Hypermobility – Being Too Flexible is a Pain!

Hypermobility – Being Too Flexible is a Pain!

People with hypermobility, or hypermobility syndrome (HMS) have too much movement in their joints.

Connective tissue proteins such as collagen give the body its intrinsic toughness.  When they are differently formed the results are mainly felt in the “moving parts” – joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments which are laxer and more fragile than is the case for most people. The result of this is joint laxity with hypermobility and with that comes vulnerability to the effects of injury.

You may have heard someone described as “double jointed” – they can do all sorts of weird things with their bodies – this is hypermobility. But it’s not just an anatomical party trick, it causes real problems for sufferers who often find that their condition is ignored or mis-diagnosed as some form of arthritis.

Exercise  is the last thing on the mind of the patient, who is most definitely in pain, and for whom the wrong type of exercise will exacerbate their condition. Just as commonly, sufferers are told to rest and take it easy – a sure way to make the situation worse.

I have been diagnosed with Hypermobility – Should I Exercise?

YES! It is extremely important to keep fit and prevent injury (remember you are more vulnerable).  Regular exercise can reduce the symptoms because strong muscles help to stabilise joints.

What sort of exercise should I do?

Low impact exercise such as Pilates or Tai Chi as well as some Resistance work

  • Always ensure you are using your joints within ideal ranges of motion avoiding hyperextension and hyperflexion
  • Seek the advice of a fully qualified sports Physiotherapist, Pilates or Fitness Instructor who is familiar with hypermobility and can prescribe an appropriate program of exercise

Many of my participants are hypermobile and have gained great benefit from their practice of the Pilates Method with Pilates4Life.

Am I Hypermobile?

- Show Beighton Test
Beighton Criteria Check

The Beighton Criteria is a system used to identify hypermobility syndrome.

Score 1 point for each of the following movements you can complete easily. (Check left and right side separately and score 1 point for each.)

  • Bending thumb back to touch forearm on each side
  • Bending little finger back past 90 degrees
  • When the arm is outstretched elbows bend backwards
  • When the leg is straightened knees bend backwards
  • Bending forwards and being able to touch the floor with flat hands without bending your knees

Points scored out of 9 – what do you score? If you score more than 4, you are probably Hypermobile

Further Reading

  • If you would like to find out more about Hypermobility Syndrome:
  • Read the Wikipedia entry on Hypermobility
  • Visit the HyperMobility Syndrome Association’s website
  • Read Isobel Knight’s excellent book on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility. You can also read our review in the Reading Room

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