What is hypermobility? Is it really possible to be too flexible? Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints and the elasticity of your muscles and connective tissues. Muscles and connective tissues are malleable and can lengthen and become more flexible when you stretch regularly. Hypermobility is when joints easily move beyond the normal range expected for that particular joint and is usually inherited. Hypermobility can cause pain in the knees, fingers, hips, and elbows. Hypermobile joints can put you at a long-term risk of arthritic changes due to wear and tear on the cartilage. If you’re hyperextended, it’s important to strength train to build up the muscles surrounding your joints, in order to stabilize them.
People with tight muscles may laugh at the idea of being too flexible, but it is no laughing matter for those that suffer from hypermobility. When joints and muscles freely extend beyond a normal range, you are at more risk for injury and problems with the joints for various activities.
While muscles and ligaments are tasked with keep a joint stable, if tissues are too flexible their ability to provide the necessary flexibility the joint requires is put in jeopardy. Loose muscles and ligaments permit more wear and tear on the joints than is safe. Hypermobility can lead to osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- Can you now (or could you ever) place your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees?
- Can you now (or could you ever) bend your thumb to touch your forearm?
- As a child did you amuse your friends by contorting your body into strange shapes or could you do the splits?
- As a child or teenager did your shoulder or kneecap dislocate on more than one occasion?
- Do you consider yourself double-jointed?
If you answered yes to one or more than one above, you may be hypermobile and should seek out a professional consultation and examination.
What Causes Hypermobility?
Hypermobile joints are typically inherited from parent to child. Children. Studies show that genes contribute to the development of hypermobile joints. Thus, it is common for the trait to run in families (familial). Genes that are linked with the production of collagen, a vital protein for “glueing” tissues together, are said to play a role.
What to Do and Not Do with Hypermobility
While it may be hard to restrain yourself, avoid stretching hyperflexible muscles. What you need to focus your efforts on are isometric and concentric strengthening exercises. Isometric exercises don’t cause the joint to move even though the muscles that surround the joint are working. Isometric exercises promote joint stability while protecting it and allowing the muscles to grow stronger–adding extra protection. Concentric exercises will help with muscle shortening to help reverse your hypermobility.
Focus on strengthening the muscles that support the most vulnerable joints like those of your shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. Strengthening your core muscles in your lower back, abdomen, pelvis and hips, will safeguard your spine.
When you focus on strengthening your core and joint muscles, you stabilize your entire body helping to reduce the load your joints carry and help thwart injury.
Our Spine Correction Center team can recommend exercises that are appropriate for your hypermobility after an in-office evaluation and consultation.
Call for a Hypermobility Evaluation and Physical Therapy Consultation
Find out if your flexibility needs improvement, or if you need to lay off the stretching! Our experienced staff can identify areas that may require more attention. To make an appointment, or to learn more about our state of the art facility and team, contact us at (970) 658-5115. Our patient concierge will help you schedule your initial appointment or consultation.