Monday, September 7, 2015

Will tai chi hurt your knees?

Students of tai chi may have heard about tai chi knees. Some people do tai chi for years and end up with knee pain. So much so some doctors in Hong Kong advised their patients with knee pain not to practise tai chi! Is tai chi really the cause? Is the condition of tai chi knees a result of good tai chi practice or faulty tai chi practice? I put myself to the test yesterday.

It is the beginning of Autumn in Hong Kong. The weather is still very hot (some 32 degrees Celsius) but eager hikers can't wait any more. I started my walk from my alma mater The University of Hong Kong up the Victoria Peak. The uphill road I chose, Hatton Road, is of moderate gradient. It is a family trail with moderate difficulty. Most of the path is shaded, though the weather was so hot that my sweater was soaked with sweat when I arrived the public toilet at the end of the road which joints the level circular trail round the peak. I changed into a dry sweater. After finishing my bottle of mineral water,  I turned left and proceeded along the longer end of the trail. Along the route, there are a number of sighting points where one can enjoy different panoramic views of the city. Tourists enjoying the view and some took selfie. Locals like me moved on.

At the Peak one can take a break and enjoy a bottle of cold drink. The unsuspecting tourists lined up at the prominent 7-11 for a coke while locals like me took the elevator to the third floor to buy the same drink from the supermarket there saving 30 to 40%.

After refreshing myself, I took the challenge going downhill Old Peak Road. According to official statistics, Old Peak Road has the greatest gradient in downhill road in Hong Kong. Its maximum gradient is 17 degree and its total length is 560 meters. Not easy task for senior citizens at 60! Downhill I walked, without stopping. It took me some 40 minutes to sea-level, arriving at Admiralty MTR station passing Bank of China Building where there was a magnificent sculpture - Tai chi by famous Taiwanese sculptor Zhu Ming.

I did not feel any knee pain yesterday nor any discomfort in my knees as I am typing on my laptop now. I passed the test.

In a coming post, I shall discuss what chi kung training methods will be needed to protect our knees instead of hurting them.

Zhu Ming's famous Tai chi sculpture in Bank of China building

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