Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Tai Chi all of the muscles groups?

 Whether you divide the body into 8: {shoulders, arms, back, abdomen, chest, butt, thighs and calves.},  11: { arm:{fore,bi,tri,shoulder} core: {chest,trap,lat'dorci,abs} leg: {quad,ham,calf} } or more major muscle groups, we can probably agree that we use some muscles to exercise.

Mentally, as I exercise, I observe internally, (if I pay attention):
  • face: eyes, jaw
  • neck
  • upper back and shoulders
  • biceps
  • triceps
  • lower back
  • lats (Obliques)
  • core
  • gluteus
  • hands/forearm
  • thigh (anterior extensor)
  • medial adductor (inner-thigh)
  • hamstring (posterior flexor)
  • calves
and eight areas of articulation: ankles, knees, hips, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, neck.
Each of these 'groups' are used in one or more of the sports that I have actively participated in. Without getting distracted by my incorrect list lets assume that it is correct and look at the Beijing 24/ Yang style short-form Tai chi. Specifically what does each movement focus upon physically, (other than balance and breathing.)

[Make your list and then notice which groups are worked upon the least.]

This is obviously the wrong way to look at Tai Chi or any 'Eastern medicine' as it is intended to be holistic. (Each movement may work on multiple major groups, and subtly upon many of them.) But if you take the Yang style long form and reduce it to 24 movements, are you sacrificing one of the muscle groups in my list?

Why does this matter? Well I was doing some exercise research that worked on my core and then did my Tai Chi, (short-form.) I realised that only in "kick with the heel" did I flex my sore lower abdomen.

This made me go through the eight pieces of brocade to check muscle groups and articulation points and found that it seemed to cover more groups in fewer movements. Also I could engage my abs or not in some of the movements. Hardly conclusive, but if Tai Chi were to be a supplement to the 8PB, which Tai Chi movements would have the least overlap with those eight movements?

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