Tai Chi for Motivation Deficits
Many people who would benefit from movement do not perform regular exercise. Even people who seek the assistance of a physical therapist may not do much of the exercises. Despite the complexity of Tai Chi, the literature and clinical experience indicates that people are relatively adherent to a home exercise program that includes Tai Chi Chuan. Why might people practice Tai Chi Chuan so reliably? Perhaps practicing this intricate martial art is more interesting than most exercise routines as it seeks to engage the client on the physical, mental, social, and spiritual/philosophical levels.
A clinician's enthusiasm while educating the patient regarding potential benefits of Tai Chi Chuan practice may be contagious. People will be more likely to participate in an exercise regime if they expect it to make a significant improvement in function or comfort. Likewise, people may be less resistant to performing these gentle, slow exercises if they perceive them to be non-irritating to joints. People are more likely to perform exercises at home if they are given a digestible number to practice. It is possible to develop a Tai Chi Chuan exercise program that uses one posture or movement pattern to effect a change in strength, flexibility, alignment and anxiety.
The exotic, unique, cutting edge appeal of Tai Chi Chuan as a physical exercise and as a mental practice may lead people to have higher expectations for benefit from this discipline. Along with potentiating a beneficial psychophysiological response, these high expectations often encourage practice. Finally, because these movements can be complex, it is difficult for a client to hide non-adherence to Tai Chi Chuan. This enhanced ability to assess compliance facilitates a reflective and collaborative relationship that will enhance motivation.
Bill Gallagher learned early in his career that it was possible for him to know the right exercise for a particular person to do and just the right manual therapy to provide and still be of little help to that client if he was unable to help them find the motivation to do the exercise and to (as Woody Allen puts it) "show up". He has developed an approach to building motivation that can win over the toughest cases. He makes house calls for clients on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. His office is at 88th & Broadway in NYC.
Filed under: Tai Chi