Meditative Movement

Tai Chi is an ancient practice proven to reduce pain and improve your mental and physical well-being. I go to a modified class for Arthritis, held by the Arthritis Foundation.

In 1997, Dr Paul Lam, a family physician and tai chi expert, worked with a team of tai chi and medical specialists to create the Tai Chi for Arthritis program. The special features of this unique program are that it is easy to learn, enjoyable, and provides many health benefits in a relatively short period of time.

So lesson one: Tai Chi for Arthritis is based on Sun style tai chi (pronounced “soon” as in– I will soon be learning tai chi!). This style was chosen because of its healing component, its unique Qigong (an exercise which improves relaxation and vital energy), and its ability to improve mobility and balance. The program contains a carefully constructed set of warming-up and cooling-down exercises, Qigong breathing exercises, a Basic Core six movements, an Advanced Extension six movements, and adaptations of the movements so you can use a chair for balance, or even sit on the chair for the entire class. Also incorporated into the program is a safe and effective teaching system.

Medical studies have shown that practicing this program reduces pain significantly, prevents falls for the elderly, and improves many aspects of health. For these reasons, Arthritis Foundations around the world have supported the program. And that’s why I’m at Arthritis Victoria today…they also provide the cheapest classes (and I received an added discount due to hardship!)

Supposedly, tai chi will help you:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase balance and flexibility
  • Feel relaxed
  • Improve your overall mind, body and spirit

Clinical Rheumatology reported that the Oregon Health & Science University’s Fibromyalgia Research Unit held a randomized controlled trial of 8-form Tai chi to gauge any improvement in symptoms and functional mobility in fibromyalgia patients.

Previous researchers have found that 10-form Tai chi yields symptomatic benefit in patients with FM. The purpose of this study was to further investigate earlier findings and add a focus on functional mobility.

Participants met in small groups twice weekly for 90 minutes over 12 weeks.

Of the 101 randomly assigned subjects, clinically and statistically significant improvements were seen in:

  • pain severity
  • pain interference
  • sleep, and
  • self-efficacy for pain control

No adverse events were noted.

Accordingly, the study reported that tai chi appears to be a safe and an acceptable exercise modality that may be useful as adjunctive therapy in the management of FM patients.

Tai Chi for Arthritis involves 12 movements or positions that are designed to be safe and beneficial for people with arthritis. Instructors of the program are trained to understand arthritis and ensure the movements are safe for participants. Tai Chi for Arthritis classes begins with warm-up exercises (lasting about 10 minutes) where you start at your head and move all the way down to your ankles. Each joint has two exercises, to reduce the chance of injury during the movements.

The leader then demonstrates and teaches one or two movements per lesson, encouraging us to learn the movements properly and slowly, working within your comfort limits. This week, we started with the Single Whip and Wave Hand in Cloud.

Single Whip

I start with my feet in a duck position (outward facing) and my hands by my side. Slowly lift your wrists, straight out and up, like two helium balloons are attached, up to shoulder height. the slowly lower them.  Then, while stepping forward with your right leg (heel first the toe), push your hands forward like you’re handing a ball to someone. Bring the ‘ball’ back (and your foot at the same time) to hold in front of you – then spread your arms by opening up your elbows. Allow your left hand to keep moving outwards (and slightly back) and watch it by twisting your head as far as you can go. Your right hand sort of just sits in mid-air waiting for something to do.

Ta Da! We’ve learnt our first form.

Wave Hand in the Cloud

From the position we left above, now move your left hand forward again, until it looks like you are trying to say stop. Your right hand moves beneath your left elbow – now you look like a traditional policeman trying to stop traffic. Take a step to the right, landing with your toe first followed by your heel – then wipe your right hand in front of your face, while your left hand moves to your right elbow. Remember Karate Kid? Wax on. Let your left leg move across to join your other leg (remember toe then heel) and wax off with your left hand. We do that 3 times, moving across the room. Then do it the opposite way. This is where we all get tangled up and obviously need to practice. My head doesn’t change direction that fast!

But hey! we’re doing tai chi! I think that was all the movements – at least, what I can remember from my first one hour session. It is all very slow, controlled and relaxing – just like in the movies – sort of like a moving meditation, as you’re concentrating so hard on breathing, moving hands and feet that you can’t think about anything stressful.

The lesson ends with cool-down exercises, lasting about three minutes.

I feel very calm and relaxed.

WEB•I•NAL•GIA

nalgia***I received notice of this webinar as a member of Arthritis Victoria. I thought this may be of interest to some of you.

On Wednesday 7 May, Dr Emma Guymer, head of the Fibromyalgia Clinic at Monash Medical Centre in Clayton, Melbourne will be presenting a webinar discussing the clinical features of FM and its triggers, as well as how it is managed.

Webinars1

About the Presenters
Dr Guymer is a rheumatologist with a professional interest in general rheumatology and fibromyalgia. She is and has been involved in rheumatology, fibromyalgia clinical care and research for the past 13 years, both in Washington DC, USA and in Melbourne. She is particularly interested in the interaction between psychology and pain.
Vanessa Jones, an Arthritis Victoria health educator and an accredited exercise physiologist, will highlight some of the key steps you can take to help you take control and play an active part in the management of your health and wellbeing.

Who can attend?
People living with FM and their family members, friends and colleagues, as well as other interested community members who wish to know more about this condition. If you have never taken part in a webinar before – fear not!…all you need is a computer with the latest version of ‘Flash’ installed. Arthritis Victoria will then send you further information on how to view the webinar. If you are unable to view it at the time of its screening, you will receive a recording post-event (if you have paid and registered).

