• Karen Charles

How Exercising in Water Can Help Relieve Hypermobility Syndrome

The benefits of AquaStretch in combating the symptoms associated with hypermobility

I remember when I was at school decades ago being mildly jealous of the girls in my gym class who were “double jointed”. They could do handstands, backflips, somersaults, cartwheels, and bridges seemingly without breaking into a sweat. All while I was trying to do a simple forward roll without falling off the floor mat.

Now that I’m a qualified fitness professional, while I can look around a yoga class and still feel a twinge of envy at some people’s ability to hold a difficult pose, I now realise that hypermobility – the modern name for being double jointed – is actually a mixed blessing.

Being hypermobile means that your joints are super-flexible. You are easily able to bend and contort your body much further than most people, even without years of gymnastics or ballet training. But being super-flexible can also have its drawbacks. You may not always know when to stop or even be aware when you are putting undue stress on your joints. Hypermobility can also exacerbate the onset of osteoarthritis, especially in women.

Hypermobility often can result in pain in your joints, but not all with hypermobility experience discomfort. This is why you need to take care of your body, watch for any symptoms and also consider taking preventative measures to head off any serious complications.

What is hypermobility syndrome?

With hypermobility, your joints are loose and stretchy because the tissues that should support them are weak. If you have chronic pain in your joints - whether you have recently exercised or not - or your joints get dislocated easily, or you get frequent headaches, have trouble sleeping or just feel slightly unstable in any situation where you are asking your joints to bear your weight, then you may have hypermobility syndrome.

Hypermobility syndrome is genetic, it’s an inherited condition. It’s caused by defects in collagen – a major structural protein, forming molecular cables that strengthen the tendons and resilient sheets that support the skin and internal organs. Because there is no cure, sufferers need to be ever vigilant about their symptoms and seek out ways to improve their muscle strength and fitness so that their joints are protected.

How AquaStretch can help with hypermobility strength and endurance

The goal is to find ways to reduce your risk of injury so any form of stretching exercise can help those with hypermobility syndrome. But some people with this issue can find land-based, weight-bearing exercises too painful or difficult. This is where hydrotherapy such as AquaStretch can help.

With AquaStretch your whole body is supported by water, and the buoyancy provided by the water can relax and soothe your muscles, making movement and stretching easier. In water there is less stress on your joints, so the likelihood of aggravating your symptoms or causing a flare-up is reduced.

In an AquaStretch session, I take you through a series of gentle stretching exercises specifically designed to create patterns of movement in different positions which can strengthen the muscles around your joints. We use the natural resistance of the water to help you move more easily.

Here’s what one of my regular clients who has hypermobility syndrome has to say about her AquaStretch sessions:

“When I stretch by myself it’s easy and simple, yet I don’t feel stretched. I am tight and achy in areas that - despite stretching myself - don’t feel eased. When I have had an AquaStretch I have a different feeling. I am stretched, eased of pain but not to the point where I have overstretched, which is vital.”

The movement of the water will challenge your balance and strength, but it will result in you feeling more confident about moving. You will see improvements in your joints that will allow you to go about your daily life with increased stamina, less tension or stress, and improved muscle tone. Not to mention better fitness levels and the self-esteem that goes along with it.

For more information about how AquaStretch works or to book a session please contact me.

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