Can too much stretching be bad for you? Learn the dangers of Hypermobility and prevent painful injuries with these helpful tips.
Some people are bendy and some people are stiff. Being bendy can be a major concern (especially for women) and often hypermobile people aren’t aware of their own mobility. I want to provide some information about how you can both identify if you’re hypermobile (AKA bendy), and provide some suggestions for developing greater stability for less pain and greater results.
Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health or diagnoses, please consult a doctor or medical professional.
People with hypermobility are advised to build strength to the muscles and avoid stretching as this can cause long-term damage to the joints.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in fitness is assuming everyone should train exactly the same way. Obviously, this line of thinking is incorrect for a variety of reasons, but perhaps none stands out as more important to appreciate as joint hypermobility.
Hypermobility, exercise and injury prevention
The crazy thing is, many people who are bendy (aka Hypermobile) don’t even KNOW that they are! So they get random injuries and experience pain without ever knowing how to properly train their bodies.
Being a hypermobile person myself, I’ve gotten a lot of random injuries from being TOO bendy (high hamstring tendonitis was the WORST one!). I wish I had known MORE about Hypermobility when I was younger. But I’ve learned a LOT over the years on how to control my hypermobility and train smarter. Most importantly, I have to constantly remind myself NOT to keep stretching an already excessive loose joint and NOT to go to full end range of motion in exercise. In other words, training with hypermobility is more about what you don’t do than what you do actually do.
SMART training as a Hypermobile person equals building body awareness and strong muscles. Confused still? You are not alone. Join the millions of people who don’t know anything about mobility and still subscribe to the belief that stretching needs to be done daily for optimal health. But then again, people still believe in 80’s aerobics and hours of cardio…. and look where thats getting them = out of shape, injured, and a whole bunch of nowhere. Sounds frustrating? It is. That’s why I want to shine a little bit of light for you and give you some resources to help you understand further.
Are you Hypermobile?
You see, some individuals have more congenital laxity than others. This essentially means their ligaments (which connect bone to bone) have a bit more give to them. As a result, they can have substantially more flexibility because of the lack of passive stiffness. The active restraints — muscles and tendons — have to work harder to create stability at the hypermobile joints.
Unfortunately, we’re naturally drawn to doing what we’re good at doing, and that’s why you see a lot of really bendy, loose-jointed folks at yoga and Pilates classes when a well-designed strength training program (to create good stiffness) probably would offer quicker benefits. That’s not to say that yoga and Pilates aren’t amazing; I’m just saying that these initiatives ought to be biased toward drills that promote building stability within the joint range of motion that’s already present (as opposed to trying to become even more flexible).
Excessive laxity (bendy-ness) creates instability and this makes joints vulnerable not only to injury but increased wear and tear. Hypermobility predisposes individuals up to a host of not so fun musculoskeletal issues, ranging from ankle sprains to shoulder subluxations to stress fractures to hernias to early osteoarthritis.
I know this concept may feel difficult to grasp (it was for me too!). But if you are even slightly hypermobile somewhere in your body, learning to understand how to train your unique body and create STABILITY will benefit you in so many ways.
Of course, it’s important to actually be able to identify if you’re hypermobile. How do you know if you are?
Top signs of Hypermobility:
- Increased Flexibility – ‘double-jointedness
- Skin – extra soft, silky-smooth skin that is very thin, easily bruises and is slow to heal
- Frequent Injury – accident prone and clumsy, due to decreased proprioception (the body’s sense of its own movement through 3D space)
- Anesthesia Problems – anesthetics (such as novicaine and lignocaine) take longer to take affect and ware off faster than normal
- Joint Pain – frequent joint pain which does not respond to typical treatments such as ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medication, can be brought about suddenly without any direct injury or trauma and lasts longer than normal muscle inflammation
Many trainers mistakenly assume all individuals are incredibly tight and need to stretch until the cows come home. This is NOT a good training plan for a hypermobile person! Stretch them and they get worse. Build stability and they will thrive. The proof is in the pudding – Hypermobile folks will experience LESS pain through strength (speaking from experience here!). Individuals with hypermobility can reduce their risk of developing injury and train effectively by doing the following…
Training Plan for the hypermobile to prevent injury and improve performance
- Improve muscle tone. Exercise that helps build muscle tone will assist in reducing the demands on hypermobile joints. Muscles help generate, decelerate and dissipate force from movement sparing the ligaments. Good muscle tone can also create some stability around joints.
