Effect of tai chi
exercise on proprioception of ankle and knee joints
in old people
D Xu, Y Hong, J Li, and K Chan
of Sports Science and Physical Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Br J Sports Med. 2004
Objectives: To assess if tai chi, a traditional
Chinese form of exercise, could improve proprioception
in old people and if the effects of tai chi on proprioception
are more evident than other exercise forms in the elderly.
Methods: By detecting the threshold of
passive movement, ankle and knee joint kinaesthesis
was measured in 21 elderly long term tai chi practitioners (TC group), 20
elderly long term swimmers/runners (S/R group), and 27 elderly sedentary
controls (control group).
Results: Ankle joint kinaesthesis
differed significantly among the three groups (p = 0.001). Subjects in the TC
group could detect a significantly smaller amount of motion than those in the
S/R group (p = 0.022) and control group (p = 0.001). No significant difference
was found between the S/R group and the control group (p = 0.701). The
threshold for detection of passive motion was significantly different in knee
extension and flexion. For knee flexion, the TC group showed a significantly
lower mean threshold for detection of passive motion than the control group (p
= 0.026). There were no significant differences between the S/R group and
control group (p = 0.312), or between the TC group and S/R group (p = 0.533).
For knee extension, no significant difference was noted among the three groups
(p = 0.597).
Conclusions: The elderly people who regularly
practiced tai chi not only showed better proprioception
at the ankle and knee joints than sedentary controls, but also better ankle kinaesthesis than swimmers/runners. The large benefits of
tai chi exercise on proprioception may result in the
maintenance of balance control in older people.