Newsletter #39 - October 2004
In this issue:
-- Dear Friends from Dr Paul Lam
-- TCA empowers people with chronic disease in HK Rehabilitation Society by Wilfred Kwok
-- It Worked for Me by James Wheeler
-- Tai Chi Breathing by Dr Paul Lam
-- Diabetes. How to Care for Your Feet by Your_Health, an Australian Medical Newsletter
Click on the title to read the article, and here to read previous newsletters
I have just returned from my lecture and workshop tour to Sweden, UK and USA. So many friends and colleagues who have spend much of their time to make this trip so successful and enjoyable to me. I would like to give a big thanks to everyone: Amenda; Gunor; Lesley; Margaret; Norm; Netta; Carolyn; Caroline; Pat; Sheila; Ralph; Russ; Yanchy; Wendy; Dan; Roy; Melissa; Steve; Doug; Troyce; Georgette; Bill and everyone I have met and worked with. I have met so many wonderful people who are enthusiastic about tai chi and with helping people. You have inspired me.
I had a great time visiting many places. Another big thanks to my friends who took me touring in their parts of the world. After catching my breath, I will write a report of the beautiful places I have visited with photos in next month’s newsletter.
The Parade Magazine which reaches most of the USA has an article on our program, Tai Chi for Arthritis. You can read it from this link. http://www.taichiproductions.com/images/newsletter/2004/parade_1104.jpg
In the last newsletter, I encouraged you to write Oprah Winifrey about the TCA program. If you have not done this yet please consider doing it via <www.oprah.com> if you or anyone you know has an improved quality of life as a result of the Tai Chi for Arthritis or the Tai Chi for Diabetes programs..
In this issue, Wilfred Kwok, physiotherapist from the Hong Kong Rehabilitation Society shares with us their experience using Tai Chi for Arthritis for people with arthritis and othe chronic diseases. James Wheeler tells us how tai chi has changed the quality of his life. Also in this issue, I talk about how to breath effectively in tai chi. Your_Health, our regular medical newsletter from Australia writes about how to take care of your feet for people with diabetes.
Overcoming Arthritis is a book written by award-wining author Judith Horstman (the author of Alternative Therapy by the Arthritis Foundation) and me. This book shows how you can use tai chi to help take control of arthritis and your life. It contains comprehensive information on arthritis, tai chi, the Tai Chi for Arthritis program, orthodox and alternative therapies. The book contains over 260 photos of all the movements and clear instructions on the program. It can be a useful reference for people with arthritis and for rheumatology professionals. It is the feature product of this month, apart from 10% discount; you will get an extra copy free for buying three books together.
The most useful review of this month came from Amanda, She says: “…I bought Dr. Lam's video and practised with it last week. At my class on Tuesday my instructor was really pleased with my progress. I seemed to have improved so much in just a week. I didn't let on that I'd used Dr. Lam's video!...” Amanda please contact our office to claim your copy of my Tai Chi Music CD.
You can read hers and other comments at this link: http://www.taichiproductions.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=4
Below is a list of my coming workshops. For more information go to: http://www.taichiproductions.com/workshops/index.php
- 20-22th November 2004:Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Training Workshop in Christchurch, NZ
- 9-15th January 2005: Sydney, Australia - One week Tai Chi Workshop
Please note the January workshop is 70% full now with several courses already filled, please register ASAP if you wish to come. You can registered online by going to Workshop/Calender and click the date of this workshop.
The brochure for the June 2005 workshop in Florida USA is now ready. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to get brochures for you and your friends.
Paul Lam MD
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"What about the breathing?" Numerous students have asked me this question. Some teachers believe that breathing patterns should be very specific. For example, in each and every part of a movement, they recommend a specific breathing pattern-in and out, slowly or quickly. These teachers feel that the breathing has to be just so for each movement. I find this method difficult and think it can impede improvement for some students. It often leads to too much focus on the breathing and distraction from focusing on the essential principles. No two people are the same. They have different lung capacities and different speeds in their movements so to coordinate in the same specific pattern with others would be difficult for many. In addition, this can lead to forced or contrived breathing which can be harmful.
Correct breathing is an important part of tai chi. Here's a simple guide based on essential tai chi principles. The key is the storing and delivering of energy because tai chi is a martial art with emphasis on internal energy. Every tai chi movement alternates between gathering, storing and then delivering energy. Often the classics describe it as opening and closing. When you open, it's storing energy like someone drawing an arrow in a bow; in closing, the energy is delivering so it's like shooting the arrow. Keep this image in your mind and the rest will be easy to follow.
When you're inhaling (storing energy), think of taking in the life energy-oxygen- into your body. When you deliver energy or force, you exhale. This can be applied to almost all tai chi movements since they are, in essence, alternating opening and closing movements.
