Growing with Taiji

by Marie Strauss on 2013/03/03

It seems that I am growing with each year of practicing Taiji!

In January of 2003, when I was in my late forties, I was diagnosed with Osteopenia and I measured 65 inches tall. At this time I had my first bone density test done that showed my spinal bone density T-score was -1.3. A “normal” score at this age level would be “0” so I knew that my bones were losing their density.

In January 2004 I started taking classes in Taiji at the Hunyuantaiji Academy in Edmonton. I began learning the Chen Style 81 Form or Old Frame Yilu and to the present date have not completely memorized the entire form. I attend one class each week for two hours, one hour for warm-up and foundations and the other for the form practice. The Taiji that I do is practiced gently, though it can be done very energetically if one wishes to. It is easily adapted to each individual’s personal physical requirements.

In October of 2004 I had my second bone density scan. I was pleasantly surprised that my height was now measured at 65.5 inches and my spinal bone density T-score was now +1.0. Most people are in a holding pattern and simply try not to lose any more bone density, but I had actually gained bone density – something of a medical miracle. This reversal of declining bone density was extremely welcome and I believe the result of my Taiji practice.

I continued practicing Taiji once a week and after a year had passed, I went for another bone density test and physical in November of 2005. The Doctor at this time said that she would not request a bone density test that year. The reason was that when she measured my height I was now 66 inches tall. I had been growing steadily one half of an inch each year!

I was told to continue doing whatever I had been doing as it was working.

I discovered practicing Taiji had also impacted my life in other ways. One of these especially was with skiing. I felt an immense improvement with my skiing as I felt more balanced and confident on my skis.

The outcome of an incident that happened to me can also be attributed to practicing Taiji. I jumped off the tailgate of our family’s pickup truck and I felt my ankle give away as I hit the concrete driveway below. It happened so quickly, but I still managed to perform a shoulder roll and immediately stood up (hoping that nobody was watching and witnessing this). Amazingly there was no injury whatsoever!

I am looking forward to the many benefits Taiji will continue to bring with each coming year. Taiji truly adds to one’s quality of life in many ways.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

jmhall February 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm

I have been teaching taiji in Vancouver and had a similar experience with one of my students. She was considerably older than Marie, probably in her mid 70’s but she, too, had an improvement in her bone density while she was practising taiji. She was part of a study at UBC and her doctors there were pleasantly surprised because they had only expected a holding pattern from the medication and they attributed the improvement to the exercise.


allanbelsheim February 23, 2008 at 10:55 am

My brother who was a doctor (now deceased) when told about Marie was astounded. He mentioned that when bone density is lost the best that they usually can do is to prevent further deterioration. Rebuilding the density he explained was like a small miracle. Marie does Taiji gently, but practices with great diligence and has made very good progress in her studies of Taiji.


Dr. Health March 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

Taiji is the best medicine for the self healing capacity of the body, both physical and psychological.


KT March 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Very encouraging story.


bruce.schaub March 8, 2013 at 10:44 am

It’s interesting to note, I think, that no all forms of exercise are “healthy”, and one’s approach to training must be guided by someone who knows how to train. As related to bone density, I read an article in the New York Times recently that dealt with research on how different forms of exercise work to increase or decrease bone density. Swimming and Cycling for example seemed to have a detrimental effect on bone density. The article didn’t talk about Taiji directly but Taiji is well known to improve bone density in practitioners, although exactly why is not conclusively known. As complex as the Human body is there are probably many factors.

The keys line in the article however that I found particularly interesting was….. “…..during certain types of exercise, the bone bends, but this doesn’t stretch cells; it squeezes fluids from one part of the bone matrix to another. The extra fluid inspires the cells bathed with it, to respond by adding denser bone.”


Allan Haddad March 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Good article, thanks Bruce. I feel this gives some scientific credence to the many unknowns yet to be discovered in taijiquan. In my opinion this favours Chen style in particular e.g. all the possible jumping and explosiveness.


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment
Leave a comment on the content only. For admin issues, please click the "contact" button on the top left.

Previous post:

Next post: