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The low impact forces of Tai Chi push-hand exercises may be particularly suited for older people and for those with arthritis; however, the biomechanics of push-hand exercises have not previously been reported. This paper examines the ground reaction forces (GRFs) and plantar force distributions during Tai Chi push-hand exercises in a stationary stance with and without an opponent. Ten male Tai Chi practitioners participated in the study. The GRFs of each foot were measured in three perpendicular directions using two force plates (Kistler). The plantar force distribution of each foot was measured concurrently using an insole sensor system (Novel). The results showed that the average maximum vertical GRF of each foot was not more than 88% ± 6.1% of the body weight and the sum of the vertical forces (103% ± 1.4%) generated by the two feet approximately equals the body weight at any one time. The horizontal GRFs generated by the two feet were in the opposite directions and the measured mean peak values were not more than 12% ± 2.8% and 17% ± 4.3% of the body weight in the medio-lateral and antero-posterior directions respectively. Among the nine plantar areas, the toes sustained the greatest plantar force. This study indicates that push-hand exercises generate lower vertical forces than those induced by walking, bouncing, jumping and Tai Chi gait, and that the greatest plantar force is located in the toe area, which may have an important application in balance training particularly for older adults.
Shiu Hong Wong is with the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. Tianjian Ji (Corresponding Author) is with the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. Youlian Hong is with the Department of Sports Medicine, Chengdu Sports University, Chengdu, China, and with the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China. Siu Lun Fok is with the Department of Restorative Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA. Lin Wang is with the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, and with the School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China.