Now if you are comfortable and strong enough in the knee it’s quite okay to gently stretch forward.

And let’s do it the other side. It’s a good way to practice balance. Only do that when you feel very comfortable, otherwise you can hang on to a chair. Okay. The next hip exercise we start the same way, with the fists on the side, bend your knees a little, and then take a step, just a little step to start with, the heel on the ground, put the foot down, and then gradually weight forward, hand forward, come back.

So this train you to be aware of your weight shift, heel first, foot, and then weight shift and keep your body upright. Come back. Step. Foot, weight. Come back. And foot. Weight. Come back. So you consciously being very mindful, step with the heel first, then your foot, and then your weight forward with the body upright. Now if you feel comfortable you can take a bigger step, well within your comfort level. Come back. And the next, working down to the ankles. We’re going to bend your knees a little and you’re going to touch down the heel, toe, heel, toe, heel, toe. The other side, heel, toe, heel, toe, heel, toe. And let’s turn your foot gently in, out, in, out, in, out. The other side, in, out, in, out, in, out. Have a shake. – [Narrator] Learn new forms. – Tai chi is different from many other form or exercise we use to. In the western world we’re use to exercise that work on the faster, the harder, the better. In tai chi, we move slowly, smoothly.

The slow movements seem so easy, but they are not as easy as they seem. Most people will need a few months to get use to the rhythm and the feel of tai chi, so please be patient. Give yourself time, it will be well worth it. In the world today we move too fast, we’re to stressed, and we need the gentle tai chi to connect our body to our mind and to restore, and to revitalise. Tai chi is derived from nature, and in nature fastness and slowness complement each other. Tai chi bring us back to nature and make us more balanced and healthier. And in all these lessons I will be using a similar format. Firstly, I’ll show you the whole movement for a overview. Then I split it up into little parts and teach one part at a time. – [Narrator] Dr Lam will show the commencement form. – I’m going to start showing you the posture and the steps first. With the posture keep your body upright, gently upright but not tense. So imagine your body is a string and you gently stretch both side of the string.

So imagine your body is a string and you gently stretch both end, and you’re being upright. And then with the stepping we’re going to start with your feet, heel almost touching and toes pointing out 90 degree, almost like Charlie Chaplin. However, some people will find it uncomfortable to have heels so close, or even unstable. Then it’s quite okay to separate your feet and make yourself comfortable. It’s very important to have a comfortable and safe position throughout the rest of these lessons. Minor things like this are not so important, we can adapt it for safety, and I point it out to you throughout the lessons. The important thing that make tai chi work so well is these principles, and I’ll point it out, as well. So let’s start with the stepping. The first thing you do is you bend your knees just a little, and transfer your weight to the right foot, and lift the left foot up and take a step forward with the left foot.

Heel touch down first, the whole foot, and then transfer the weight forward and bring the right foot next to the left so that both feet are parallel and roughly shoulder width apart. I will turn around so you can follow me to do the steps. Bend your knees a little. Weight on the right. Take a step forward. Foot down. Transfer your weight, bring the right foot next to the left shoulder width apart. Let’s do that again. Bend your knees. Step forward, heel first. Foot down. Weight forward. Bring the right foot parallel to the left. One more time. Knee bent. Step. Follow step. Let’s do the hands. Remember to stand upright without being tense. Bring your hands up slowly and breathe in slowly, to about shoulder height and shoulder width. So let’s do that again. Bring your hands up and breathe in. Now I also like to tell you something about the energy in your body. In the centre of your palm there’s a acupuncture point called lo gong, the name doesn’t matter, but this point is the centre of the energy of your upper limb.

And when the two points are facing each other they are communicating and then it grows energy. Well it’s a good way to think about it. So, with Sun style one of the characteristics is very often the two palms are facing each other. So keep that in mind and let’s do that one more time. Hands up and breathe in. Then from there your hands are going down and they move in a gentle curve towards you, and then up along your chest, and push them forward. So let me show you from the side. Hands up slowly, breathe in.

And then from here like you do visualise a U, the letter U. So your hands comes down is one side of the U, while you bend the knees little bit, and then bring your hands towards you in a gentle curve, that’s the bottom of the U. And when they come up along your chest that’s the other side of the U. So let’s do that again from beginning. Bring your hands up and breathe in. Then let’s start doing a U. Hands down, one side of the U, at the bottom of the U, up along the other side of the U, and then you push your hands forward. Okay, let’s do the stepping and the upper body together. Focus, check your posture.

