Postural Tai-Chi

Posted by Hans Lindgren DC on 28 January 2013 | 0 Comments


I recently received a website inquiry for more information on “Postural Tai-Chi” which I mentioned in one of my DNS blogs. I doubt there is much material available, so I thought it was a concept worthwhile expanding upon.

I would explain the method as follows:

Postural Tai-Chi – As described by Pavel Kolar is a method of restoring ideal movement patterns in an individual. It can be further explained as: the process of an individual moving from one position to another with perfect form (joint centration with proper stabilization) to re-establish the ideal program in the brain. Moving back and forth from one position to another creates a proprioceptive driven map of the movement in the brain. The muscles ability to stabilize a joint in a centrated position while performing both concentric and eccentric contractions is important for ideal movement patterns to occur.

A functional movement pattern depends upon joint centration, sufficient mobility, and good stability.  To evaluate the quality of an individual’s movement patterns a series of tests can performed. Describing all the tests in detail is a too big a topic for this blog, but I will give you a few examples: Breathing pattern, squat, bear position, as well as quadruped position (on hands and knees) to evaluate scapular stability.

Observing an individual performing a sport or other activity is a great way to identify dysfunctional patterns.  The ideal movement patterns are the same in all sports and activities. Sometimes we see top-athletes performing well even though they have dysfunctional movement patterns.  These athletes are not doing well because of the faulty movement patterns, they are doing well despite their poor patterns. Faulty patterns will dramatically increase the risk of injury.

Pavel Kolar described a method of identifying the faulty patterns by filming an athlete performing, and then going over the movements screen by screen to evaluate the quality of the stabilization in the different transitions from one position to another.  

When dysfunctional movement patterns have been identified a strategy to restore the ideal mobility and stability patterns can be designed. There is no simple “cook-book” with a generic recipe that fits all. Every person has to be individually assessed and depending upon each person’s ability to correct the patterns, or not, a decision made on what strategy to use.

When the individual can correct the pattern themselves they can go directly to specific exercises including “Postural Tai-Chi”.

If the individual cannot correct the faulty pattern, DNS practitioners have the options of using “Reflex Locomotion” or specific Therapist controlled exercises to “trigger off” the correct patterns. Once the ideal patterns have been “triggered off” the number of times required for that individual’s proprioceptive system to recognize the ideal pattern and thereby be able to reproduce it, the person is ready to perform exercises. Initially exercises are to be supervised by the Therapist to ensure that the form does not deteriorate. Perfect form is absolutely crucial to rebuild functional movement patterns. It should be viewed as a process of rebuilding the ideal movement pattern in the Central Nervous System. Once the ideal pattern has been performed over and over again it will become automatic, and so this is where “Postural Tai-Chi” is very effective.

Summary: Every person should be individually assessed for functional movement patterns, and any dysfunctional movement patterns should be identified and corrected. Once the individual can perform the movement pattern correctly exercises can be introduced. Performing postural Tai-Chi back and forth across the joint in a functional way will rebuild the proper pattern in the CNS.  Therefore every person would have their own individual “Postural Tai-Chi” program involving a series of moves aimed at correcting their weak patterns. The concept can also be used for a more generic combination of movements necessary for each specific sport and activity. 

An example would be:

A small portion of a lunge or squat pattern which showed dysfunctional stabilization has the proper pattern activated and then the individual moves back and forth across that joint position to eradicate the faulty pattern and replace it with a functional one.  

Postural Tai-Chi can be used across every joint in the body as soon as a functional movement pattern has been established. Performing exercises with poor form will never improve the function, but only further strengthen the faulty pattern in the nervous system.

Exercises will strengthen all movement patterns-both the good and the bad ones.

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