Written by Debby Mar 10 2014

Some of the greatest sports men and women in the world are hyper-mobile. How did he bend that ball? How did she reach that shot?

Being hypermobile means that you can move your joints more than most people can. Its often referred to as double jointed or as hyperlaxity. There are some advantages to having hypermobile joints. For example, they can help in certain sports such as gymnastics or swimming and athletic coaches will often aim to increase flexibility, as well as strength and endurance. Dancers also need a wide range of movement in their joints and hypermobile fingers can help musicians, particularly keyboard and string players.

There are several causes for hypermobility; the shape of the bones, for example shallow shoulder or hip socket; weak or stretched ligaments; muscle tone. About 75% of people inherit hypermobility from a parent and there is often a family history of it.

Symptoms include:

  • Muscle strain or pain. This is the most common problem with having hypermobile joints. The muscles have to work harder if the joint is very supple and this can lead to muscle strain.
  • Joint stiffness. Sometimes the joint feels tense or stiff which may be caused by fluid collecting inside the joint. This happens as the body tries to repair the damage caused if a muscle is over stretched.
  • Foot pain. You may have a flat arch to your foot which can lead to foot pain and you may have an overall unstable foot which may cause ligament strains.
  • Backache. This can be due to the vertebra in your spine being too supple and can lead to one of the bones slipping on another. This is known as spondylolisthesis.
  • Injured joints. Hypermobile joints are more likely to become injured if they are over stretched.

How is hypermobility diagnoses?

Diagnosis is based on an examination and a scoring system known as the Beighton Score which measures flexibility using a standard set of movements. At The Luxton Clinic, our osteopaths and podiatrist are trained to use this system.

Regular exercise and fitness

Regular exercise is important as part of a healthy lifestyle and if you are hypermobile strong muscles will help protect the joints they surround. This will provide more stability and reduce joint wear and tear. It is important not to over stretch but to strengthen. Prioritize strengthening the muscles surrounding the most susceptible joints: your shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. Also focus on strengthening your core muscles in the lower back, abdomen, pelvis and hips, because they protect your spine.

At The Luxton Clinic we frequently treat the consequences of hypermobility whether it is correcting foot function or realigning the spine and balancing the pelvis. Correct footwear and appropriate exercise is very important for the hypermobile person and it is important that you receive good advice and treatment if required.

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