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Resistance Training vs. Hypermobility

Should overly flexible athletes pick up heavy things? Or should they just put them down.

This is a topic I discuss often with my strength coach friends. Many of them are used to what they consider the "typical" athlete population of football players, basketball players, hockey players and baseball players who fall somewhere in the middle of the mobility spectrum. Or do they?

Many professionals can be weary about the idea of training athletes or adults that fall on the flexible side of the mobility spectrum, like gymnasts, dancers, circus athletes, etc. There is talk of, "maybe they shouldn't use weights" and "I don't want their joints to dislocate." What many don't realize, is that those athletes you consider "typical" and don't think twice about loading up in the weight room with some modifications, may be right alongside those gymnasts on the mobility spectrum.

Before we go any further, I want to share a few facts regarding hypermobility with you.

  1. Hypermobility can occur in one joint on its own or be systemic through the whole body

  2. Hypermobility can be mild, moderate or severe

  3. Athletes with hypermobility can generally safely weight train, with some modifications at times.

  4. Athletes with hypermobility SHOULD generally weight train. It can improve their pain, tendon stiffness, and proprioception, as well as all of the usual benefits from weight training.

  5. You may need to throw some previously held beliefs, like - locking out at the end of a lift, compound movements only, etc. out the window to safely weight train someone with hypermobility.

Now that we got that out of the way, lets discuss proprioception, or the ability to know where our body is in space. This is what allows us to set up for a lift without a mirror, to make corrections to our form and to know when we have successfully completed a lift. People with hypermobility may be lacking some amount of proprioception in the joints in which they are hypermobile. There are a variety of things that may help to improve proprioception a few of which I have listed here.

  1. Training one joint at a time - to start

  2. Lightly-moderately loading a movement

  3. Training in front of a mirror

  4. Training with slight compression the the area being addressed (i.e. leggings, compression sleeve,etc.)

  5. Training when not in a fatigued state, having a small-moderate amount of caffeine before training.

If you want to learn more about this topic, and the 3 methods I use when training people with hypermobility, click here to listen to a lecture on the topic. If you are someone with hypermobility and want to work with me, click here.

Just remember, everyone can, and should pick things up and put them down, to whatever level they are capable. It is imperative to maintaining function as a human.

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