h/t to our taiji sister Kim Ivy in Seattle, here’s a recent article on a clinical test of the benefits of taiji for fibromyalgia patients:
In this study, 66 people suffering from fibromyalgia were randomly assigned into a control group and a Taiji treatment group. None of them had practiced Taiji before.
I dug out the original article and here’s an excerpt on the exact taiji program:
The tai chi intervention took place twice a week for 12 weeks, and each session lasted for 60 minutes. Classes were taught by a tai chi master with more than 20 years of teaching experience. In the first session, he explained the theory behind tai chi and its procedures and provided participants with printed materials on its principles and techniques. In subsequent sessions, participants practiced 10 forms from the classic Yang style of tai chi [footnote: China Sports. Simplified “Taijiquan.” Beijing: China Publications Center, 1983:1-5.] under his instruction. Each session included a warm-up and self-massage, followed by a review of principles, movements, breathing techniques, and relaxation in tai chi. Throughout the intervention period, participants were instructed to practice tai chi at home for at least 20 minutes each day. At the end of the 12-week intervention, participants were encouraged to maintain their tai chi practice, using an instructional DVD, up until the follow-up visit at 24 weeks. (Wang et. al. 2010, pp.745-746)
The control group had a similar schedule of semiweekly meetings with 40 minutes of lesson/discussion on health and wellness, followed by 20 minutes of supervised stretching exercises. They were also instructed to practice stretching for 20 minutes daily.
At the end of the 12 weeks, 26 out of the 32 subjects (81%) who completed the Taiji program had “clinically meaningful improvement,” compared to 13 out of the 29 (45%) who completed the control/stretching program. (The dropouts in each condition were due to schedule conflict.)
Improvement after the 12 weeks plateaued for both groups (no more biweekly classes, subjects were practicing Taiji or stretching on their own). — Moral of the lesson: Though the improvement sustained through self practice, learning Taiji from a DVD isn’t that helpful! :)
Chenchen Wang et. al. “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia.” N Engl J Med 2010; 363:743-754.