Dr. Andrew Fagan Article

Proper stretching crucial for hypermobile athletes

We all know how important flexibility is in sport.

Athletes who are tight around functional joints used at play have a higher chance of suffering from sprain and strain injuries. This is why dynamic stretching before and static stretching after sport is practised by many.

However, there is a significant portion of the population who actually have too much motion available around their joints. This is called joint hypermobility syndrome.

Signs and symptoms of hypermobility can include joint pain, joint instability, clicking or popping of joints, increased dislocations and or subluxations.

The main cause of joint hypermobility is thought to be genetic in nature. Specific genes are passed on from parents to their children. Genes that produce collagen, an important structural protein in our bodies, play a role. As a result hypermobility tends to run in families.

The most common way of assessing for hypermobility syndrome is using the Beighton score. One point is given if the person is able to do the following: place hands flat of the floor with legs straight; hyperextend the left and/or right knee; hyperextend the left and/or right arm; have either thumb extend back to touch the forearm; extend right and/or left little finger bend back past 90 degrees.

If the person is able to do four or more of the nine they are positive for hypermobility syndrome using this method.

If a person is identified as having joint hypermobility syndrome, it is important that the individual remain physically fit even more so than the average individual. Regular exercise can help reduce symptoms as strong muscles around the joints increase dynamic joint stability.

Recommended exercises include low-impact endurance exercises such as swimming or elliptical training. Weight training should focus toward closed chain movements such a plank or a squat, instead of open chain exercises that are more likely to injure a hypermobile joint.

Exercises such as yoga that look to further lengthen the functional neuromuscular system is not usually recommended to hypermobile athletes.

If you have hypermobility syndrome, I recommend seeing a functional movement professional for advice on stabilization exercises.

Dr. Andrew Fagan is a licensed chiropractor, kinesiologist and clinical acupuncture provider. You can reach him at dr.fagan@porthopehealthcentre.com or 905-885-5111