Living with joint hypermobility can be challenging, particularly when it comes to preventing injuries. Hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder that can lead to increased susceptibility to dislocations, sprains, and chronic pain. Whether you have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD), or another condition that causes hypermobility, it’s important to learn strategies that help safeguard your joints.

What Is Joint Hypermobility?

Joint hypermobility occurs when the tissues holding the joints together—mainly ligaments—are too loose. This can be due to genetic factors affecting collagen, a primary protein in connective tissues. People with hypermobility often experience symptoms such as joint pain, frequent sprains, dislocations, and an increased risk of degenerative arthritis. You may refer to my Blog. “What are the signs of Hypermobility‘ to see if you are hypermobile.

Why Is Strengthening Exercises Important?

One of the most effective ways to prevent joint injuries in hypermobility is through strengthening exercises. Strengthening the muscles around hypermobile joints helps stabilize them, reducing the risk of injury. The number one mistake I see with exercises is when the given joint is isolated to be strengthened or stretched!!

Focus On Core Strength

baby doing a plank exercise

A strong core provides better support for the entire body, helping to stabilize the spine and reduce strain on other joints but where is your core? Is it where we get a six-pack?

Your core is your trunk!!! Not just the front of the body and not just between the abdominal diaphragm to the pubic area! Your 4th layer of abdominals (yes you have 4 layers of those) goes above the zyhoid process seen in the diagram below and in green.

diagram of the chest bone

Low-Impact Activities

The best low-impact exercises are Developmental Exercises which are what we all did as babies! None of us lifted any weights and still got to become running toddlers when we started as helpless infants. Developmental Kinesiology exercises such as Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization are the exercises I use in the clinic to bring stability and strength back into the profile of my patients with hypermobility. Walking Swimming, and cycling are great choices once you understand the principles of movement and stability.

Resistance Training

The best method to bring in resistance training into your day is holding a form against gravity. This is a low-impact exercise opportunity that still allows you to build strength. Once again, the best and safest way to do this is by applying the principles of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization or DNS. Our brain already knows them, we are hard-wired to know them and it has worked for all human babies ever since humans came to Earth!

Once you learn and are able to apply the principles of movement from DNS, you can do weight lifting safely and worry-free.

Isometric Exercises

Once again, as long as you understand and can apply the principles of movement to your daily moves, wall sits and static lunges would be great exercises to ‘show off’ your trunk stability and lower extremity performance beautifully.

Balance And ProprioceptionCartoon with blue striped lines in the background of a person sitting on the floor Indian style

Proprioception relies heavily on many factors one of which is the tension in the tendons and ligaments. With joint hypermobility, this is not happening as well but there are other ways to work on proprioception.

Your sense of touch is quite strong and a great tool to use when needing to connect to a joint you are working on. I, for instance, instruct my patients to touch their hip joints where their legs get connected to their pelvis when practicing functional sitting to standing.

I also utilize Postural Neurology when assessing my patients to see what. exercises they should be doing that positively influence their brain for better balancing.

Pilates is a much better fit for you if you are hypermobile vs Yoga. I am a big Yoga fan as long as, once again, you follow the principles of movement. These principles are for everyone, hypermobile, pelvic floor dysfunction, and every single human being that walks.

Why Are Proper Posture And Ergonomics Important?

Proper posture and ergonomics are critical in preventing joint injuries, especially for individuals with hypermobility. Maintaining good posture reduces unnecessary strain on your joints and muscles.

Posture Tips

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your shoulders back, and distribute your weight evenly. The hips line up with the outside bump of your ankles while you line up your neck with the perineum (the area between your anus and external genitalia). With shoulder blades nicely on the rib cage, glide the neck back and hold the pose. Watch the video above to see how I do it.

Ergonomic Adjustments

Unfortunately, with how much sitting we do, we damage ourselves hypermobile or not. I strongly advise you to check this instruction that I give to all of my patients.

Are Braces And Supports Good For Hypermobility?

Braces and supports can provide additional stability for hypermobile joints, especially during activities that place them at risk. These tools can help prevent overextension and reduce pain.

Knee And Ankle Bracesknee with a brace

These can help stabilize the joints during physical activities. Choose braces that offer compression and support without restricting your movement too much.

Wrist And Elbow Supports

These are useful for activities that involve repetitive motions, such as typing or lifting.

Orthotics

Hard Custom-made shoe inserts can provide better arch support and reduce stress on the knees and lower back. I still recommend my patients to work on their foot strengthening by doing what I show in this video:

Tapes

I am a huge fan of taping for better cueing! Tapes provide sensory input to the brain and help with proprioception and stability. I show my patients how to tape their joints that have the least stability and most subluxations.

If you are not following me on instagram, you may want to do so and also subscribe to my Hypermobility Youtube Channel for some of what I share with my patients.

Is Stretching Okay For Hypermobility?

While flexibility is generally a good thing, for those with hypermobility, overstretching can lead to joint injuries. It’s essential to be mindful of how you stretch and to avoid pushing your joints beyond their natural range.

Controlled Stretching

Focus on gentle, controlled stretches rather than aggressive flexibility exercises. Stretch only the muscles that feel tight or crampy, and avoid holding stretches for prolonged periods. Once again, principles of movement and the DNS concepts are helpful in performing this correctly.

What Does Balanced Exercise Routine Look Like?

A balanced exercise routine that includes cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, and balance training is ideal for managing hypermobility. Remember that you should gauge your energy level each day and listen to your body and not think of slowing down or pausing your activity level as quitting or giving up!

  • Cardiovascular Exercise

Do the developmental exercises fast. Then perform walking swimming or cycling but be mindful of your form.

  • Flexibility
  • Strength Training
  • Balance Training

If you are hypermobile and would like to learn about how to prevent injuries by learning the principles of movement, learn what your wrong tendencies are, and what to replace them with, contact me. I offer coaching telehealth sessions for those outside California and other countries.

Dr. Shakib

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