Yoga Practice

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Hypermobility

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!

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Anne

    February 5, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Great article! Had no idea this was a condition.

  2. Avatar

    Paula

    February 5, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    Nice article interesting and informative . . Thanks for sharing !

  3. Avatar

    Jamie Wood

    February 5, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Interesting read!! No idea this condition existed!

  4. Avatar

    Ruthanne

    February 5, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Great article!

  5. Avatar

    Jocelyn

    February 5, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    Great article. My daughter is hyper mobile from the waist down and we always have to be very careful as she is always rolling on her ankles.

  6. Avatar

    Kurt Watkins

    February 7, 2018 at 1:25 am

    Great information and delivered simply and real.

  7. Avatar

    Stephanie Markley

    February 11, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Excellent article!

  8. Avatar

    Kelly

    February 11, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    This article perfectly portrays what it’s like to be hypermobile. I have been hypermobile for as long as I can remember, and have a laundry list of injuries to go along with it. People always come up to me after yoga classes and compliment my flexibility, but I always say I am working on strength and keeping my body healthy. It’s tough to always have to be conscious of how far you’re stretching your ligaments so as not to get injured. These are some great tips!

  9. Avatar

    Lavender L.

    March 18, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Very interesting article. Do you have any recommendations for how to modify yoga for an EDS and/or dysautonomia diagnosis? New to the whole bit, and wondering if you have tips! I love yoga, but even before the hypermobility bit, I was having trouble with the “sit down/stand up bit as a result of the dysautonomia diagnosis I’ve had for awhile that makes my heart rate and BP go wonky with postural changes. Now with the “don’t overstretch joints” bit, I’m not sure how to do yoga anymore!

  10. Pála Margrét

    Pála Margrét

    April 11, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Love this one! I have the “curse of flexibility” as well, though not as extreme as you. I think my ligaments are about 5% more flexible then the normal person. For me, flexibility comes easily, and strength doesn´t! I really relate with the chaturanga!

    I once heard that the advanced poses in yoga are there so that the flexible/strong ones can feel the same as the beginners feel when they start yoga – so that the challenge always grows.

    Slowly, I´m getting stronger, and becoming more aware of the strength I need as a foundation for my flexibility!

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