Joint Hypermobility and exercising right
May 7, 2020
Joint Hypermobility and exercising right

What is hypermobility? 

Hypermobility is a technical term used to describe a person’s ability to move their own joints beyond what the expected normal range would be. Some people who are hypermobile will often be called double jointed and are able to move their joints in weird and wonderful ways. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, elbows, fingers and wrists.

 

Could you be experiencing joint hypermobility? 

Hypermobility is very common, being more common in females than males and seen not only throughout the general population but also even in high level athletes such as gymnasts and dancers. Because joint hypermobility refers to the laxity of connective tissue within joints, often these alterations can extend to all kind of connective tissue within the body, not just joints, having the ability to affect the function of multiple organs and structures that are composed of connective tissue.

 

Often hypermobility occurs with the presence of additional conditions;

  • Increased stiffness and tightness in muscles
  • Decreased bone density enhancing the risk of bone injury such as fracture
  • Digestive tract issues such as stomach cramps, acid reflux and food intolerances
  • Sensitive skin prone to conditions such as Eczema and Psoriasis
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches

 

Treatments, the do’s and the don’ts 

If left untreated, hypermobile joints can lead to degenerative changes such as arthritis. Too much movement also increases the risk of muscle strain as the muscles work in overtime to support the joints. Physiotherapy leads the way with treatment for this condition, allowing for proper musculoskeletal assessment and alteration of function.

 

People who experience hypermobility should focus on exercise that improves stability and strength. Every individual is different, but this generally means steering away from excessive stretching such as Yoga, and steering towards an exercise regimen to not only increase joint stability and strength, but also awareness, such as Clinical Pilates.

 

Physiotherapy guided Clinical Pilates targets hypermobility by;

  1. Including a range of exercises to increase strength and balance muscle tone
  2. Targeting muscles that stabilise joints such as the shoulders, pelvis and spine
  3. Increasing muscle strength to support to affected joints
  4. Normalised movement occurs as a result of better joint control and support
  5. Increasing breathing control and relaxation to target fatigue and anxiety
  6. Reducing symptoms and preventing aggravation and progression of the condition

 

If you suspect you may have, or have been diagnosed with hypermobility, finding the right place to get help can often be overwhelming. The team at Maxvale Physiotherapy are experienced practitioners in managing hypermobility and offer full assessments and individually tailored Clinical Pilates programs for patients of any age group. As physiotherapists, we work on a one-to-one basis, designing a program fit for you, for a stronger you.

 

Written by Bethany Logan, APAM Physiotherapist

Photo by Gustavo Fring

 

References:

Cameron, K. L., Duffey, M. L., DeBerardino, T. M., Stoneman, P. D., Jones, C. J., & Owens, B. D. (2010). Association of generalized joint hypermobility with a history of glenohumeral joint instability. Journal of athletic training, 45(3), 253-258.

Geweniger, V., & Bohlander, A. (2014). Therapeutic Pilates: Fundamental Principles. In Pilates− A Teachers’ Manual (pp. 203-210). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

 

McNeill, W. (2014). Pilates: Ranging beyond neutral. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 18(1), 119-123.

 

Pacey, V., Nicholson, L. L., Adams, R. D., Munn, J., & Munns, C. F. (2010). Generalized joint hypermobility and risk of lower limb joint injury during sport: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The American journal of sports medicine, 38(7), 1487-1497.

 

Scheper, M. C., de Vries, J. E., Juul-Kristensen, B., Nollet, F., & hh Engelbert, R. (2014). The functional consequences of generalized joint hypermobility: a cross-sectional study. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 15(1), 243.