Ai Chi is a water-based strengthening and relaxation therapy that may help people with fibromyalgia (FM) achieve improved mental and physical health while also increasing quality of life, according to a study published in the July 2016 issue of the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.
According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), “Ai Chi bridges East and West philosophies by integrating physical, mental and spiritual energies. It combines Tai-Chi concepts with Shiatsu and Watsu techniques, and is performed standing in shoulder-depth water using a combination of deep breathing and slow, broad movements of the arms, legs, and torso. The Ai Chi progression moves from simple breathing, to the incorporation of upper-extremity, trunk, lower-extremity, and finally total body involvement.”
Sagrario Pérez de la Cruz of the Department of Nursing, Physiotherapy and Medicine at the University of Almería, in Almería, Spain, and colleague, Johan Lambeck of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Lovaina, in Lovaina, Belgium, aimed to investigate the effects of Ai Chi on the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of people with FM. An experimental pilot study was conducted with 20 females (aged 45 to 70) diagnosed with FM and recruited from two different clinics. The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and the Short Form-36 (SF-36) were used to measure physical and mental health scores, or health-related quality of life. Measurements were taken at the beginning of the study and again after completion of 10 treatment sessions, each lasting 45 minutes twice a week for 10 weeks.
The results of the pilot study are promising, and warrant additional research.
“After 10 treatment sessions, significant improvements (P < 0.05) were found in practically all the variables under study, with significant differences in values such as pain perception, vitality, mental health, as well as perceived overall improvement in quality of life,” the authors wrote.
The study concluded that “A water-based Ai Chi program may contribute to the improvement of mental and physical health and the quality of life in women with FMS.”
The study was funded by the University of Almería.