Tai Chi and Hypermobility Syndrome

As a Tai Chi Instructor I live with the genetic defect Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS).  The really good news is that Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Meditation are all recommended ways to help gently aid the symptoms.

I changed career becoming a Tai Chi and Qigong instructor, and have been teaching since 2010. My  physical health went through lots of changes and I chose to adapt my life to try and be gracefully productive. I could no longer stay seated for long period which led to chronic/acute pain, reduced mobility, excessive muscular contraction and fatigue. I used my previous experience in adult education to turn my hobby into my job and I am so lucky I did.

Hypermobility is an invisible condition, no one knows what it means for an individual. I certainly don’t act like I am ‘sick’ and I don’t move like a typical ‘ill person’. No one can see what goes on in my body, the effect on the bones, veins, muscles, organs and connective tissue, the lack of healing and ease of injury, nor the mark it leaves trying to live a normal life.  My consultant is certain that through my Tai Chi and Qigong practice I am preventing some of the more extreme symptoms that would be typically present at this stage in degeneration.

This video discusses EDS and ‘new and emerging manual therapies’. It mentions the benefit of qigong and tai chi, along with breathing exercises.

Condition

  • Ehlers Danlos
  • Hypermobility Syndrome is a genetic connective tissue disorder caused by a collagen defect
  • Connective and soft tissues are more elastic
  • Joints move beyond their normal range of motion (double jointed)
  • Causes joint instability
  • Hyperextension of joints

Primary Symptoms

  • Connective tissue, soft tissue, vascular and dermal weakness due to lack of collagen
  • Vascular, digestive, urinary dysfunction
  • Acute and chronic pain
  • Injury easily; sprain, dislocation, torn muscles, torn skin, bruises
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic muscular contraction
  • Joint pain when weight/pressure applied for too long a time period e.g. sleeping / sitting
  • Leads to chronic fatigue as have to constantly move when still e.g. sitting/driving/sleeping
  • Early onset of arthritis

Tai Chi and Hypermobility Syndrome

The Hypermobility Blogspot recommends Tai Chi (and in turn Qi Gong) as recommended exercises for the syndrome as this falls in the category of  “joint-healthy physical activities”.  Tai Chi and Qi Gong are low impact, gentle yet powerful movements that aid all body systems including joint health.

The slow meditative practice also helps to improve proprioception (knowing where you body is in space or knowing how your limbs are oriented to your body) by building up a heightened sense of body awareness. This is important in hypermobility syndrome so that you can learn to align your posture correctly without exaggerating the over extension of the joints.

Meditation is also recommended to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, depression and physical tension.

Tai Chi is also recommended by Dr. Alan G. Pocinki who wrote a medical paper titled “Joint Hypermobility and Joint Hypermobility Syndrome”.  He stated “AVOID high-impact exercises, such as sports that involve running, jumping, or physical contact. Swimming or water exercises, walking, Pilates, and Tai Chi are good choices. Some forms of yoga are OK, but others are not.”  These ideas are echoed in the article “Pain in the Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS)” by Dr. Jaime F. Bravo, Rheumatology-Osteoporosis.

Hypermobility Syndrome Resources

Hypermobility Hope Blog

2011 Hypermobility Conference Documents

Surviving and Living with Chronic Illness

 

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