Because Tai Chi gradually builds muscle strength and improves flexibility, physical therapists and physicians advocate it to individuals with a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. The soft-velvety motions of this gentle Chinese exercise are customized for alleviating sore muscles and joints.

According to physician, Tai Chi master, and Australian family practitioner, Dr. Paul Lam, there is no question that if done appropriately, Tai Chi can be an exercise that generates benefits for arthritis sufferers. It is an activity that virtually any person who can walk can safely do. Dr. Lam started practicing Tai Chi almost three decades ago to relieve his own osteoarthritis. He believes Tai Chi gently takes the joints through their range of movement while its aspect of inner stillness and breathing addresses anxiety and stress.

According to California rheumatologist, Peter Stein, M.D., Tai Chi is especially helpful for people suffering from severe muscle pain and fibromyalgia. He says, “Yoga is very difficult to perform when you are in pain, you need something more soothing and milder, and Tai Chi is quite effective in alleviating pain.”

In a 1991 study that lasted ten weeks, the safety of Tai Chi for people with rheumatoid arthritis was evaluated. As the end of the study, researchers concluded that the exercise’s weight-bearing factors have the ability to strengthen connective tissue and spur bone development.

A study performed in 1991 that observed practicing Tai Chi patients with multiple sclerosis found that the exercise it played a key role in improving the overall quality of life for people with disabling chronic conditions.

Tai Chi is an excellent option for people experiencing symptoms of MS, fibromyalgia, and arthritis given its low impact and validation that it promotes balance and muscle strength, and provides overall relief of pain.

Christina Prieto is an Orlando acupuncturist, a certified Yoga instructor and the founder of Harmony Wellness center in central Florida.