We, as yogis, have this awe and fascination with flexibility, stretching, and people who can touch their toes to their head while vacuuming, or something, right? I mean, who hasn’t scrolled through an Instagram page littered with stunning yogis doing incredible things? It’s addicting and it can also really hurt our self-confidence. You start to think “can I do that? Is that even real?”
Well, I’m here to tell you, being flexible is not all it’s cracked up to be. I was recently officially “diagnosed” (seems drastic right?) with hypermobility.
Hypermobility is basically, extra elasticity in your joints. This means your range of motion can be greater than the average person. And looking back, it’s probably something I should have taken more seriously, earlier in life. But hey, being able to origami yourself around is a cool trick, so I wasn’t too concerned for a long time. Now, I’m dealing with the consequences and hope this opens your eyes about flexibility.
There are (what seems like) constant injuries
I can’t stress this enough. When you are hypermobile you feel like the living, breathing embodiment of Gumby. For me, I struggle with shoulder issues, ankles and sometimes wrist pain, and I’m always worried about messing myself up again. I have literally pulled my shoulder out of the socket by high-fiving someone. Talk about some serious daily frustrations. People with hypermobility have to be hyper aware of their bodies. Since one small movement can cause another injury, it puts advanced postures and daily chores on the list of “please be careful”.
Flexibility doesn’t always equal strength
Don’t let those, albeit talented, Instagram yogi’s scare you. They may be able to contort themselves into some insanely impressive shapes, but that doesn’t mean that their overall practice or physical health is at its peak. A lot of times, they are relying solely on their stretchy ligaments to keep them up. And sometimes you’ll find that those bendy people can’t do some of the more strength-based, and most common poses.
For example, chaturanga took me almost a whole year to be able to do properly after injuring my shoulder last. My floppy shoulder couldn’t handle the strength required.
Overstretching is very real
After finally seeing a physical therapist, I found out there are a lot of specific habits that are associated with hypermobility. One of them being cracking your knuckles. Now, I am not a doctor, but this is an observation that was presented to me by my licensed professional.
Also, people with hypermobility tend to stretch constantly. I mean, All. The. Time. The thought about this is that someone who is hypermobile, doesn’t realize that they are already stretched out, so they have this desire to keep stretching even when unnecessary. Which isn’t exactly great for your body. Too much of anything is bad, ya know?
Yoga can be a bit of a chore
The hardest thing about being hypermobile is probably knowing you can do some really neat, crazy postures. And also knowing, that that s*** is probably the worst thing for you.
Holding back in yoga is the worst thing when your hypermobile. You just want to soar, to stretch to bend, but in a lot of cases, you should probably just chill and focus on strength and your breath. Which can feel quite debilitating when you just want to do the thing you’re good at.
It’s still all about balance
At the end of the day life is simply about balance.
Take some time to find your breath, to focus on the poses that you don’t like as much. Get comfortable in discomfort. Change your yoga practice a bit.
And, if you are hypermobile, try some other activities that complement yoga! Running was really hard for me because my joints would just seize up. But biking, swimming and even bouldering have been some of my go-to physical exercises to try to combat my injuries and my mindset!
My hope is that this gave you some insight to what some forms of flexibility can be and what some issues with hypermobility are! The grass isn’t always greener on the flexible side of life, I can tell you that much.
Have you ever been diagnosed with hypermobility, or do you think you might be hypermobile? How do you cope? Share with me in the comments!