Strength training with hypermobility

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Hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) are conditions characterized by joint hyperflexibility and connective tissue laxity, often leading to instability, chronic pain, and functional limitations. As a physical therapist, I’ve witnessed the profound impact of these conditions on individuals’ lives and the crucial role that strength training plays in managing symptoms and improving quality of life. In this blog, we’ll explore why strength training is essential for individuals with hypermobility and EDS, discussing its benefits, considerations, and practical tips for incorporating it into a comprehensive rehabilitation program.

Understanding Hypermobility and EDS

Hypermobility refers to an increased range of motion in one or more joints beyond what is considered normal, while EDS is a group of hereditary connective tissue disorders characterized by joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility. Both conditions can lead to joint instability, chronic pain, and musculoskeletal issues, making strength training an essential component of management and rehabilitation.

Benefits of Strength Training with Hypermobility

  • Joint Stability: Strengthening the muscles surrounding hypermobile joints helps improve stability and reduces the risk of subluxations and dislocations.
  • Muscle Support: Strong muscles provide additional support to vulnerable joints, helping distribute forces more evenly and reducing strain on ligaments and tendons.
  • Enhanced Proprioception: Strength training exercises that focus on balance and coordination can improve proprioception, or the body’s awareness of joint position and movement, helping individuals better control their movements and prevent injury.
  • Pain Management: Strengthening weak muscles can help alleviate stress on hypermobile joints, reducing pain and improving functional capacity.
  • Improved Functional Mobility: Building strength and endurance enables individuals with hypermobility and EDS to perform daily activities with greater ease and confidence, enhancing overall quality of life.

Considerations for Strength Training with Hypermobility

While strength training offers numerous benefits for individuals with hypermobility and EDS, there are several considerations to keep in mind:

  • Start Slowly: Begin with low-intensity exercises and gradually progress as tolerated, taking care to avoid overexertion or exacerbating symptoms.
  • Focus on Form: Emphasize proper technique and alignment during exercises to ensure safe and effective muscle activation without compromising joint integrity.
  • Individualized Approach: Tailor strength training programs to meet the specific needs and capabilities of each individual, taking into account factors such as joint laxity, pain levels, and previous injury history.
  • Balance Flexibility and Strength: While flexibility is beneficial for maintaining joint range of motion, it’s essential to strike a balance between flexibility and strength to prevent joint instability and injury.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to exercise and adjust intensity, frequency, and duration accordingly to avoid overuse injuries or exacerbating symptoms.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Strength Training

  • Focus on Compound Movements: Incorporate multi-joint exercises such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts to target multiple muscle groups simultaneously and improve overall functional strength.
  • Use Resistance Bands or Body Weight: Resistance bands and body weight exercises are excellent options for individuals with hypermobility and EDS, as they allow for controlled resistance without placing excessive stress on joints.
  • Include Stability Exercises: Incorporate balance and stability exercises, such as single-leg stands or stability ball exercises, to improve joint proprioception and enhance stability.
  • Gradually Increase Intensity: Progressively increase the intensity and resistance of exercises over time to continue challenging muscles and promoting strength gains.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with a physical therapist or certified strength and conditioning specialist who has experience working with individuals with hypermobility and EDS to develop a safe and effective strength training program tailored to your needs.


In conclusion, strength training is a cornerstone of management and rehabilitation for individuals with hypermobility and EDS, offering numerous benefits for joint stability, pain management, and functional mobility. By incorporating targeted strength training exercises into a comprehensive rehabilitation program, individuals can improve muscle support, enhance joint stability, and reduce the risk of injury, empowering them to lead more active and fulfilling lives. With proper guidance, patience, and a focus on gradual progression, individuals with hypermobility and EDS can harness the transformative power of strength training to overcome challenges and thrive.

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