Webinar2When?
Wednesday 7 May, 7 – 8pm AEST

Cost:
Arthritis Victoria member: AU$15.00
Non-member: AU$20

For further information and registrations
Project Officer – Health Promotion
Phone 03 8531 8022 or 1800 011 041 (toll-free)
Please note: If minimum participant numbers are not reached, Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria reserves the right to cancel or postpone the course/event.
Register online now.

Int Fibro

Rollercoaster Rush

My day was an absolute rollercoaster…

Woke up at 9.20am – not that bad, right? Except I had rehab at 10am! Jumped (as much as someone with totally sore bits can jump) out of bed, threw on some clothes and off I went – good thing that I laid out clothing last night!

 

As you know, I have only recently started driving short distances again – well, it started to rain on the way to rehab. Okay, turn on the intermittent wipers…cool. Then, it started to pour, just when I was trying to indicate and change lanes, between two trucks – AAARGH! Too much, too soon! I arrived at rehab in tears.

 

Had a wonderful hydrotherapy session at rehab. (Hmm, notice how short the UP posts are?)

 

 

 

After rehab, I had the all-important meeting at Arthritis Victoria with the General Manager of Development and Business Services.

 

 

Basically after about 45 minutes of talking about what a great job I’m doing at promoting awareness of FM, he suggested that I continue doing what I am doing or set up a peer support group. He cited all the government rigmarole as a giant hurdle plus the fact that I’m doing it all alone. I understand that BUT there is so much I want to do! Have to have a serious sit-down and think about what I’m going to do…especially as there appears to be less support from Victorian sufferers than the international sector (that’s mostly YOU!)

Exhausted after the meeting but have to make a stop at the post office (to send off another order from http://www.freewebstore.org/fibromodem) and supermarket – where a 90 year old lady asked me if I was alright because she thought that I looked like I was about to collapse – VERY SAD!

 

Finally got home and dumped wet towels, folders, notes from the meeting and shopping on the floor so I could just eat something – notice I haven’t eaten anything yet in this post and it’s about 3pm? Then, idiot that I am (sometimes), I turned on my computer and got side-tracked into reading emails and posts. By the time I had finished all of that, I had no time for a lie down before a 7.30 appointment.

 

7.30pm – Shiatsu. Thank you. Time to lay back, be pampered, be quiet and just get over the day.

 

 

 

 

Home

 

 

 

 

Food

 

 

 

 

Now sleep (hopefully!)

 

 

See? Rollercoaster.

A New (better?) Philosophy

One of the first things I did when diagnosed with a ‘probably fibromyalgia’ was get on the internet – leading me to blogs, medical pages and associations.  I immediately joined up to Arthritis Victoria, which has a library and loads of books about fibromyalgia.

So many of these sites remind us all to PACE YOURSELF. So that’s what I started doing. I organised a revised (with less hours) work schedule: I would go to work Monday afternoon for 3 hours, then rest Tuesday. Go to work Wednesday afternoon, then rest Thursday. Go to work Friday afternoon, and then after my busy week, need to rest all weekend. I still had pains, headaches and fog. I was still unable to go to work if it was a bad day. This ‘pacing’ wasn’t making me feel much better (it wasn’t making me feel much worse, though, either)

BUT this is not how I want to spend the rest of my life! This is an existence. This is mediocre! This is no fun (remember that word from your old lives?)!

SO…I’ve decided upon a new way of life. I’ve decided that I’m taking advantage of my good moments. I am NOT pacing myself. If I feel good enough to do a particular activity, then I’m going to do it. Yes, I will probably feel like shit later, and have to lie in the dark loaded on painkillers – But I am REFUSING to miss out on life when I do feel ok.

I do not want to sit on my couch for the rest of my life – so yes! I’m going to walk too far on a gorgeous day, at the beach, with a friend and her puppy!

Now I have to finish because my beautiful nephew Z is coming over – we will go for a walk to the park, we will draw pictures, we will play ball, he will suck all the energy out me – BUT it will be worth every minute of it!

Grab the good moments with everything that you have!

A New (better?) Philosophy

One of the first things I did when diagnosed with a ‘probably fibromyalgia’ was get on the internet – leading me to blogs, medical pages and associations.  I immediately joined up to Arthritis Victoria, which has a library and loads of books about fibromyalgia.

So many of these sites remind us all to PACE YOURSELF. So that’s what I started doing. I organised a revised (with less hours) work schedule: I would go to work Monday afternoon for 3 hours, then rest Tuesday. Go to work Wednesday afternoon, then rest Thursday. Go to work Friday afternoon, and then after my busy week, need to rest all weekend. I still had pains, headaches and fog. I was still unable to go to work if it was a bad day. This ‘pacing’ wasn’t making me feel much better (it wasn’t making me feel much worse, though, either)

BUT this is not how I want to spend the rest of my life! This is an existence. This is mediocre! This is no fun (remember that word from your old lives?)!

SO…I’ve decided upon a new way of life. I’ve decided that I’m taking advantage of my good moments. I am NOT pacing myself. If I feel good enough to do a particular activity, then I’m going to do it. Yes, I will probably feel like shit later, and have to lie in the dark loaded on painkillers – But I am REFUSING to miss out on life when I do feel ok.

I do not want to sit on my couch for the rest of my life – so yes! I’m going to walk too far on a gorgeous day, at the beach, with a friend and her puppy!

Now I have to finish because my beautiful nephew Z is coming over – we will go for a walk to the park, we will draw pictures, we will play ball, he will suck all the energy out me – BUT it will be worth every minute of it!

Grab the good moments with everything that you have!