The Best Shoes for Tai Chi
Tai chi is a great exercise option for seniors, people recovering from surgery and anyone else looking for a low-impact workout. According to an article from Harvard University, tai chi is a "mind-body practice" originating in China that is characterized by unforced, circular movements and little stretching or extending. Because of its relaxed environment and low physical demand, tai chi offers several options when it comes to shoes.
Tai Chi Shoes
Martial arts suppliers and studios often carry shoes designed especially for tai chi. They feature a thin rubber sole and canvas upper and come in various colors. The styles resemble boat shoes, ballet flats or ankle boots. Some tai chi studios may have a dress code requiring a certain style of tai chi shoe; check with your instructor before purchasing.
If you do not wish to purchase tai chi shoes, you may wear tennis shoes or any other flat, flexible fitness shoes to practice tai chi. According to the World Tai Chi & Qigong Day website, heeled shoes are discouraged because they make balancing difficult and change the way the body moves. If you practice tai chi at a studio, check with the instructor before wearing something other than the recommended type of shoe, as certain shoes can damage specialized flooring.
Some tai chi instructors encourage practitioners to go barefoot while practicing. This may be the case in workplace tai chi classes, where employees simply kick off their dress shoes, or in a formal studio setting. In most cases, if you don't wish to go completely barefoot, you can wear socks or a thin, flexible shoe -- ballet or gymnastics slippers work well.
- Harvard Women's Health Watch: The Health Benefits of Tai Chi
- Nigg BM, Baltich J, Hoerzer S, Enders H. Running shoes and running injuries: Mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: 'Preferred movement path' and 'comfort filter'. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(20):1290-4. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095054
Sarah Barnes has been a professional writer and editor since 2004. She has been published in newspapers and regional magazines in the Wichita, Kansas area. Barnes holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from a Midwestern university.