Hypermobility vs flexibility


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In the realm of physical health and movement, terms like “hypermobility” and “flexibility” are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion about their meanings and implications. As a physical therapist, I frequently encounter individuals seeking clarification on the differences between hypermobility and flexibility. In this blog, we’ll delve into the nuances of these concepts, exploring their definitions, characteristics, and implications for overall health and well-being.

Understanding Hypermobility vs Flexibility

Before delving into the differences between hypermobility and flexibility, let’s establish clear definitions for each term:


Hypermobility refers to an excessive movement in one or more joints beyond what is considered normal for an individual’s age, gender, and physical condition. It is typically assessed using standardized clinical tests such as the joint testing and Beighton score, which evaluates joint flexibility in specific regions of the body. Hypermobility is often associated with a genetic predisposition and may be present from birth or develop over time due to factors such as lax ligaments, connective tissue disorders, or joint hypermobility syndrome.


Flexibility, on the other hand, refers to the ability of muscles and connective tissues to lengthen and stretch effectively. Flexibility can vary widely among individuals and is influenced by factors such as genetics, age, activity level, and training. Flexibility is typically assessed through a series of flexibility tests targeting specific muscle groups.

Characteristics of hypermobility vs flexibility

While hypermobility and flexibility both involve range of motion, there are several key distinctions between the two:

  • Range of Motion:
    • Hypermobility: In hypermobile individuals, joints may move beyond the normal range of motion, sometimes to the point of instability or vulnerability to injury.
    • Flexibility: Flexibility refers to the capacity of muscles and connective tissues to stretch and lengthen, allowing for a full range of motion without exceeding physiological limits.
  • Joint Stability:
    • Hypermobility: Excessive joint laxity in hypermobile individuals can lead to decreased joint stability and an increased risk of dislocations, subluxations, and musculoskeletal injuries.
    • Flexibility: While flexibility contributes to joint mobility and function, it does not necessarily compromise joint stability when maintained within a healthy range.
  • Genetic Factors:
    • Hypermobility: Hypermobility is often genetically determined and may be present from birth or develop over time due to inherited connective tissue disorders or other underlying conditions.
    • Flexibility: While genetics may influence an individual’s baseline level of flexibility, flexibility can be improved or maintained through regular stretching and conditioning exercises, regardless of genetic predisposition.


Understanding the differences between hypermobility and flexibility is essential for promoting optimal musculoskeletal health and preventing injury. While flexibility is generally regarded as beneficial for joint mobility and function, hypermobility may pose risks if not managed appropriately. Individuals with hypermobility may benefit from targeted strength training, proprioceptive exercises, and joint stabilization techniques to mitigate the risk of instability and injury. Conversely, individuals with limited flexibility may benefit from stretching and mobility exercises to improve their range of motion and prevent musculoskeletal restrictions.


In conclusion, while hypermobility and flexibility are related concepts involving joint movement and range of motion, they are distinct entities with unique characteristics and implications for health and well-being. By understanding the differences between hypermobility and flexibility, individuals can better assess their own movement patterns, identify potential risk factors, and implement appropriate strategies to promote musculoskeletal health and optimize functional mobility. As a physical therapist, I am committed to educating and empowering individuals to achieve optimal movement and wellness through tailored interventions and evidence-based practices.

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