Can You Be Too Flexible?

Can You Be Too Flexible?

As an adult, I went to see a specialist about a shoulder injury.  The doctor dislocated my shoulder and immediately put it back in place.  “You didn’t tell me you were hypermobile!  You are double jointed!”  And for those of you reading this who are wincing at the thought of how painful that must have been, it wasn’t.  

When a joint(s) has the ability to move outside of a normal range of motion, that joint is described as hypermobile.  When you have five or more hypermobile joints, you have generalized hypermobility.  Hypermobile joints can have instability, pain and muscle strain.  You can train joints to be hypermobile or it can be genetic.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder that can manifest in many different ways.  Because it affects the connective tissue, hypermobility is one of the ways that EDS appears in the body.  

Yoga teachers and other fitness professionals often cue to “feel the stretch.”  People with hypermobility often cannot feel the end range of motion and will over stretch or think they are doing it wrong because there is no stretching sensation.  They also can have complete lack of mobility in a different set of muscles.  I love external rotation of the hip and cannot forward fold because of hamstrings that are too tight.

Hypermobility can result in poor proprioception.  I read an interesting study on proprioception.

“…Subsequently, in 1906, the English neurophysiologist Sir Charles Sherrington coined “proprioception”, from a combination of the Latin “proprius” (one’s own) and “perception”, to give a term for the sensory information derived from (neural) receptors embedded in joints, muscles and tendons that enable a person to know where parts of the body are located at any time. He referred to proprioception as “the perception of joint and body movement as well as position of the body, or body segments, in space”.

Assessing proprioception: A critical review of methods
Jia Han,a,b,* Gordon Waddington,b Roger Adams,b Judith Anson,b and Yu Liuc

When a hypermobile joint moves, the person cannot sense the movement and can over stretch into an injury.  

Some other symptoms of hypermobility are:

  • Middle of the night migraines
  • Poor digestion
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Degeneration of the sacrum
  • Back pain

My approach was to release myself from the idea that flexibility was the goal.  I have reduced my hypermobile range of motion into a smaller range of motion.  I am still flexible in my hips, shoulders and wrists while having more strength and stability.  And my middle of the night migraines are a thing of the past.

If you enjoyed this blog, you will enjoy our weekly newsletter. Sign up below!

1 thought on “Can You Be Too Flexible?”

  1. This really resonated with me. It’s not about being the most flexible person in the mat. It’s about moving in a healthy way that matches your body strengths and limitations. Thank you for this post!


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Sign up for our newsletter!