fall prevention

Tai Chi master

I have recently taken to putting on the website articles which are not carefully crafted – rather they are what may be regarded as thought pieces – something quite traditional as one might recognise from the way the “Tai Chi Classics” were put together for example.

Once thinking about a topic after a while quite suddenly the thoughts just tumble out and it is all I can do to get them on paper – I simply don’t have the time these days to carefully craft them into well structured articles or to fill out the background on everything. So I must leave it to my readers to explore further. I expect that from time to time I will revisit and expand on points.

One that comes to mind is the reference to a difference between preventative and remedial Tai Chi when considering the health of older people. We can think that while a person has the ability to do normal Tai Chi exercises then this may be regarded as preventative of falls or other health issues – on the other hand once a person has reached a point where they can no longer do something like walk the length of a hall or stand for half an hour exercising then they are in need of remedial work. Preventative Tai Chi is simply exercising normally – but in the case of older people perhaps not so vigorously as we once did and can easily be accommodated in a normal beginners level class – this is why I often refer to them as “over 50s classes since  at that age people still have a good 10 years to learn and develop their skill  before they reach a point at which they would otherwise become vulnerable to falls. Start at 50 and one can hope to improve one’s proprioception, body mapping and Tai Chi skill to a point that staves off problems of falling.

On the other hand I sometimes see people with walking frames or in wheel chairs – or get phone calls from relatives who’s father/mother has just been diagnosed/admitted to a care home and  have seen that Tai Chi is good for their condition – and would I please go to the care home every day to teach their parent. Sadly it is expected that they have probably reached a point where more work is needed than either I or they can put in. It is possible they could do the work but unlikely if they do not already have the discipline, habit and skill  of doing it already. This is what I mean by remedial. In these case I suspect that some daily Tai Chi informed exercises and physiotherapy would be as helpful as anything else and would encourage physios and carers to learn enough to pass on simple exercises.

Recent examples of this sort of article include Thoughts on Tai Chi Movement and Martial Arts as a Philosophy also Managing getting Old with Tai Chi

Tai Chi Stepping at an angle

Experience has shown that Tai Chi is an effective practice for addressing the problems of falls in the elderly and others vulnerable to falls, leading to a reduction in risk in the order of 40% to 50%.

However while Tai Chi practice of itself can work well it is not necessarily suited to everyone. There are a wide range of contextual factors that need to be considered and which may improve the acceptance of a program to the participants e.g. the amount of social time and the quality of social interactions built into the class schedule. In addition it is clearly important to establish a lesson plan of Tai Chi based exercises focused on improvement of balance and mobility as well as being within the capabilities of the participants.

Read the full whitepaper here.

Tai Chi and alternative healthHaving for centuries borrowed from everywhere else in developing martial arts, those same ideas and practices are being fed back into the mainstream of society, for example by use of Tai Chi as a source of meditation practice, by use of partner work in developing co-operative approaches, using mindful physical practices to improve balance and mobility for falls prevention in old and vulnerable people, as a therapy for people with special conditions such as Parkinson’s, ME, Alzheimer’s etc., and many other potential avenues.

Personally I have come across many “good” people but few balanced human beings. In fact I think our society positively discourages the path of balanced humanity by seeking to drive out what are considered unacceptable but perfectly human behaviours – thus denying them rather than dealing with them – risk aversion being one such social attitude – emotional expression being another.

Read further here about the link between health and martial arts.

Tai Chi and Vertigo


I have found my balance improving recently and reflecting on my falls prevention work with older people who report similar experiences when practicing Tai Chi – so when a student mentioned her problems with Vertigo I thought I would do a quick bit of research. It seems that this is quite well documented so here are some links which I found interesting:






Tai Chi & Alexander Seminar for Professional and Familial Carers

12 September 2013

We are pleased to announce a one day workshop at The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living on Sunday 24th November 2013, 10-4pm. The workshop will focus on key concepts and practices from Tai Chi and the Alexander Technique, taught so as to facilitate a real sense of positive change in body and mind. It will […]

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Tai Chi for Carers

9 July 2012

A lady contacted me recently – her aged father suffering from Alzheimers had just been admited to a residential home – she refered to research suggesting that Tai Chi is good for Alzheimers sufferers and wanted someone to teach it to her father ideally for 20 mins a day. Unfortunately I could not help her or her […]

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Community class in Letchworth

24 January 2012

I am delighted that we are now holding a daytime beginners class at The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living as part of their Community Program – which also includes Group singing and Latino dance.  The Tai Chi class is on Monday mornings at 11.30 to 12.30 when we do some gentle exercises aimed at improving […]

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What’s the point?

30 November 2011

We were discussing this recently in one of my beginners classes – not that there was any doubt of the benefits of Tai Chi – but the class was looking for a way to encapsulate their thoughts. It was of course different for everybody – but may I sugest that for most of us the main […]

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Planning a Falls Prevention program

21 October 2011

I’ve done quite a bit of work recently teaching Tai Chi as a falls prevention program, with some brilliant feedback – but it has got me thinking a lot about the wider aspects of the subject and led me to produce a whitepaper on the considerations of setting up a Tai Chi based falls prevention […]

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Fall reduction research

11 May 2011

I am delighted that The Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living have managed to arrange a measured trial of Tai Chi classes to evaluate the effects of Tai Chi related exercises on balance and by extension on the likely risk of falls. Quality of life, longevity and cost to health career stakeholders are all major issues. […]

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