- Movement Education. Any movement regardless of its nature, be it flexibility, strength or conditioning work should be performed accurately with control and awareness. Focusing on correct engagement of the muscles and initiating good movement patterns will help protect vulnerable joints.
If you are hypermobile, building STRENGTH and teaching yourself HOW to use the RIGHT muscles with proper movement patterns will allow you to achieve your goals quicker and with fewer injuries.
This is the reason I created my Strong Body Program – to help you prevent injury through following a well thought out PLAN of safe fitness programming. I teach you HOW to execute proper form in exercises (feel things where you should!) and HOW to balance your love of cardio (and yoga!) with strength for optimal results. This allows you to build BALANCE in your body that can keep you pain free for life.
Core Stability/Breathing /Lumbar Spine
- Glute Marches w/ shoulders on a bench on on the floor (only do these if you have a proper glute bridge down already)
- 90/90 Hip Lifts
- Glute bridges, or Hip Thrusts and/or single leg variations
- Wall RDL’s
- Bowler Squats
- Single leg RDLs
- Deadhang Lat Shrugs
- Yoga Pushups
- Wall Slides
- Scap Pushups
- Quadruped Triple Extension
- Prone Lower Trap Raises
The Strong Body program is also a great course to follow if you are coming BACK from an injury and want to ease your way SAFELY into active living. Many of my Hurt Foot students have used Strong Body to transition smoothly back into 100%. The best part is the 6 weeks of scheduling can be taken at your own pace – you get to customize HOW you use the course in a way that works for you. This allows you to use and re-use the program on your schedule for lasting results in your healthy lifestyle. It’s a one time investment that pays you back time and time again.
If you are a Hypermobile person I know exactly how you feel. Strength training will be HARD for you. But it is also worth it. SO WORTH IT. And it can change your life.
If you are ready to get strong, prevent injury, and see REAL results with your body, the Strong Body program is for you.
As a special for all you MOBILE people out there, I am offering a exclusive one-time discount on the course enrollment. Use the code, “GETSTRONG” here for 15% off. I want so badly to help you prevent pain from cramping your active lifestyle. I believe you can do this. And I want to be your coach.
For more reading on Hypermobility and stretching injuries, check out these helpful articles:
- Get rid of High Hamstring Tendonitis pain
- How I got my butt back, the surprising injury that taught me how to move again.
- Are you gumby?! Hypermobility and whats bad about too much flexibility.
- Growing up with hypermobility.
- Is Too Much Stretching Bad for You? Yoga Tune Up Takes You From Floppy to Fit. So incredibly grateful for Jill Miller and her powerful work.
- When Flexibility becomes a liability
- How To Avoid Hip Injuries From Yoga. Great modifications for all your favorite postures if you like to “sink into” your asanas.
- Yoga Poses That Can Hurt You.
- Expert Advice: How to Prevent Yoga Injuries with Strength Training
- Mobility WOD. Fantastic resource written by Doctor of Physical Therapy and CrossFit coach Kelly Starrett.
I hope this gave you a better idea of the dangers of too much flexibility/ hypermobility and helped you determine whether it’s an issue for you. This is a starting point for how to fix it and get back to the important stuff – like living a pain free, active life. Im here to help you be smart, move well, and live a strong life. Be sure to use the code, “GETSTRONG” here for 15% off and start getting a STRONG BODY now. May you continue to listen to your body and invest in giving yourself what you need to feel your very best. Here’s to keeping your body healthy and pain free for life!
Other Things To Check Out:
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- How to take rest days without feeling guilty about it. Do you need a rest day?
- Is the Vegan Diet right for you? Click here to find out now.
- How to start and maintain a consistent exercise routine.
- Why your fitness routine isnt working.