Are you too flexible?

When it comes to flexibility, most of us complain of inflexibility, or in other words, stiffness and tightness. However there are people who are born too flexible - like the yogis or acrobats that can bend their body in unbelievable ways. Medically, it is called hypermobility. It exists in 10-30% of the adult population. Of course not everyone with hypermobility can bend like acrobats. The presentation varies. Some are more flexible in the spine, allowing them to bend forward and touch the floor with ease. Some are more flexible in the fingers, knees, or elbows, which can straighten more than straight.

Hypermobility and pain

We usually think of flexibility as a good thing, but too much flexibility can lead to pain as well. That is because when the joints have extra range to move, it requires extra effort to control them as well. Thus it is more tiring to maintain a good posture. The muscles can get fatigued easily trying to maintain a proper posture, and afterwards just give in and let the joints hang in the end range of movement, leading to extra stress on the joints. In the long run, both the muscles and joints can become source of pain.

Hypermobility and exercise

People with hypermobility usually like to do exercises that require good flexibility, like yoga and ballet, because that is what they are good at. But what they need more is actually strengthening exercises, like Pilates. Strong muscles help the body to cope with hypermobility and protect the individual from pain. Strengthening, for sure, will feel more difficult and tiring than yoga. But we cannot always stay in our comfort zone, right?