When your hands pull apart or when you're stepping forward, that's an opening movement. For example, in the Sun style opening and closing movement, when your hands are in front of your chest, opening up, you breathe in to store energy. When your hands come together, you breathe out, delivering energy. Another example is Single Whip in Yang style. At the end of Single Whip, even though your hands are opened out, it's actually a closing movement because that's where you deliver the force, so you breathe out. Using this logic, you can see in Chen style's punching movements, when you're bringing your hands closer to store up energy, that's an in breath and when you punch out, that's the out breath.
And then there's up and down movements. When you move your hands up, you're storing your energy, and therefore you breathe in. When you bring your hands down, you're delivering energy-shooting the arrow-so you breathe out. Likewise, when you stand up and bend down.
Use this guide throughout your tai chi forms. Whenever you're in doubt, focus on practising the form correctly: Relax, loosen your joints and you'll find your breathing will be correct. Don't force or hold your breath. Simply allow your body to breathe naturally when in doubt.
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Foot problems are the commonest cause of admission to hospital for people with diabetes. However, many complications can be avoided with good preventative treatment and a simple, daily foot care routine.
Over time, diabetes can damage the nerves to the feet, causing numbness, tingling or burning. When there is a loss of feeling, minor skin injuries may not be detected and may lead to ulcers.
Diabetes can also cause poor circulation, reducing the blood supply to the feet. This may lead to leg pains when walking or at night in bed, cold feet and reddish-blue discolouration. Poor circulation causes slower healing and a higher risk of infection.
To keep your feet healthy, control your glucose and cholesterol levels. Try to stop smoking, get daily exercise and have your blood pressure checked regularly.
Golden rules of foot care:
- Inspect your feet daily for any redness, cuts, blisters, rash, calluses, corns or pus. If this is difficult, use a mirror or ask a family member to help. Consult your GP immediately if any problems appear.
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water and dry carefully between toes.
- Wear soft, comfortable and well-fitting shoes. Always wear socks or stockings.
- Carefully cut toe nails straight across with clippers to avoid ingrown toenails.
- If you have nerve damage or poor circulation see a podiatrist regularly.
- Never walk barefoot.
- Use a daily moisturiser if your skin is dry. Dry skin cracks can let infection in.
- Check inside shoes for hidden objects or rough edges before putting them on.
- See a podiatrist for corns and calluses.
- Avoid extreme temperatures e.g. direct heat from heaters or hot water bottles.
More info: www.diabetesaustralia.com.au.
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Two years ago I was encouraged to join a tai chi class for arthritis sufferers. My rheumatologist, Dr. E. McGirr, had been treating me for 10 years for osteoarthritis in my hips, wrists and back with not much success. Prednisone, anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers had little or no effect. About two and a half years ago I had surgery (a laminectomy) on my back to relieve a crushed sciatic nerve. I was in constant pain, could not walk 100 metres or upstairs or on uneven ground or slopes. I needed the aid of a walking stick. I tried physiotherapy, acupuncture, aquatherapy and heavy medication for pain, but still I could not stand for more than a few minutes. It seemed the surgery had not fixed the problem and had achieved nothing.
I became very depressed and would not go out of the house since the only relief was to lie on the bed flat on my back. When people asked how I was feeling, I would burst into tears. I was at my wits' end.
As a last resort, Dr. McGirr gave me a pamphlet on tai chi. I began in a class run by CHEGS Inc. under the instruction of Sherry Walker of Casino who had trained under Dr. Paul Lam. I was the only man in the class, and I stood at the back of the room just in front of a chair, and I sat down every five minutes. I was keen to learn, but my body was aching all the time. I was encouraged by Sherry to practice the movements at home in the pool as much as I could. After about 10 months I was beginning to feel confident and strong. I had left my stick at home and walked up the stairs instead of taking the chair lift. Twelve months of Tai Chi had given me confidence and I was at the front of the class rearing to go. I even joined the group at the park early on Tuesday mornings. I spoke to every friend I had and to strangers as well about how tai chi was improving my well-being..
Two more terms and I was the most confident student in the class. My aches and pains had disappeared; I felt good and had firmed up my wasted muscles. I was keen to learn as much as I could and practiced every day.
My specialist said she was amazed at my improvement, and she had used my name and condition speaking to many patients of hers and encouraged them to join a class. My own sons keep telling me that whatever it is that has made me so well and active, to keep it up because 12 months ago they had no hope for me and had expected that I would soon be in a wheelchair.
I would encourage any person of any age wishing to improve their standard of well-being to join a class of tai chi. I don't know whether it is the slow and gentle movement or the concentration, but I know that is has worked for me, and I will continue as long as I am able.
Happy tai chi -ing
Casino, NSW Australia
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END OF NEWSLETTER
Warning: Dr. Lam does not necessarily endorse the opinion of other authors. Before practicing any program featured in this newsletter, please check with your physician or therapist, the authors and anyone involved in the production of this newsletter will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any injury which may arise as a result of following the instructions given in this newsletter.
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