Fun fact: did you know that people who are congenitally lax/hypermobile have noticeably higher incidence of anxiety disorders? This is not to point fingers, but it may make your next yoga class a little more interesting. I mention this because we tend to presume that more mobility is always a good thing. This is simply not the case. Some people who present as hypermobile and have naturally lax joints will be inclined to do activities like yoga that increase their already considerable mobility, simply because they’re good at them. The worst thing you can do with a hypermobile client and specifically to a hypermobile joint is to stretch it. These individuals would be much better served focusing primarily on stability work and strength training rather than trying to increase and already excessive range of motion. The place to start is with the core. A strong midline will allow an athlete to put less stress on their distal joints. Take a tennis player or a golfer for example, as they begin to fatigue, their core weakness will force them to over-utilize their shoulder and elbow joint to generate rotational power on the ball, the result: Injury.
Conversely, take an athlete with great stability and strength and a well developed midline. Years of resistance training has conferred many advantages on this athlete. But strength training without mobility work has made her stiff as a board. Her range of motion is stunted in certain joints, usually the shoulders hips and adductors are so creaky and immobile that we start to see chronic injuries occurring but for the opposite reason as the athlete above. This athlete should lay off the weights a little and make mobility work a priority.
These are the two extreme ends of the spectrum, most of us fall somewhere in between and some of us can be mobile in certain joints and stiff in others. In the end, a one size fits all approach doesn’t work when addressing these issues and an individualized assessment will allow each of us to see what we need to work on and where we need to lay off.