Joint Hypermobility in Children
Have you been told that your child is hypermobile or double jointed? Are you concerned that your child is hypermobile? Don’t panic this is a very common situation and gymnastics can really help your child
What is it?
Instead of having muscles that are too tight, people with hyper mobility are often too flexible. They are able to extend their joints and flex their muscles beyond the normal range. It’s important to think of all the bones, muscle, and connective tissue around each joint as an integrated system that relies on the health of other joints. Ankle joints connect to the knee joints. Knee joints connect to the hip joints. if a single joint does not work properly, the joints above and below it can be affected.
Hypermobility affects girls more than boys and for the most part does not cause any problems. It can even be considered to be advantageous in certain activities such as ballet and gymnastics, where increased flexibility is required to excel.
Flexibility is the absolute range of motion in a joint or system of joints, and the length of muscle that crosses the joint involved.
Mobility within a joint is the degree to which the area where two bones meet (known as an articulation) is allowed to move before restricted by the surrounding tissue such as tendons, muscle, and ligaments. Think of mobility as the range of uninhibited motion around the joint.
Mobility relates to movement while stability relates to control. Stability is defined as the ability to maintain control of joint movement or position by coordinating actions of surrounding tissues and the neuromuscular system.
How to improve the tone in muscles with lax connective tissues?
The only way to improve the tone in muscles with lax connective tissue is by strengthening the muscle which will increase the stiffness in the connective tissue that forms the tendons and myofascia. Encourage your child to take part in regular low impact strengthening activities such as swimming, children’s yoga, walking or gymnastics.
- Start with stabilising the core of the back and abdominal muscles. Gymnastics is fantastic for helping with this, a lot of the basic fundamental shapes children learn in their first few weeks focus on this. Many gymnasts take part in low conditioning exercises without realising. The photos below are key examples of this
- If a child does have hyper mobility in their joints the primary focus of an movement program should be motor skill (learning how to isolate and control fine movements). Move well first, then move more. Gymnastics also provides this as you can see from the fundamental gymnastics shapes photos shown below
- Their co-ordination is often very poor and they appear gangly. This is because they don’t have enough control over their limbs and often fall as a result.’ Gymnastics is fantastic for helping children with coordinating their whole body, for example to learn skills like cartwheels involves legs, arms, hands and feet all working at the same time to perform it correctly.
View our Key Core Gymnastics Shapes Video which helps children stabilise lax ligaments