Therapy Thursday: Controlling your hypermobility
As I grow older in my profession, I see it more and more. Something I used to miss and have made a point not to miss anymore. Something that I routinely see other clinicians miss and mistreat.
Hypermobility is a big issue among younger athletes, both male and female. Hypermobility can be described as a congenital laxity within the joint capsules. This a long way of saying that your joints are more mobile than what is considered normal. There are medical conditions that are associated with hypermobility such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes, however there are many more people who just have a little more inherent laxity.
This post can refer back to my last several that had to do with hamstring tightness because a LOT of people who have hypermobility feel tight all of the time. They are constantly stretching. Someone who has “too much” motion consistently stretching isn’t what I call “the right thing to do.” I use quotes around “too much” because I’m not so sure that the amount of motion is all that concerning to me. It is more the lack of control over the motion that they do possess.
This brings me to the point of my post today. How do you know if you’re hypermobile and what do you do about it if you are? There is a 9 test scale known as the Beighton Scale. Any score greater than 4 means that you have some greater amount of joint laxity.
So here is the 9 test: 4 tests are bilateral and then standing toe touch. If you have a score of 5 or greater, have you had a life long history of random aches and pains that don’t seem to bother other people? If so, your joint laxity may be causing you some issues that can be taken care of through your regular training regimen.
If you answered yes to random pains, and have a 5+ score on the Beighton, it is extremely important for you to train wisely. We want to be able to control your motion, not lock out in order to create stability, and potentially change your exercise selection.
How might we change your exercise selection?
Back pain: Are you in hyperextension all of the time? are you able to use your abdominals to control lumbar extension? Deadlifts may not be the most appropriate lift for you. At least not until you learn how to control your body position.
Shoulder pain: By taking the weights out of your hands and using a front rack or barbell on your back, we can decrease the amount of distraction in your shoulders while we teach you the art of stabilizing your shoulder joints.
Knee pain: Do you stand with your knees hyperextended all of the time? Tight calves and hip flexors? Teaching you the basics of standing exercises and avoiding poor positioning faults will clear up your pains.
The big take home here, is if you have a history of random injury, aches, and pains and haven’t had much success in warding any of it off perhaps you have a little extra mobility in your joints. I’d urge you to stop stretching and start focusing on improving your postures and strength based exercises. Once you have it figured out, you can learn to control it for the rest of your life.