TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Chinese perfected Tai Chi for thousands of years, but new research is convincing East Texans to put it to use with positive results for those with chronic pain.
"Every movement that we do is self-defense oriented," said Brandon Jones.
But the movements are slower and more fluid. Jones has been teaching Tai Chi for nearly 30 years. He said the centuries-old martial art is still catching on.
"Tai Chi has no jarring or bouncing, or any damaging effects to the joints," he said. "It helps strengthen the muscles, so that as they get stronger, it helps alleviate pain."
Researchers at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston found Tai Chi helps alleviate the pain caused by fibromyalgia. Patients suffer from fatigue, sleeping problems and intense muscular and skeletal pain.
"We haven't found a good, isolated treatment for [fibromyalgia], or a really good isolated reason why people get it," said Dr. Chad McNeil, a physician with Azalea Orthopedics in Tyler.
McNeil said the research helps prove the case for Tai Chi as another treatment tool, as long as the diagnosis is accurate.
"You're going to find more validation in those older techniques, and as we advance in science, we'll be able to figure out why," he explained.
Jack Brown, 81, swears by it. He has been practicing twice-a-week, for 12 years.
"Meditation is good for the soul, good for the mind, good for the body," he said.
Research has already shown Tai Chi's effectiveness on arthritis and other pain conditions.
Fibromyalgia affects nearly 10 million Americans.
The study was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.