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ME/CFS: A disease at war with itself
We can all agree that ME/CFS is a nasty disease, particularly in its severe form, but there are abundant nasty diseases in the world. What is unique and particularly confounding about our disease is that so much controversy surrounds it, and not only surrounds it, but invades it too.
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Tai Chi

Discussion in 'Alternative Therapies' started by Ronan, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. Ronan

    Ronan Senior Member

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    Anyone tried out Tai Chi? I've heard its a very slow moving technique without too much movement so thought it might be worth a go. My only worry is an hour long class would be too much for me probably. If anyone on here has given it a go I'd love to hear how you got on with it
  2. Nielk

    Nielk

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    A couple of years ago, I did try it. I bought a cd of easy tai chi moves. I feel like I benefited a lot from it. It is a combination of movements and meditation.
    It calmed me down and the easy movements were good for me. Unfortunately, my condition has regressed. I'm trying to build up my stamina so that I can go back to it.
    I strongly recommend it.
  3. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    It was awful for me and resulted in a downturn in my all over general functioning.

    The classes that I have tried (on different occassions over the decades) have all been standing up with arm movements. Standing on my legs in the way it is taught and using my arms is the worst thing that I can do for blood pressure / OI problems. This gets more severe the more I try to go the Tai Chi.

    I notice the same problems trying to brush my hair and trying to fold clothes (as examples). If I do tai chi my ability to do these things deteriorates. Even at a slow and slight rate. Appears that my body has a limit and tai chi is a drain on this limit. Sitting down makes some difference.

    As I am not particularly stressed out in my day to day life the relaxation side of it wasn't worth the physical disability caused sadly. No benefits to me.

    We are all different so may be helpful to some people. Possibly those who can stand and use arms with less problems maybe?
  4. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    I took a Tai Chi class years ago and loved it. Receding energy and other demands on my time lead to my failing to continue it very long after the class and I have now forgotten the form that I learned. Just reading this post makes wish I could remember it so that I could get up and do it right now.

    The class that I took was organized by a cancer patient support program, but was open to the general public. The instructor was very willing to help students modify to movements to suit them. I have read about hospitals that offered Tai Chi classes done while sitting in a chair. Traditional Tai Chi forms move mostly to the right because the ancient Chinese thought that was best. Modern, medically oriented Tai Chi forms move equally to the right and left.

    If you find a class, talk to the instructor before enrolling. You might be able to sit down and watch the last part of the class or take sitting breaks throughout the class.
  5. RustyJ

    RustyJ Contaminated Cell Line 'RustyJ'

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    I found it very difficult. The mental concentration required was very fatiguing. I worsened in the long-term.
  6. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    I was into my third year of regularly doing it when I developed ME/CFS. I found I had to give it up due to this illness.

    Standing is bad for many of us with ME due to the OI. Raising arms.. can be a POTS trigger so it can also be bad for that reason too.

    Interestingly.. just before I gave it up, after one session of it, I left class with a big hard knot in my back which then was there for months.

    The best exercise for us is usually weight bearing ones, stretching or laying kinds of exercise . Yoga would probably be a better kind of exercise if you are up to it.
  7. Ronan

    Ronan Senior Member

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    Hmmm, doesn't sound too promising. I might look into Yoga instead. I tried Yoga before with poor results, maybe another go starting off slower than last time.
  8. charityfundraiser

    charityfundraiser Senior Member

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    Hi Ronan,

    There is a wide range of tai chi classes. Some are targeted for senior citizens and some are for younger people interested in tai chi as a martial art. Availability and quality may depend on your location. You can talk to the teacher to explain the illness situation and that you might have to sit down for part of the class. Find a beginner class and a teacher who will work with you. Also, all tai chi movements can be done with varying levels of intensity. You can make your movements softer and slower. You can stand higher (easier) or lower, ie. the amount you bend your knees and how far apart your legs spread.

    Before I felt well enough to go out to a class, I tried some yoga videos. I think yoga is a lot more strenuous, but I think it actually worked a little better at releasing muscle spasms. Tai chi has more movement but not too strenuous. Yoga needs more muscle to hold certain positions and the stretching may be more difficult.

    I started a one hour tai chi class in September. I took coenzyme Q on the day of class and sat down whenever the teacher was talking. I do the movements softer than everyone else. By the end of the 3 month class, I no longer needed to take coenzyme Q to get though the 1 hour class and didn't need to sit down. I do have to recover a bit afterwards though. Now I'm doing a 1.5 hour class and another 1 hour class each week. At first, the 1.5 hour class was too much but again, that improved. I still sit for a few minutes during a class break and while the teacher is working with other groups of students. I'm trying to increase my practice time at home too.

    There are different styles of tai chi. Chen and Yang are the most popular. Chen has more obvious martial aspects. Yang beginner movements seem more like water. I'm doing both right now. My advice is to find the highest quality teacher in your area as they will be more likely to teach tai chi correctly and understand Chinese medicine. One of my teachers was on the Chinese national team and studied at a sports university. She gave me a 2 minute massage on my neck while checking out my limited range of motion and it worked to release the muscle spasms and pain more than two professional massage therapists did in 3 hours. She's given me a couple more 5 minute massages and they really helped. I asked her what kind of massage it was and she just said it was a simple Chinese massage. This class is very small, 1-5 people, so she can tailor the teaching to the student. She teaches me and the elderly students exercises to strengthen health.
  9. Jimk

    Jimk

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    Hi Ronan- I've been doing, and teaching, Tai Chi for about 25 years, even throughout this crappy illness. Charityfundraiser gave a great precis of what's out there. I think it is a great structure to support leg strength, balance, overall energy, breathing, and so on. It is also a movement system in which one can perpetually learn something new. That's great for the long term if you find you like it. Having a class to go to is also a great way to get over the natural resistance to getting moving we have from being ill.

    The main thing, as in any exercise for us, is to take it slow and build up gradually. Tai Chi can be deceptive for CFS'ers in that the movements are slow and it is not aerobic, yet the combo of leg usage and mental concentration, especially as you are trying to learn and remember complex movements, can be taxing. The other thing I've noticed for new students who have CFS/Fibro is that joints, especially knees and ankles, can become achy until you build up more leg strength. The hard part for me is when I'm not teaching it myself and I'm at the end of a long day... I just want to sit! Fortunately, wife makes me go to class anyway :angel: because she knows I will feel better afterwards.

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