When you were in the first grade, there was a kid in your class who could bend his fingers backward. His sister could do a great imitation of a pretzel by putting her feet behind her head. Everybody thought it was the coolest thing – or they were grossed out. Your classmates probably told you they could do it because they were double-jointed. Give them a break. They were just repeating what they were told.
People who are capable of physical feats like this are actually capable of what medical professionals call “hypermobility.” It’s a big word that basically means you’re capable of moving certain joints past what is for most people a normal point of restriction.
Hypermobility syndrome is a genetic condition, and it appears to be spread equally across about 10% of the population. Children are usually more likely to demonstrate their hypermobility because adults tend to lose most of the condition as they age.
It’s not much of a concern when you’re young, but overexertion of the range of a joint into adulthood can cause cartilage deterioration or stretched tendons. In other words, adults aren’t much interested in showing off their hypermobility because it starts to be painful. Children with hypermobility syndrome may experience what we commonly call “growing pains” more often than children who don’t have it.
Hypermobility problems in adults
People with hypermobility syndrome are susceptible to soft tissue injuries and sprains, and these particular joints are prone to become dislocated. It’s important to exercise properly to build appropriate muscle support that can help to compensate for joints that easily move past the standard range of movement.
Proper nutrition is also important. It’s theorized that hypermobility syndrome impacts the genes involved in the production of collagen. A chiropractor who knows someone in their care has hypermobility syndrome may instruct them to increase of collagen because this protein is extremely important for proper joint, tendon, and ligament production.
Hypermobility syndrome doesn’t necessarily need to be treated. Most adults who have it only experience occasional joint pain or discomfort. Chiropractors will administer adjustments to bring these joints into proper movement patterns that help to keep the whole body in alignment. Often, people with hypermobility syndrome have an improper gait or posture because of stress from these joints which are compensating because of misalignment.
Medical professionals recommend that parents of children with hypermobility syndrome explain the consequences of long-term joint overextensions. Yes, the purpose of a joint is to give motion – but the joint’s function is also to halt hypermotion. Too far in the other direction can cause injury. Think about it. If our knee joints had evolved to extend in both directions, we would collapse because we couldn’t bear the weight of our own bodies. Going past those safe and stable points should be avoided. It leads to extra wear and tear to ligaments and cartilages.
Your first grade classmate probably isn’t doing that trick with his fingers anymore. Learn more about how we can help you regain your health the holistic way.