What is the difference between Hypermobility and Flexibility?

Often people get a little confused between these two things, or think that they are one and the same. But there is actually quite a difference between the two.

You can be Hypermobile and not Flexible, or Flexible and not Hypermobile, or both together or neither!

Hypermobility relates more to the mobility in your joints due to the tension in the ligaments supporting them, while Flexibility is more about the total range of movement that you have in your body, which depends on the amount of tension in your muscles, fascia and nervous system.

Around each of our joints are strong bands of connective tissue called ligaments that help hold our bones together. (Remember that ligaments attach bone to bone, while tendons attach muscle to bone). In some people these ligaments are very tight, while in others they are quite stretchy. If a person has very stretchy or “lax” ligaments we call this Hypermobility. This means that the amount of movement available in their joints is more than for a person who has tight ligaments. The mobility of the ligaments does not change very rapidly over time. However as we age, if the joints are not moved regularly, the ligaments may stiffen a little.

Some people are mobile in just one or two joints, while some people have excessive mobility everywhere! (There is a special test to see how hypermobile you are called The Beighton Scale that gives you a value out of 9).

Note that Hypermobility is very different to Flexibility. Flexibility is more about your muscles (and other soft tissues) and how much they can lengthen to allow you to move your body through a full range of motion. This can change very rapidly, whereas your Hypermobility will not. While Hypermobility is usually genetically linked, we all have the capability to change our flexibility if we work on the right things.

You may feel tight in your muscles one day and loose the next, due to the amount of exercise you are doing, trauma from overstretching, changes in the temperature or hormonal change.

The one big myth that I feel needs to be changed is that flexibility is all about your muscles. There are so many other systems that contribute to the amount of flexibility you feel in your body, so it is important that any flexibility routine that you do cover all bases. Make sure that there are exercises that contribute to your neural mobility, fascial tension, dynamic flexibility and strength and the power of your mind over your body, as well as static stretches.

Discover the real flexibility that is inside you today!

Front Splits Fast!

One Response to “What is the difference between Hypermobility and Flexibility?”

  1. Nora Says:

    I know this is irrelevant, but what can I do to get my feet more flexible? I have a normal arch, the problem is the range of motion in my ankle. My forefoot isn’t very flexible either. My foot flexibility would actually be fine if not for my hyperextended knees.

    Hi Nora,

    There is actually a number of massage techniques and stretches that you can do to help improve your pointe range. You would actually find The Perfect Pointe Book a great tool to help increase your pointe range. This book has been specifically designed to give you the best possible pointe and includes tests, various stretches and strengthening exercises. CLICK HERE to check it out.

    Hope this helps,

    Kind Regards

    Alex
    Physiotherapist for dancers

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