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Training for Ehlers-Danlos and Hypermobility

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Hypermobility is a general term for any stretching of the joints beyond 'normal'. Many people with hypermobile joints go through their lives with no issues, but others experience pain and other symptoms related to their hypermobility. Hypermobility is a feature of connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder.

If your connective tissues are more elastic (ligaments, tendons, and other connective collagen) you will be likely to experience joint pain, subluxations, dislocations, muscle weakness, fatigue, and exhaustion at various levels.

Training for Ehlers-Danlos and Hypermobility can be a struggle as people find themselves in pain, in and out of hospital, and generally discover that the normal advice for training doesn't fit them. On top of that people are often told not to stretch, lift weights, run or any other list of advice from people who have never experienced, lived with or treated hypermobility.

I have over a decade of experience in helping overcome the obstacles that conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos present and I'm here to tell you that no matter your level of hypermobility, you can always make gains that will improve your physical fitness and overall health.

If you aren't used to exercising, and/or you're hypermobile, even the most basic of training programs can seem daunting and cause more aches, pains, and problems than they solve. Why? With hypermobility comes a decrease in proprioception. The sense of where you think your body is, in relation to where it actually is. Most people with reduced 'kinesthesia' struggle with stability, especially with exercise, and therefore, on top of connective tissue reasons, are more likely to injure themselves with strains, sprains, subluxations, and those random injuries that appear out of nowhere!

Control. Control, control, control!

The majority of exercise plans, training routines, (even personalised ones), will have you moving through fixed movements and sequences, designed to strengthen and build mobility in set ways that don't necessarily fit the way your body is or the way you currently control your body.

You have to learn how to move your body in a way that will work for you, and learn how to control your body so you can go on to exercise in a safe and healthy way.

Learning how to control your body is a relatively simple process, but, unfortunately for many, can be a long and time-consuming process. What you need to remind yourself when starting down the road of taking back control of your body, is that you've lived with it for this long, why live it with it any longer than you have to? Improvements will be incremental. You might not notice a difference from day to day, but, with persistence, you will notice improvements month to month and that's what counts. There will be setbacks and disappointments, and sometimes you'll have to go back to the drawing board, but that can be true of all people who exercise.

Where to start?

Joints. These buggers are the ones that decide where your arms, legs, and everything goes, so we start by training them how to move, and in that training, we improve our kinesthesia and thus mind-body coordination. It will also improve joint stability and strength while teaching us both consciously and subconsciously what the limitations of those joints are decreasing the likelihood of injury.

We begin with circles. Pick a joint you're more comfortable with moving, such as a wrist. Start making small, slow, controlled circles. Gradually, increase the size of the rotation (not the speed!), and reverse direction every now and again. Does it move in circles in any other plane? For example, the shoulder can move in circles forwards and backward, but also inwards and outwards from the spine!

Get used to these movements, and as you gain confidence, employ other weaker joints into the routine. Soon you'll have built an entire routine of exercise that exercises your joints into your day!

If you want to learn more about stability training for hypermobility and EDS please feel free to book a Posture and Stability training session or contact me for more information.


James Morris

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