Joanna Lowry-Corry
By: Joanna Lowry-Corry
Date: 07/08/2017

Are you too supple?

The words ‘supple’, ‘flexible’ or ‘bendy’ are synonymous in the health and fitness industry these days. If you happen to be one of the above, many believe this to be a good thing when it comes to exercise. Is it?

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 adults can be hyper mobile – also referred to as ‘double jointed’. Some adults are naturally very flexible, while others aim to improve their flexibility through yoga classes and stretching exercises. However, have you ever considered that there is such a thing as too supple?

Hypermobility means that you can move some or all of your joints in a way that most people cannot – without pain. Joint hypermobility is what some people refer to as having “loose joints” or being “double-jointed”. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers, although it affects pregnant women too. Most of those with hypermobility do not experience any problems. In fact, dancers, gymnasts and musicians, for instance, can actually benefit from their increased flexibility.

However, there are times that you should seek medical advice and treatment for hypermobility. People should seek treatment if they experience[1]:

-Continued pain in the loose joint during or after movement

-Sudden changes in the appearance of the joint

-Changes in mobility, specifically in the joints

-Changes in the functioning of your arms and legs

-Recurrent injuries

-Joints that can dislocate easily

In addition to genetic factors, hypermobility can be caused by weak muscles supporting the joint. Other causes of hypermobile joints can include trauma, developmental issues, and hormonal factors. However, extreme hypermobility could be a sign of more serious conditions, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (a range of conditions that affect connective tissues), Marfan syndrome (affects the body’s connective tissues) or Osteogenesis imperfecta (commonly known as “brittle bone disease”). Some forms of these condition can also cause joint hypermobility, along with a range of other problems.[2] During a spinal screening, a Chiropractor will always assess the health of the person, and refer to a GP or Consultant when necessary.

During pregnancy, the female body increases production of the hormone oestrogen and produces the hormone relaxin. The function of these hormones is to increase ligament laxity (looseness) enabling the female pelvis to accommodate the growing foetus and helps to open the birth canal during labour. It can also cause hypermobility of the lumbar spine and of the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis. 

How do I treat Hypermobility?

Treatment for hypermobility syndrome can include strengthening exercises that will stabilise the joint. It is also useful for people to develop an awareness of what the normal range of motion is for each joint in order to avoid hyperextension – something a musculoskeletal expert will do for you during a spinal screening. However, those with related medical conditions or who are pregnant should seek the advice of their Chiropractor to establish a safe exercise plan.

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Joint-hypermobility/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

[2] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Joint-hypermobility/Pages/Causes.aspx