While research has indicated that Tai Chi can be an effective intervention for knee osteoarthritis as well as promoting lower extremity and core strength, it is important to minimize torsion forces at these much abused joints. During Rehabilitative Tai Chi trainings one of the most commonly asked questions is how to protect the knees during stepping and walking gestures. While certain Tai Chi forms place great emphasis on specific foot placement, for our joint friendly rehabilitative purposes learning to “cheat the feet” will result in longer lasting knees and much more enjoyable practice.
During form movement, Tai Chi teaches us to attend to both an “empty” or free foot and a “full” or weighted foot. A common error for many novice students is to adjust or move the full foot resulting in rotational torsion forces at the knee. Slowing Tai Chi form movement down is one way to bring better awareness to weight shifting and safe transition with the empty foot.
A good rule to follow is keeping the knee and foot in parallel alignment and rotating the empty foot on its heel or ball to make this correction. Also, during bending and circling practices, remember to keep the knees behind the toes in the vertical plane protecting the patella-femoral joint from excessive posterior force. Please check out more specific correction ideas in the video portion of this newsletter.
How are you using Qigong & Tai Chi in your rehabilitation practice? Send in questions, comments, and share your experiences with the rest of the IRQTC community. Help us all to grow!