Hypermobility Syndrome is characterized by excessive ligament looseness. Ligaments are the primary stabilizers of joints. There’s not much you can do to change that looseness—it’s just how you’re built. So, knowing this, what can you do?
Well, try not exercising through the full range of motion of your joints—because that range of motion is likely excessive. This is where joints can get really irritated. Don’t worry, even if you strengthen through about 75% of your range of motion, you’ll still be strong through the full range of motion.
I’ve had most success having patients strengthen in a very small pain-free arc of motion, whatever that might be. Start somewhere and very slowly build from there. There may even be more than one pain-free arc of motion in one exercise. For instance, with a biceps curl, one arc of motion could be at about a 60-80-degree bend in the elbow and another at a 120-130 arc of motion. Strengthen in both.
This applies to any exercise—stay away from full range of motion and find pain-free arcs to train in. See if you can eventually link those arcs together.
Avoid stretching. If you’re hypermobile you likely have too much motion already. You don’t need to stretch it more. You might think you need to stretch because your muscles hurt though. But they’re not hurting because of tightness. To get rid of that ache, instead try gentle massage, heat, or ice—whatever works for you.
Change your cardio to something that uses less weight bearing or pounding as that irritates joints. Switch to something like swimming or cycling instead.
Wear a neoprene sleeve on painful joints or tape them when exercising to assist with stabilization. They need all the help they can get.
Lastly, have patience. Hypermobility issues require slow buildup of tolerance for activities. Good luck! Feel free to check out my home programs for more help.
Rick Olderman is a sports and orthopedic physical therapist, personal trainer, Pilates instructor, and speaker living in Denver, CO. He has been practicing physical therapy since 1996.
If you suffer from back pain, hip pain, knee pain, foot pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, or headaches, I want to encourage you to try my at-home program.