Hypermobility and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome: What is it, and can Pilates help?
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Hypermobility is a condition often overlooked by health professionals and exercise practitioners.
To be flexible is a good thing, but too much flexibility can be detrimental. The hypermobile body has a difficult time building and maintaining muscle strength.
This body type therefore easily succumbs to injury. An injury can come from overloading the joint but more often it will come from over-stretching. Pilates is one of the safest and most effective forms of exercise for the hypermobile client. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a form of extreme hypermobility that effects the joints, skin and even the internal fascial tissue. It presents in varying degrees and can be crippling for some. The condition is genetic and can be confirmed through a blood test.
Hypermobility (whether caused by EDS or not) is a serious condition that needs careful attention. It is very important to keep the hypermobile body strong and this takes constant diligent application. It is a mistake to see extreme flexibility as a "party trick" and to force joints into intense over-extension on a regular basis. People who do this often need hip replacements before they are 40 years old. The key to managing this condition is substantial resistance exercise.
Pilates vs Gym for Hypermobility and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
The Pilates machines have an edge over gym equipment in this instance. For one thing the equipment provides more support and a finer level of adjustment. More importantly the steel spring resistance provides both concentric and eccentric work for the muscles. That is, the muscles work during the shortening and lengthening phase of the contraction thereby creating stronger and smarter muscle fibers.