Hands up slowly and breathe in. Hands down, breathe out. One side of the U, bottom of the U, and then shift your weight and take a step forward, hands up along your chest, push your hands forward, and follow step. Now follow me one more time. Hands up. Hands down, breathe out. Hands towards your body. Take a step forward. Hands up along your chest. Push your hands forward. And follow step. Let me tell you a story to make it easier to remember the movements. Imagine you have a ball, you don’t need it for real, but I just going to show you to make it easier to remember. So let’s say you have a friend and you bring your beautiful ball to show your friend and if your friend doesn’t like it you can bring it back down, towards, I’m going to keep it myself, and do you really want to have a look at my ball, here’s your second chance.

The next movement is open, close. And I’ll show you. It looks very simple, but it’s one of the characteristic movement of Sun style. When you get to do more of it you’ll find there’s quite a lot of depth in this simple movement. Bring your hands back slowly, slowly rotate so that your fingers are pointing up to the ceiling. Your palms are facing each other so the energy points are communicating with each other. Your hands are about the width of your head, and make sure that there is a space between your hands an your chest. Imagine that energy field in front of your chest or imagine that ball between your hands and your chest. And then you breathe in and you open up to roughly shoulder width. And you breathe out and you bring your hands back to the head width. Remember, if your finger doesn’t allow you to turn to this position comfortably, it’s quite okay to move to a position that’s comfortable to you as long as you do a open, breathe in, and close, breathe out.

I like you to follow me here, breathe in slowly, open very, very slowly, and breathe out slowly, and close slowly. Do that again. Open, breathe in. Close, breathe out. Now I like you to imagine between your palms there’s a magnetic force that when you open that gentle resistance that you have to move against. And the magnetic force reverse, you have to gently push it together and breathe out. I like to talk to you about how the knees bend. When you bend your knees it’s a good thing to bend just a little because some people might find bending the knee too low can give too much muscular strain. So when you do the open and close you do bend just a little, and if that still feel uncomfortable what you could do is as you open you can stand up, and then you can bend just a little again as you close.

And this way you give your knee a rest and it will still work. Later on when you get stronger you can then stay bent. It can take time but there’s no hurry. I would like to introduce one of my tai chi colleagues, Caroline DeMoines. Caroline is a master trainer for the Tai Chi For Arthritis program. She came from North Carolina, USA. Caroline. I’m going to turn around with my back facing you. I would like you to follow me and you can see the front view of Caroline. Focus. Commence. Hands up. Hands down, bend your knees. Take a step forward, hands forward. Follow step. Hands back. Open. Close. Stretch forward. And stand up. That’s wonderful, let’s step back and do it one more time. Okay. Focus. Hands up. Hands down. Step forward, hands forward.

Follow step. Breathe in. Breathe out. Stretch your hands forward. And come down. That’s great, one more time. Take a step back. Check your posture. Commence. Step forward. Hands forward. Follow step. Breathe in, open. Breathe out, close. Remember I talked to you earlier on about tai chi being a different exercise than others. One of the major characteristics of tai chi, we move slow and smooth. And when you do your practice, I like you to do this, move slowly and smoothly and use minimum strength you need to do this. It might take a little while to get use to, but once you get use to it I think you will enjoy it. And I will explain more why and how to do it better later as we go. – [Narrator] Follow Doctor Lam to run through Lesson 1. (soft traditional Chinese music) Let us do cool down exercises. – We’re going to do three cooling down exercise. The first one, you make a gentle fist and you gently tap your thigh.

You can lift your foot to what is comfortable height. Of course if you can, you can lift your knee a little higher. In the second cooling down exercise you’re gonna make two fists, very gentle fists, and then you tense and breathe in. Let go, breathe out. Tense, breathe in. Let go, breathe out. If you wish you can also stand on your toes. Tense, and let go. In the third cooling down exercise, we done before, breathe in, breathe out. Bend your knees a little. Breathe in. Breathe out. And for the third time, breathe in, and out. Practise daily. If you can, set the same time of the day to practice every day, which would help to form a good habit. Half an hour every day is a good period of time. Do remember, five minutes is better than none, and 10 minutes is better than five.

A good way to use this DVD is to practice for about one week and then come back to Lesson 2..

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