Effects of long-term Tai Chi practice on balance and H-reflex characteristics

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The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of long-term Tai Chi practice on postural balance and H-reflex. Sixteen healthy volunteers, eight with three or more years of experience in Tai Chi training (Tai Chi Group-TCG), and eight with no experience in Tai Chi training (Control Group-CG) participated in the study. Postural sways were measured under four experimental conditions: (1) Standing still with eyes open (EO); (2) Standing still with eyes closed (EC); (3) Standing and turning head to left and right with eyes open (EOT); and (4) Standing and turning head to left and right with eyes closed (ECT). Paired reflex depression (PRD) of the soleus muscle was measured under two conditions: supine and standing. Less significant postural sway was observed in the TCG than in the CG under four conditions including EO, EC, EOT, and ECT (p < 0.01). The TCG demonstrated 14.1%, 30.6%, 33.3% and 22.7% less postural sway, respectively. Significant PRD change from a supine to standing position was observed between TCG and CG (p < 0.05). A significant correlation between PRD change (from supine to standing) and years of Tai Chi practice was observed (r = 0.80, p < 0.05). The findings of this study support the positive effects of Tai Chi exercise on balance control under different conditions. Long-term Tai Chi exercisers also demonstrated different reflex modulation from a supine to standing position, and long-term Tai Chi practice may lead to a change of PRD modulation as neuroadaptation. © 2011 World Scientific Publishing Company & Institute for Advanced Research in Asian Science and Medicine.

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American Journal of Chinese Medicine

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