Changes in muscle strength, endurance, and reaction of the lower extremities with Tai Chi intervention

J Biomech. 2009 May 29;42(8):967-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.03.001. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


This study examines the effects of a 16-week Tai Chi (TC) training program on the muscle strength, endurance, and reaction time of the lower extremities of elderly people. A total of 40 elderly individuals (aged 60 years) completed the study. They were divided into two groups: the TC group (11 men and 11 women) underwent a supervised TC exercise program for 16 weeks, while the control group (9 men and 9 women) received general education for a comparable time period. Pre- and post-intervention measurements were conducted. An isokinetic dynamometer was used to measure the maximum concentric strength and dynamic endurance of the knee flexors and the extensors, and the maximum concentric strength of the ankle plantarflexors and dorsiflexors. The neuromuscular response of the rectus femoris, semitendinosus, gastrocnemius, and anterior tibialis muscles was measured by the onset latency to sudden perturbations using an electromyography system. After 16 weeks, the TC group showed a 19.9% increase in muscle strength of the knee flexors (p<.000) that was significantly greater than that in the control group (p=.046). There was also a significant decrease in semitendinosus muscle latency (6.6%, p=.014) that was significantly shorter than that in the control group (p=.042). No significant training effects were found in other measures. These results suggest that improving biomechanical characteristics of lower extremity muscles may need longer TC intervention for elderly people.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Tai Ji*