Spotlight On Advertiser: Using tai chi to decrease the risk of falls

Brad Scott

One in four Americans fall every year. In fact, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in the 65 and older population.

Not only can a fall cause hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries, but it also can cause fear and depression, making it difficult for someone to trust staying active.

Reducing the risk of falls is a great way to stay healthy, independent, and safe for as long as possible. And most falls can be prevented!

One great way to prevent falls is through practicing the art of tai chi. Arizona Orthopedic Physical Therapy (AZOPT) Tempe offers tai chi classes based off of the sun style (more on that later) taught by certified instructor, doctor of physical therapy, and black belt, Ian Larson.

Tai chi is a Chinese art of embracing the mind, body, and spirit. The essential principles include mind integrated with the body, control of movements and breathing, generating internal energy, and mindfulness. There are five major styles of tai chi, but the most common form taught in the United States is the yang style, which strongly emphasizes deep stances and reaching far outside the base of support.

While the Yang style improves the general activity of seniors, the best style for someone with balance and strength deficiencies is the sun style, which offers great benefits such as increased balance, strength, coordination, endurance, and overall general joint mobility.

Similar to the yang style, the sun style does not emphasize deep stances or reaching far outside the base of support. Instead, the sun style focuses on shorter stances and weight shifting within one’s base of support. Furthermore, the sun style incorporates adaptive techniques, such as using a chair if someone is unable to stand or in a wheelchair.

The sun style of tai chi is the only style of tai chi endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the positive effects of increased balance, strength, and coordination noted in senior populations after just a few months of weekly practice.

For days and times of available classes, contact AZOPT at 623-242-6908.