Bendy, flexible, double-jointed... it might actually be HYPERMOBILITY.
Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
Most people want to be flexible, but you have it naturally.
I originally meant for this to be one blog post about hypermobility, but the wealth of information I have to communicate is much too extensive - so welcome to part one! I hope to help you uncover some answers on your search to understand your bendy body more; I was in the same space once down what seemed like an endless rabbit hole. When I finally made the connection with JHS, I quite seriously cried. It was such a relief to finally understand the root of all my problems. I truly believe hypermobility is the missing link for many people to understand their anxiety, depression, back pain, constant sprains, and tension headaches - among other things. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or share your stories! With that being said, let's take a dip into JHS:
What is joint hypermobility syndrome?
Also known as hyper flexibility or double-jointedness, joint hypermobility refers to certain joints in the body that bend more than what is considered normal. These people are usually gymnasts or dancers, people who are "good" at yoga or those who try to fly under the radar but get turned into walking freakshows by their friends who request to see the "cool" tricks they can pull off, like bending their fingers all the way back to touch their hand or being able to dislocate their shoulders.
The degree to which an individual can be affected by JHS is on a sliding scale (as with most syndromes) of benign, mild, moderate and severe. Most people are on the benign end of the spectrum, purely cosmetic/external: being able to bend back a finger or having hyperflexible elbows. Mild and moderate cases have more external body parts affected and some internal effects are seen too, especially in their autonomic nervous system (more on that later, it's fascinating!). The most extreme end of the spectrum is a condition called Ehler's Danlos, which causes weak connective tissue and slows down collagen production, making skin less elastic and wrinkled at a younger age.
The causes of JHS are thought to be genetic. Genes that are responsible for the production of collagen, an important protein that helps to glue tissues together, are suspected of playing a role. It's estimated 10-20% of the population is affected to some degree, with more women experiencing it than men. The most heavily affected part of the population are babies, children and young adults. Our bodies tend to lose flexibility overtime which is why older people aren't as largely affected. Many infants with JHS are diagnosed with low muscle tone instead because the increased pliability in the connective tissue also affects the muscles which may appear to be floppy and are often weak. This in turn affects how the baby moves and develops and may mean that they are late achieving some major developmental milestones. Its crucial to get kids diagnosed early and put on a proactive exercise plan before they do damage to their joints and ligaments!
Am I hypermobile?
Although most of us probably aren’t medical professionals, there’s an easy test called the Beighton Criteria you can do literally anywhere to determine your flexibility + if it falls into the hypermobile range.
Score of 4 or more of the following:
-Touch hands flat to floor with knees straight (1 point)
-Bend elbow backwards (1 pt each side)
-Bend knees backwards (1 pt each side)
-Bend thumb back onto the front of forearm? (1 pt each side)
-Bend pinky finger up at 90 degree angle to the back of your hand (1 pt each side)
Below is a lovely graphic demonstrating.
If you score 4 or more on the test above, chances are, you're hypermobile. In my next post I'll go over the symptoms of hypermobility. Many of which you wouldn't believe are related, like fibromyalgia, anxiety, low blood pressure and fatigue.
Comment below! What did you score on the test?!