Hyper mobility

One of our excellent Sports Massage Therapist- Luke Norland writes this about hypermobility:

“Hypermobility is a common problem affecting many of our patients here at C1, and not to be mistaken for good flexibility.  It may be fun, especially when you’re young and supple to be able to do the splits or Crab.  However, this can cause soft tissue problems later in life.  All the joints in the body can be taken to extreme limits.  Without adequate muscle tone to support that level of movement, strains are likely to occur.

 hypermobility-of-joints2

Regular soft tissue work, especially when stepping up training for an event such as the Bristol Half, will help eliminate many of the problems faced by this condition.  Through a structural massage approach, we aim to correct patterns of imbalance.  This is where a dominant muscle take over much of the work at a joint, leaving the weaker muscles to become lax and prone to straining. Correcting these patterns is a matter of careful trigger point technique.  This takes the muscles out of a state of over-contraction (or excess tone), as well as easing the pain experienced in the weaker muscles.

splits

Jargon busting!

Hypermobile = loose, flexible, laxity; requires strengthening to tone muscles; prone to tendon / joint injuries through excessive movement/ instability

Hypomobile = shortened, stiff, rigid; requires stretching to lengthen muscles; prone to muscle injuries from build of tension

The term hypermobility indicates that the body’s soft tissue tendency is towards flexibility, or looseness, as opposed to rigidity or firmness.

The ideal situation is where there is a dynamic interplay between the right amounts of ‘give’ and resistance.

For most people, this is a general trend and will most likely be experienced in all the joints of the body.  Perhaps focusing in the joints that are more employed by that person in their chosen area of activity.  So, a runner will often get knee or ankle problems whereas a climber will get wrist and elbow problems, and office workers will get back problems.

hypermobile back

Hypomobility would indicate that a person is inflexible.  As a result they’re less prone to injuries where the joints are taken to an excessive range.  They would be more prone to a gradual build of tension in the muscles as they become shortened, resulting in a state of high tonicity.

The right course of action for hypomobile people is to keep up the stretching.  This is particularly so after prolonged bouts of exercise where that tension will have built up in the shortened muscles.  Re-establishing the ideal resting length is the goal of stretching.

For the hypermobile patient, the opposite is true.  Too much stretching only exacerbates the problem of soft tissues that are already tending towards laxity or looseness. The right course of action here is to do some good core work or Pilates.  This strengthens and tones the muscles so that they can provide enough rigidity to counteract the innate flexibility.”

One thought on “Hyper mobility

  1. Luke, this is great. I’ve also fond that hyper mobile people struggle to stretch properly but that this is just how it is for them as they stretch the tendons either side of the muscle rather than the muscle body itself. My advice to them is accept that this is the case and go for pushing the muscle apart with deep tissue massage rather than pulling it apart by stretching.

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