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The Most Effective Closed Chain Exercises For Hypermobility

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Closed chain exercises for hypermobility effectively increase stability and reduce pain and injury. The good thing about these exercises is they involve the distal end of the limb being fixed to the ground or a stable surface.

People with HSD, hEDS, and other hypermobility syndromes are typically advised to do closed chain exercises to manage their symptoms and improve their strength. 

In this article, we will explore the benefits of closed chain exercises and provide examples of effective exercises for hypermobile individuals.

Are Closed Chain Exercises Better?

Closed chain exercises have several advantages over open chain exercises, where body parts, such as the hands and feet, are free to move. Closed chain exercises increase joint stability and proprioception (your sense of movement, force, and body location), reduce shear forces, and improve muscle activation patterns. 

These benefits are particularly important for individuals with hypermobility, as they are more prone to joint instability and injury.

Science also backs up the use of closed chain exercises for hypermobility. 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.

Closed Chain Hip Strengthening Exercises

Hip strengthening is crucial for individuals with hypermobility, as the hips play a key role in stabilizing the pelvis and lower extremity. Closed chain hip strengthening exercises can improve hip muscle strength and stability. 

These exercises also improve lower extremity alignment, which can reduce the risk of knee and ankle injuries.

Some of the most effective closed chain hip strengthening exercises are:

  • Clamshells – Clamshells are a hip strengthening exercise where you lie on your side with your knees bent and feet together, and then lift your top knee away from the bottom knee while keeping your feet touching.
  • Lunges – Lunges are a lower body exercise that target the hips, quads, and glutes. You step forward with one leg and bend both knees until the back knee is close to or touching the ground, then push back up to standing.
  • Squats – Squats are a lower body exercise that target the hips, thighs, and glutes. You start in a standing position, then bend at the knees and hips to lower your body down as if sitting back into a chair.
  • Deadlifts – Deadlifts are a compound exercise that work the entire posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. You start with a weighted bar on the ground, then lift it up by extending your hips and standing up.
  • Bridges – Bridges are a glute strengthening exercise where you lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, then lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Step-ups – Step-ups are a lower body exercise that work the hips, quads, and glutes. You step up onto a platform or bench with one foot, then step back down and repeat with the other foot.
  • Wall sits – Wall sits are an isometric exercise where you stand with your back against a wall and lower your body down into a seated position, with your thighs parallel to the ground, then hold that position.
  • Side-lying leg lifts – Side-lying leg lifts are a hip abduction exercise where you lie on your side and lift your top leg up towards the ceiling.
  • Single leg balance – Single leg balance is an exercise that improves balance and stability. You stand on one leg and hold your balance for as long as possible.
  • Crab walks – Crab walks are an exercise that work the hip abductors. You start in a seated position with your hands behind you and your feet flat on the ground. Then lift your hips up and walk forward using your hands and feet.

Closed Chain Exercises for Lower Extremity

Closed chain exercises for the lower extremities are effective for improving lower extremity strength and stability. These exercises can also help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. Closed chain exercises for the lower extremity can be done with minimal equipment and can easily be incorporated into a home exercise program.

The closed chain exercises for hypermobility that will help you lower extremities are:

  • Lunges – Lunges are another great closed chain exercise that work the lower extremities. You can perform walking lunges or stationary lunges.
  • Step-ups – Step-ups are a simple but effective exercise that can be done using a bench, step, or stairs. They target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • Bridges – Bridges are a popular exercise for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and lift your hips off the ground.
  • Wall sits – Wall sits are a great isometric exercise that can help strengthen the quads and glutes. Stand with your back against a wall and lower your body down into a seated position, with your thighs parallel to the ground.
  • Calf raises – Calf raises work the calf muscles, which are important for walking and running. Stand on the edge of a step or platform with your heels hanging off. Then raise your heels up as high as you can.
  • Box jumps – Box jumps are a plyometric exercise that can help improve power and explosiveness in the lower extremities. Stand in front of a box or platform and jump up onto it. Aim to land softly on the balls of your feet.
  • Squats – Squats are a great closed chain exercise for the lower extremities that work the hips, thighs, and glutes. You can use a barbell, dumbbells, or just your body weight to perform squats.

