The plantar pressure characteristics during Tai Chi exercise
The aim of this study is to quantify the plantar pressure characteristics of five fundamental movements and all one-leg stances of the 42-form Tai Chi to explain why Tai Chi exercise benefits the balance control and muscle strength when compared with normal walking. Sixteen experienced Tai Chi practitioners participated in this study. The Novel Pedar-X insole system was used to record the plantar pressure. Results demonstrated that the loading of the first metatarsal head and the great toe were significantly greater than in other regions (p < 0.05). Compared with normal walking, the locations of the centre of pressure (COP) in the Tai Chi movements were significantly more medial and posterior at initial contact (p < 0.05), and were significantly more medial and anterior at the end of contact with the ground (p < 0.05). The displacements of the COP were significantly wider (p < 0.05) in the mediolateral direction in the forward, backward and sideways Tai Chi movements and in one-leg stances. The displacement was significantly larger (p < 0.05) in the anterposterior direction in the forward movement. The plantar pressure characteristics found in this study may be one of the important factors that Tai Chi exercise improves balance control and muscle strength.