Best 5 Exercises for Hypermobility
Hypermobility or generalised joint hypermobility is associated with the increased movement across multiple joints and can be symptomatic in presentation. It is a condition that is mostly underdiagnosed and is more prevalent in children and teenagers. It is a common condition affecting up to 20% of the population.
No two presentations of hypermobility are the same, due to this it has been challenging for research to pinpoint a specific cause. Mostly, it has been linked to genetic and some sources say environmental factors, although this seems less likely. The role of some genes has been associated with hypermobility, but this is still unclear. It affects the collagen that makes up the ligaments and tendons making them more pliable and often weaker. Conditions such as Ehlers Danlos syndrome are strongly associated with genetic variability.
There is also another common cause of hypermobility, and that is taking your joint past its normal physiological end of range. For example, if you learn how to bend your thumb at a strange angle, you’ll gradually stretch the joint capsule and ligaments around it, and this will make your thumb hypermobile.
Manipulation. Repeated clicking or cracking of your joints through putting your joint in an unusual position is known as manipulation. You might be familiar with clicking your finger at the knuckle. This is manipulating the joint. The audible click often feels quite good, but don’t be fooled. The more you do it, the more it becomes a habit, and in time, this can create joint hypermobility where you are manipulating the joint. Don’t over-crack!
Diet may be an important factor too. In my Health and Lifestyle training with Paul Chek, he described going to a battery chicken farm, and pulling the leg of a dead chicken. When he did the same thing on an organic chicken farm, the leg was much tougher to pull off. This, he said, was due to poor diet and lack of space to exercise enforced on battery chickens. It makes sense too, look at footballers. Many football clubs will have chefs and nutrition plays a big part of the diet. Good nutrition is likely to lead to improved tissue quality, and stronger ligaments.
The majority of people with hypermobility do not experience any symptoms, however very few will have an increased risk of dislocations and sprains, fatigue, headaches and difficulty sleeping.
Some other symptoms include:
- Pain in the muscles and joints
- Crepitus/ noisy joints
- Digestive problems e.g., constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
- Stretchy skin
- Dizziness and feeling faint
If you suspect that you have hypermobility, it is important to see Surrey Physio for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Surrey Physio’s team will work with you to create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific needs. We may recommend exercises to improve your strength and stability, as well as techniques to reduce pain and inflammation.
There are several other treatments that may be helpful for people with hypermobility. These include:
- Lifestyle modifications: Simple lifestyle changes, like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding high-impact activities, can help reduce pain and improve joint function.
- Stop cracking/manipulating your own joints.
It is important to remember that hypermobility is a lifelong condition in some cases of genetic predisposition. If it’s caused by self-manipulation, then it can be halted and, in many cases, reversed. With the right treatment, people with hypermobility can manage their symptoms and maintain a good quality of life. In the meantime, please try our top 5 exercises to improve stability and strength:
Lie on your side and form a bridge between your feet and forearms (by lifting your pelvis). This exercise works the abdominal and oblique muscles. Hold this position for 30 seconds, twice each side.
Rest on your forearms and your toes. Hold this position. Keep good straight posture, and do not let your back arch too much. This is a core strengthening exercise. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.
Full squat with overhead press
Open your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and bend your knees to the full squat (90 degrees) position as you lift a medicine ball above your head. Make sure you keep the middle of your knee-cap in line with the middle toes of your foot. Always keep your feet flat on the ground, do not let your heels raise from the floor. Repeat 10 reps, three times.
Horse stance horizontal
Go on to all fours, and keep good posture. Draw your tummy inwards (towards the ceiling). Straighten your arm in front of you, and your opposite leg behind you. Repeat each side. This is a great core stability and core control exercise to work the deep abdominal muscles. The exercise will also strengthen the lumbar erector and gluteal muscles. Hold this position for 15 seconds, twice each side.
Lie flat on your back. Raise your arms to 90 degrees in front of you, so your hands are pointing towards the ceiling. Bend your knees and hips to 90 degrees. Engage your deep abdominal muscles and maintain a neutral spine. In a controlled movement, lower one arm to the floor above your head, while you lower the opposite leg to the floor in a straight position. Do not let your lower back arch too much, try to flatten your spine gently towards the floor. Return to the start position. Repeat to the opposite side. This exercise is a core strengthening and co-ordination exercise. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.
Hypermobility is a common condition that affects many people. Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, and it can be caused by genetics or certain medical conditions. If you suspect that you have hypermobility, it is important to see us in clinic for an accurate diagnosis. Treatment options include physiotherapy, medication, braces and supports, and lifestyle modifications. Surrey Physio Team can work with you to create a personalised treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. With the right treatment, people with hypermobility can manage their symptoms and lead a healthy, active life.
(Therapists, osteopaths, sports therapists, chiropractors reading this page… if you love the exercises here, then please check out the amazing exercise prescription tool www.rehabmypatient.com. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial, and it’s affordable to buy, with pricing starting from £11.23 per month.
If you are a patient suffering with hypermobility syndrome or pain from hypermobility, please book with one of our physios or osteopaths. If you are not sure, call us to find out who the best person to see would be. Surrey Physio have an amazing team of therapists to help you recover from pain, but also to achieve top performance. Call us on 0208 685 6930 or click the link at the top to book online.)