Joint kinetics during Tai Chi gait and normal walking gait in young and elderly Tai Chi Chuan practitioners

Author: Wu G, Millon D
Affiliation: Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401, USA
Conference/Journal: Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon).
Date published: 2008 Mar 12
Other: Word Count: 285

BACKGROUND: Tai Chi Chuan is becoming a popular exercise among elders. This study measured the inter-segmental forces and moments at the lower extremity joints during a Tai Chi gait as compared to those during normal walking gait, in both apparently healthy young and elderly Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. METHODS: Three-dimensional inter-segmental joint reaction force and moment were computed using the Inverse Dynamic Approach based on the kinematics and ground reaction force measurements in a laboratory setting in six young (two females, mean age 28; SD 6years) and six elderly (five females, mean age 72; SD 8years) subjects who had previous training of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. FINDINGS: The results showed significant gait differences in both age groups, with significantly smaller peak compressive forces, larger peak shear forces in the ankle, knee and hip joints, and larger peak moments in the knee and hip joints during Tai Chi gait as compared to normal gait. Moreover, the peak shear force was oriented more in the medial-lateral direction at the ankle and knee joints, and the peak moment was in the frontal plane at the knee and hip joints. The results also showed significant age differences, with significantly smaller peak shear forces in all three joints in the elderly group than in the young group during Tai Chi gait. INTERPRETATION: Tai Chi gait has an increased shear force and frontal plane torque at lower extremity joints than normal gait. The shear force at all three lower extremity joints during Tai Chi gait is lower in the elderly subjects than young subjects. This data suggest that, in Tai Chi Chuan training, elderly people with degenerative joint diseases in the lower extremity should use caution when practicing Tai Chi Chuan.
PMID: 1834241