Closed Chain Exercises for Knee

Individuals with hypermobility are at increased risk for knee injuries due to excessive joint laxity. Closed chain exercises for the knee can help improve knee stability and reduce the risk of injury. These exercises also improve muscle strength and activation patterns, which can help prevent compensatory movements that can lead to injury.

Good closed chain exercises for knees which you should add to your exercise routine are:

  • Standing weight shift – Standing weight shift is an exercise that improves balance and weight distribution. You stand with your feet hip-width apart and shift your weight from one foot to the other.

  • Quad dips – Quad dips are a quad strengthening exercise. You stand facing a wall or sturdy surface. Then place your hands on the surface, and lower your body down into a dip. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground.

  • Wall sits – Wall sits are an isometric exercise where you stand with your back against a wall. You then lower your body down into a seated position, with your thighs parallel to the ground. Hold that position.

  • One-legged quad dips – One-legged quad dips are a variation of quad dips that work one leg at a time. You stand on one leg and lower your body down into a dip. Make sure you bend your knee and keep your foot flat on the ground.

  • Lateral step ups – Lateral step ups are a lower body exercise that work the hips, quads, and glutes. You step up onto a platform or bench with one foot, then step back down and repeat with the other foot, stepping to the side of the bench.

  • Stork stand – Stork stand is an exercise that improves balance and stability. You stand on one leg and hold your balance while lifting the other leg off the ground and bringing it up towards your chest.

  • Squats – Squats are a lower body exercise that target the hips, thighs, and glutes. You start in a standing position, then bend at the knees and hips to lower your body down as if sitting back into a chair.

  • Lunges – Lunges are a lower body exercise that target the hips, quads, and glutes. You step forward with one leg and bend both knees until the back knee is close to or touching the ground, then push back up to standing.

Closed Chain Exercises for Upper Extremity

Closed chain exercises for the upper extremity are effective for improving upper body strength and stability. These exercises also improve scapular stabilization, which can reduce the risk of shoulder injuries. Closed chain exercises for the upper extremity can be done with minimal equipment. Plus, they can easily be incorporated into a home exercise program.

Some of the best closed chain exercises for upper extremity are:

  • Push-ups – Push-ups are a classic closed chain exercise that work the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Start in a plank position with your hands flat on the ground, and lower your body down until your chest touches the ground.

  • Plank rows – Plank rows are a challenging exercise that work the back, biceps, and shoulders. Start in a plank position with your hands on dumbbells, and row one arm up while keeping your core engaged.

  • Dips – Dips are a great closed chain exercise that work the triceps and shoulders. Start in a seated position with your hands on a bench or step behind you, and lower your body down until your arms form a 90-degree angle.
  • Pull-ups – Pull-ups are a challenging exercise that work the back, biceps, and shoulders. Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.

  • Bear crawls – Bear crawls are a fun exercise that work the shoulders, chest, and core. Get on your hands and feet and crawl forward, keeping your hips low and your core engaged.

  • Farmer’s walks – Farmer’s walks are a simple but effective exercise that work the grip, shoulders, and upper back. Hold two heavy dumbbells or kettlebells and walk forward for a set distance or time.

How to Make Sure Closed Chain Exercises Are Effective

This article shows a lot of different closed chain exercises for hypermobile people. We also advise starting with a few easy ones to begin with and slowly work your way up.

If you’re in any doubt about how to perform any of these exercises, speak to your physiotherapist first.

You also need to slowly add resistance, in the form of resistance bands and weights, to strengthen your body as much as possible.

Final thoughts

Closed chain exercises are an effective way to improve joint stability and reduce the risk of injury in individuals with hypermobility. Incorporating closed chain exercises into a home exercise program can help improve strength, stability, and proprioception. It is important to work with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized exercise program that takes into account the unique needs and limitations of individuals with hypermobility.

Sources: 

https://www.afpafitness.com/blog/closed-chain-exercise-for-legs-and-knees

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.