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Hypermobility – What is it and How Can Physio and Sports Therapy help?

Hypermobility – What is hypermobility and how can Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy help?


It is estimated that 10-15% of the general population is affected by some form of Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) and whilst some may not have a diagnosis of hypermobility or related conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) or Marfan Syndrome, many people can have multiple joints that display hypermobility. It is more prevalent among Asian and African populations, and it is three times more frequent in women than in men. It is also most prevalent in childhood with severity declining somewhat with age.

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Hypermobility refers to an increased range of motion in one or more joints beyond what is considered normal. This increased flexibility is typically due to laxity in the ligaments and other connective tissues surrounding the joint. Hypermobility can affect any joint in the body but is most observed in the knees, elbows, wrists, fingers, and shoulders. This is usually assessed by clinicians using the Beighton’s Scale scoring system which evaluates the range of motion at these joints. A lot of the general population will experience hypermobility without any associated symptoms or medical conditions. In fact, in some sports, hypermobility can be beneficial to sporting performance.


For instance, having hypermobility in sports that require a wide range of motion, such as gymnastics, dance, figure skating, or martial arts can help athletes achieve the desired movements and techniques their sport asks of them. Across different sports hypermobility can assist in sporting performance, for example, hypermobility in the elbow and shoulder can assist baseball players, in achieving maximum velocity and precision in pitching as it allows for a wider arc during the throwing motion.


Hypermobility can also play a part in reducing the risk of injury in some activities as athletes may be less prone to muscular strains or tearing during movements requiring a greater range of movement. Hence, hypermobility should not always be regarded as a negative attribute, as it is simply a natural aspect of an individual’s physiology. While it can present challenges, it can also offer advantages when managed appropriately, contributing to an individual’s capabilities. However, careful management is crucial to mitigate the risk of injury associated with hypermobility.


This management is something that MSO Physio can proudly provide. We see a lot of patients struggling with injuries or pain relating to hypermobility, which could be managed or even, prevented. Excessive laxity in a joint can predispose patients to joint instability and overuse injuries as the surrounding structures are required to work harder to stabilise the joint. Fatigue may set in more quickly due to the extra stress placed upon the ligaments and muscles, potentially affecting endurance and performance during sporting activities. This in turn can cause overload which can lead to tendinopathy, strains, sprains, and pain from exercising.


Hypermobility can impact a player’s ability to generate power and control their movement effectively. This can lead to inconsistencies in technique and performance, especially under pressure situations, this in turn can lead to injuries such as sprains and dislocations. Hypermobility may also cause overextension of joints during strenuous movements, increasing the likelihood of injuries. When joints are hyperextended, the muscles surrounding them may be stretched beyond their optimal length, which can slow down their response time and reduce their ability to contract forcefully to absorb shock, which may lead to injuries.


This leads us to the question; How can Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy help those with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome?


At MSO Physio, we are a team of musculoskeletal, sports and orthopaedic specialists. This means we can use our knowledge in biomechanics, movement, and the musculoskeletal system to observe how you move and find the areas you have difficulties or weaknesses. This allows us to give you the most appropriate exercise and technical advice to prevent injury and to help you with any pain or discomfort you feel due to hypermobility in your day-to-day lives or during your sporting activities. We are also injury experts and can help you get back to your day-to-day living following an injury whilst being able to understand how your body works and is affected by your hypermobility.


If you think you may have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and have been struggling with injury, pain, and fatiguing muscles, MSO Physio’s clinicians can help you understand this condition and provide you with support and a plan. If there is a suspicion that you may have a related condition such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome we can provide you with any guidance you may need, such as recommending onward referrals to other professionals with a special interest in this area.