Working with Clients That Have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
What is Joint Hypermobility Syndrome?
Have you ever heard of the term “loose joints”, or heard of someone who was “double jointed”? If so then you have seen joint hypermobility! Somebody with joint hypermobility has a lot more joint range-of-motion than the average person. These individuals appear to be super flexible, but in reality, they just have above average mobility.
What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?
Flexibility is defined as the momentary lengthening of a muscle, and mobility is the ability to freely move through a range of motion. For those with joint hypermobility, stretching will only make them worse, destroy their joints, and continue the pain. Instead of static stretching, these individuals need to focus on improving their stability within their range-of-motion by doing proper strength training.
What Makes Someone Hypermobile?
Individuals with joint hypermobility are not efficient at synthesizing collagen. Collagen deficiency is one of the major causes of joint hypermobility. Definition of collagen. For that reason, they end up with a lot of laxity in their joints, and this allows them to have a much higher joint range-of-motion. Laxity is the looseness or freedom of movement in a joint.
Effects of Joint Hypermobility
Although people with joint hypermobility may have advantages in sports such as swimming and gymnastics because of their superior range-of-motion, they are also more prone to injury. Over-extension of the joints can lead to ankle sprains, stress fractures, hernias, and osteoarthritis. Individuals with joint hypermobility also have too much blood collecting in their over-stretched veins, which causes extra adrenaline and is why most of these individuals have high energy, anxiety issues, and poor sleep quality.
Testing for Joint Hypermobility
The Beighton Hypermobility Test is a great way to examine someone for joint hypermobility. The screening consists of 5 tests on knee and elbow hyperextension. It involves flexing the thumb to the forearm, extending the pinky to a less than 90 degree angle with the hand, and placing your palms on the floor without bending the knees. You can read more about the Beighton Hypermobility Test at this resource.
How to Train if you are Hypermobile?
If you are training a hypermobile client, performing exercises just short of their end-range-of-motion is the only safe way to properly exercise. If they hyperextend their elbows, knees, or any other joints, this will cause them damage and be very painful. For example, while performing a push-up we do not want the hypermobile client to push up and extend their arms all the way to where they hyperextend their elbow. This is not good! You can completely damage their joints by allowing them to do this. Instead, you should focus on having them stopping short of their end-range of motion to stay safe and pain free while performing exercises with proper form.