Group of women holding weights in the air doing exercises.

The Best Exercises for Hypermobile Joints: A Comprehensive Guide

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The best exercises for hypermobile joints are ones that are gentle and improve joint stability. But not every exercise works well when you’re hypermobile.

So, let’s discover which exercises will benefit your hypermobility the most, so you can come up with a training plan that suits you.

Is Exercise Good for Hypermobility?

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help your hypermobility. To keep the symptoms associated with hypermobility under control, it’s recommended that you exercise daily.

Can You Exercise with Hypermobility?

Yes, you can exercise with hypermobility. In fact, exercise can be beneficial for people with hypermobile joints, as it helps to strengthen muscles and stabilize the joints. However, it’s crucial to choose the right type of exercise and to do it correctly.

It’s always best to start gently and work your way up. This is particularly important if you don’t already regularly exercise as you don’t want to risk injuring your joints.

You may find speaking to your primary care physician helpful too as they’ll be able to guide you on what exercises are recommended for hypermobility.

Does Strengthening Help Hypermobility?

Strengthening exercises are an essential component of managing hypermobility. By strengthening the muscles around the joints, you can provide extra support and stability, reducing the risk of injury. 

You often find that people with hypermobility are weaker than people without hypermobility. This is because the connective tissue in their bodies isn’t as strong.

One study found that this was a more common feature in hypermobile males. The study Muscle strength differences in healthy young adults with and without generalized joint hypermobility: a cross-sectional study reported that males with Generalized Joint Hypermobility (GJH) had less strength in their elbows and knees compared to males without hypermobility.

Strengthening exercises should, therefore, play a crucial role in building your strength.

Some of the best strengthening exercises for hypermobility include:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Planks
  • Bridges

Best Strength Exercises for Hypermobility

In addition to the exercises mentioned above, other strength exercises that can be helpful for hypermobility include:

  • Deadlifts 
  • Calf raises
  • Glute bridges

It’s essential to start with low weights and gradually increase as you build strength, to avoid injury.

Physical Therapy Exercises for Hypermobility

Physical therapy can be an excellent option for managing hypermobility. A physical therapist can develop an exercise plan tailored to your specific needs and goals. Some common physical therapy exercises for hypermobility include clamshells, leg lifts, and wall angels.

However, the physical therapy exercises you will be asked to do will depend on which of your joints are hypermobile and which ones you are getting the most pain in.

For example, if you suffer from a lot of ankle or knee pain, heel raises are recommended as they strengthen the calf muscles.

Safe Exercises for Hypermobility

When exercising with hypermobility, it’s important to choose exercises that are safe for your joints. Low-impact exercises which are good options include:

  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Pilates
  • Standing-balance exercises
  • Tai chi

One of the best exercises for hypermobile joints is Closed Chain Exercises. These are movements where your body is fixed in a position. Squats are a good example of this. 

One study, which involved a child with hEDS, found that closed chain exercises improved lower extremity functionality, reduced pain, reduced the use of orthotics, and increased the amount of sport the child could participate in.

Best Exercises for Hypermobile SI Joint

The SI joint, or sacroiliac joint, is a common site of hypermobility. Exercises that can help strengthen the muscles around the SI joint include:

  • Hip bridges
  • Bird dogs
  • Side planks
  • Knee pushes
  • Ball squeezes

Again, it’s crucial to start with low weights and progress gradually.

How to Exercise with Hypermobility

When exercising with hypermobility, it’s important to focus on proper form and technique. Start with a light warm-up, and pay attention to how your body feels during exercise. 

It’s recommended that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week. In addition, strengthening activities should be done twice per week. 

We know this sounds like a lot of exercise. Remember, you don’t have to do this much exercise all in one go. You have 7 days to do it.

Don’t be harsh on yourself, either. Pain and fatigue go hand-in-hand with hypermobility and if you’re not used to exercising, you’re going to suffer if you go from barely exercising to intense workouts every day.

Any exercise you do is better than nothing. Take your time and slowly build up your stamina and strength. By doing things this way you’ll be amazed a few weeks down the line when you can do something you couldn’t do at the start.

And remember, if you experience pain or discomfort, stop the exercise and consult with a medical professional.

Is Walking Good for Joint Hypermobility?

Walking is generally considered a good exercise for people with hypermobility. It’s low-impact and can help improve cardiovascular health. However, it’s essential to wear appropriate shoes. 

The feet and knees are two of the most commonly affected joints by hypermobility. Good quality walking shoes need to be worn as they’ll help with your balance and stability. They’ll also support your tendons and ligaments and reduce the risk of a slip or fall.

What are the Worst Exercises for Hypermobile Joints?

High-impact activities such as running or jumping may be too jarring for hypermobile joints and should be approached with caution. Additionally, exercises that require a lot of twisting or bending may also increase the risk of injury. 

Other exercises which should be avoided are:

  • Open chain exercises
  • Team sports

Yoga is another exercise that can be bad for hypermobile joints. The biggest risk is overstretching. As a result, the joints hyperextend and damage occurs.

On the plus side, people with hypermobility can do yoga as long as they work their bodies within a normal range of movement. Working closely with a professional yoga instructor well-versed in hypermobility is recommended.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the best exercises for hypermobility are ones that can manage the symptoms of the condition. Strengthening exercises, physical therapy, and low-impact exercises such as swimming and yoga can help improve joint stability and reduce the risk of injury. By following a safe and appropriate exercise plan, people with hypermobile joints can enjoy an active lifestyle.

Author

  • Amy

    Amy lives with hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). She spent years not knowing what was wrong with her body, before eventually being diagnosed in her 30s. She has two young children - both of whom are hypermobile.