Are You Hypermobile?

pilates & hypermobility Jun 30, 2024
This image os of a person with a wrist and thumb that is hypermobile, meaning the joints are very loosely bound


Many clients say they are double-jointed when starting Pilates with me.  What they are referring to is being hypermobile or having an extensive range of movement in their joints, as in reality, there is no such thing as being double-jointed.  Try doing the same movement pictured above with your wrist and thumb.  If you can do this or almost do this, you have a very large range of movement in your wrist joint and thumb joint. This is an indication that those joints are hypermobile and that other joints in your body are likely to have a degree of hypermobility as well.  If, like me, you aren't even close to being able to do the movement in the picture, you aren't hypermobile but may have a normal range of movement in your joints or be on the other end of the spectrum and be hypomobile or have an extremely tight or restricted range of movement in your joints. 


Why Do I Need To Know If I'm Hypermobile?


Knowledge is power and the greater your understanding of your own body and how it moves and functions the greater the chance you have of being able to take control of your health and fitness and overcome pain or injury.  I'm sharing this information with you not to alarm you but to educate and inform you so you are in the best position possible to ensure your body functions efficiently for you well into your retirement years, If you are hypermobile you usually love to stretch because it gives you instant relief but strengthening your muscles to support your joints should be your focus instead.  One of my clients of 12 years is hypermobile and had dislocated her shoulder on several occasions before starting Pilates due to overstretching. She has never overstretched since she started Pilates as she has excellent body awareness now and knows just what she needs to do to prevent pain and injury for her body type. 


 How Common Is Hypermobility?


According to Arthritis Australia,  up to 10% (1 in 10) of the population have some joint hypermobility; women are affected three times more often than men.  A large proportion of my clients are hypermobile because often they are more prone to pain and injury and in need of solutions for managing their health issues in comparison to less hypermobile people. If you were incredibly flexible as a child and could do the splits easily and contort your spine into different positions at gymnastics or dance you are hypermobile.  Continually spraining or straining joints from a young age such as the ankle joint is also an indicator of hypermobility as the ligaments are so loosely bound around the joint making it more unstable.  I had a degree of flexibility but wasn't hypermobile as a child but could do gymnastics successfully,  I could almost do the splits but it took a lot of practice and pushing my joints way beyond their natural limit.  This is common practice in some sports but can lead to injury and long-term damage.  A physio who once treated me said I would never sprain my ankle due to my tightly bound ligaments and I never have but I've had other injuries due to my ankle ligaments being too tight.  Either extreme of having joints that are too loose or tight can cause injury and it's all about balance. Ideally, you need a good combination of flexibility and strength, and no matter where you are on the spectrum of being hypermobile or hypomobile, Pilates is perfect for helping to create balance in your body to overcome pain and injury and prevent it from occurring in the future.


Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome


In some cases, extreme hypermobility can be a symptom of a more serious disorder such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. This group of inherited disorders primarily affects the connective tissue causing very flexible joints, and stretchy fragile skin. It can also affect the blood vessel walls. This can lead to joint dislocations, arthritis, heart issues and complications during pregnancy. If you have any of these symptoms it is best to speak to your medical practitioner about your concerns.


Aging With Hypermobility


While being hypermobile as a child means you are more flexible, the opposite can happen as you age especially if you become more sedentary. Joints that are unstable due to lax ligaments can become very stiff as you age if you have inadequate muscle support to compensate for the loose ligaments.  In an attempt to hold your body upright, certain parts will tighten up to try to achieve this while other joints will become even looser. It's this type of imbalance that can be avoided by practicing Pilates. By strengthening the core or abdominal muscles and glutes with Pilates you are establishing a very strong base of support for your loose joints. If you then strengthen from the feet up you are future-proofing yourself against pain and injury in your later years.

My book MOVE FREE FROM PAIN by Joanne Sutton contains more information about body types and is available on Amazon worldwide. I  offer 1 on 1 Pilates sessions virtually via Skype and the personalised nature of these sessions ensures you are following a Pilates program of exercises that are ideal for you.  If you are ready to start Pilates email me at [email protected] .  Alternatively, you can book an Initial Assessment with me here or  take the free 10 day trial of JS Mind Body Pilates, my online studio which is a library of on-demand videos, and start straight away.  It would be my pleasure to assist you on your Pilates journey to pain-free living as you age!






If you are ready to take control of your own health and fitness then download your free copy of my detailed guide.

Learn more about what sort of people benefit from Pilates and how it can help you too. I separate the myths from the facts and share actual case studies of my clients who have achieved life-changing results from my unique Pilates program.