Bendy is Beautiful . . .or is it?
Wouldn’t it be great to flow as gracefully as a ballet dancer or be able to move as easily as a competitive gymnast? You might even be envious of what your yoga or Pilates teacher can do with their bodies. However, there is a down side to being so bendy in that you have to work really hard to maintain the muscular strength to hold everything together.
There are also some folk whose flexibility has become something of a curse because they are effectively too bendy. Apparently 10 to 15% of the general population exhibit some hypermobility whereby their joints move beyond the normal range. This might affect just the small joints of the fingers or toes or it might be more generalised throughout the body. In the majority of people it’s not a problem but for some it’s associated with recurrent strain and soft tissue injuries, joint instability and pain. This is where being bendy becomes a problem.
So how can you tell if you potentially have a problem with joint hypermobility? Recently a series of questions have been put together as a way of screening for generalised hypermobility.
1. Can you now (or could you ever) place your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees?
2. Can you now (or could you ever) bend your thumb to touch your forearm?
3. As a child did you amuse your friends by contorting your body into strange shapes or could you do the splits? (A party trick?)
4. As a child or teenager did your shoulder or kneecap dislocate on more than one occasion?
5. Do you consider yourself double-jointed?
Apparently if you can answer ‘yes’ to two or more of the above questions there’s an 85% chance that you are hypermobile.
It’s been useful to have this questionnaire approach to diagnosis as some patients have found that the usual physical assessment involving bending joints manually to test flexibility can be either painful at the time or painful after the assessment.
So where does Osteopathy come into all this? We tend to get involve when the system breaks down. It’s pain that will initially bring a patient to our door because something has been strained or an area has tightened up in reaction to a movement that might have been pushed too far.
Our job as Osteopaths is to get you out of trouble but also give you ideas as to how to better manage the problem to prevent a recurrence.
In cases of hypermobility strength is needed to hold things together and unfortunately we can’t give you strength but we can advice you as to how to achieve it if you’re prepared to put in the work.« back