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Hypermobility and Your Body

What is hypermobility?

Joints allow our bodies to be flexible. Without them, movement wouldn’t be possible. Sometimes, joints can be too flexible. When joints are too flexible, it’s called hypermobility (hy-per-mo-bili-ty). Hypermobility occurs when ligaments are too loose and/or if there is a problem with the tissue connecting our bones.

What is proprioception?

Proprioception (pro-pri-o-ception) is the name for the body’s sense of where a body part is compared to other parts or space. Proprioception also tells us if body parts are moving. For example, closing your eyes and touching the tip of your nose with one finger uses proprioception. The sensory receptors for proprioception are located in muscles and ligaments that support joints. If joints are too loose or flexible, sensory receptors may not tell the joints to stop in time and thus causing pain.  Balancing exercises help train the proprioception receptors and recruit more receptors to help stop the joints move too far.  

What activities are safe for my child?

Your child should get 60 minutes of physical activity in every day. Activities like sports or gym class, along with free-play activities like playing at a playground or running around with neighborhood friends are great examples of physical activity. Activities such as biking, Tai Chi, and games in a pool are especially good for people with hypermobility because they lessen the strain on joints. Activities that push the limits of your joint mobility such as baseball/softball and gymnastics can cause joint damage for some people with hypermobility.

Strength training like lifting weights or body-weight exercises like squats, push-ups, and heel-raises are important for joint health. Using weights or body-weight exercises helps make bones stronger and protect joints from injuries. It is safe if your child can do 10-15 repetitions of the same weigh-exercises with good form. Strength training 2-3 days a week with at least one full day in between sessions is recommended. Using slow, more controlled movements is good for the joints because these motions keep your child’s joints in a more stable position.

When exercise is a fun, family activity, your child is more likely to stick with it. Check with your child’s therapist to see if certain activities are appropriate.

What else can I do to protect my child’s joints?

Sometimes a brace and taping can be used to give extra support to a joint that is too flexible. Braces come in many styles and sizes and vary in the amount of support they provide. Braces are most commonly used for elbows, knees, and ankles. Your child’s physical therapist or occupational therapist can help find a brace that is comfortable and provides the best protection.

How can a physical therapist or occupational therapist help?

Physical and Occupational Therapists can help you improve muscle weakness and issues with proprioception. They can also help you learn how to choose activities that are safe for your body.  Occupational therapy helps a child develop sensory receptors that have not worked well in the past.

Questions?

This information is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

Reviewed 10/2018

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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