Thoracolumbar Rotation During Tai Chi Movements-A Biomechanical Analysis of the Entire Peking Style Routine

Author: Christian Wehner1, Carina Wehner2, Hermann Schwameder3, Wolfgang Schobersberger1
1 Institute for Sports Medicine, Alpine Medicine and Health Tourism, UMIT - Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall in Tirol, Austria.
2 WuYuan - School of Chinese Martial Arts, Kungfu, Taijiquan and Qigong, Munich, Germany.
3 Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria.
Conference/Journal: Front Sports Act Living
Date published: 2022 Feb 2
Other: Volume ID: 4 , Pages: 834355 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fspor.2022.834355. , Word Count: 268

The impact of spinal mobility and sagittal spinal shape on the development of balance impairment supports the hypothesis that enhancing spine flexibility results in an improvement in postural balance ability. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether the range of motion of thoracolumbar rotation during the movements of the Tai Chi Peking style routine is sufficient to improve thoracolumbar flexibility. Three-dimensional kinematic and kinetic data were collected from eight athletes of the German Wushu Federation, while performing all movements of the entire Peking style routine (1) in a competition version corresponding to national/international championships and (2) in a health sport version performed with shorter and higher stances (i.e. a smaller distance between the feet and thus less knee flexion). For each movement the total mean and standard deviation values for the total range of motion of thoracolumbar rotation was calculated. Statistical analysis was performed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test for paired differences. Eight movements showed major differences (10.12-19.73°) between the two versions. For the remaining movements, only minor differences (0.7-9.56°) were observed. All movements performed on both sides showed no significant lateral differences. Most of the Tai Chi movements, regardless of the performed version, cover a range of motion of thoracolumbar rotation that has the potential to lead to an improvement of thoracolumbal spine flexibility with appropriate training. The most effective single movements (25.97-72.22°) are Brush Knee and Step Forward, Step Back and Repulse Monkey, Grasp the Sparrow's Tail, Wave Hand in the Clouds, and Fair Lady Weaves with Shuttle.

Keywords: Tai Chi; biomechanics; flexibility; postural balance; spine; thoracolumbar rotation.

PMID: 35187479 PMCID: PMC8849243 DOI: 10.3389/fspor.2022.834355