You may have heard your Pilates instructor call you ‘hyper-mobile’ and you may have been advised to perform an exercise with slight modification. So, what exactly is hyper-mobility, what are the negatives, and how can it be helped?
‘Hyper-mobility is a condition in which a person has an excessive range of movement that goes beyond what would be considered normal; in everyday language, hyper-mobile people are often described as ‘double jointed’.’ This can lead to movement impairments and muscle imbalances that stress joints, muscles and soft tissues; you are more injury prone due to lack of stability in the joints.
How can I tell if I am hyper-mobile? You might have hyperextended knees or elbows (bent backwards), extreme hip rotation, extreme plantar flexion of the feet, winged shoulder blades, hyperflexible lumbar (lower) spine, and you probably brace when engaging the abdominals and find it hard to maintain a fixed pelvis due to lack of pelvic-floor control… Even though we might take ‘super flexible’ as a compliment, hyper-mobility is not always such a fantastic thing; ‘it can be a root cause of chronic pain and postural issues.’ To make matters more complicated, some hyper-mobile people may not seem as particularly flexible and may even complain of stiffness and tightness, these people are more vulnerable to physical injury/issues. This is because their muscles have to work overtime to stabilize and support the joints, not in an efficient way.’ The key is to release the muscles that are gripping, and tap in to the other muscles for strength and support.
Fact: The condition is far more common in females than males and tends to diminish with age.
– Keep stretching to the minimum. It might feel good to stretch but we need to focus on continuously finding that sense of connection and internal support.
– Using the Pilates equipment to help stabilise in areas. Your range is restricted here.
– Breathe better. Hyper-mobile clients may generally have challenges with pelvic stabilization and deep core support. Both issues are greatly assisted by better breathing and will also help the abdominals and pelvic floor to work together better.
– Stay positive. As I am hyper-mobile myself, I can understand Pilates can be frustrating sometimes as it is difficult to maintain stability and often left feeling I can’t do anything right. It definitely helps to use exercises where you really feel the connections and find feedback!
– Be aware of your improvements. Assessing your posture and balance throughout your training might encourage you that your proximal training is really developing the stability internally.
– Remember the body needs to be equally flexible than it is strong, so don’t get put off by keeping your range minimal to start with.