Bodybuilding not only requires strength, but also adequate mobility. The usual focus is to include exercises that aim to increase this. However, some of us need to work in the opposite direction as far as mobility is concerned.
What is hypermobility?
Hypermobility is a syndrome affecting connective tissue. It leads to a weakness of wrists, shoulders, ankles or any other joints. When you have this issue, all you can do is to spare them, because there is no other solution. The issue is the result of a gene mutation that makes connective tissue stretchier than it should be. Bench presses and similar exercises put a significant strain on your wrists for example, and thus you risk injury.
Hypermobility can affect people at all times throughout the day or only when lifting.
Activities to avoid
Individuals affected of hypermobility experience excessive joint movement and a lack of stability when exercising. It feels like you cannot control your movements as you’re supposed to and that you can’t train as much as needed because of this. If a physiotherapist says you have hypermobility, don’t panic. You can still have an active lifestyle and train at the gym. The right type of sports for you is low-impact exercise that lets you be in control easily and keep your joints stable. It’s best to rely mostly on your body weight as you exercise, until you can safely make the transition to weights. Also, you may need to avoid cardio exercise, like running, if it’s too much of an impact for your ligaments. In addition, you definitely need to avoid movements meant to increase flexibility.
Until you can fully commit to gym training, you must strengthen your muscles and ligaments by swimming, dancing and gymnastics. You need to focus on workouts that strengthen the muscles connected to your weak joints, so that these joints become able to support the movement. As you progress to adding weights, use common muscle building exercises but perform these without using the whole range of movement you are capable of. You want to avoid pushing your joints that far.
Ways to support and strengthen weak joints
- Wraps can help to a certain extent. Ankle braces, wrist and knee wraps can be very useful in many cases. Athletic tape is also used in many such situations as basic support. For extra support and reliability, you may wish to try workout gloves (when you have troubles with your wrists).
- Exercises to strengthen the ligaments – through tendon and ligament training. Pay attention to what power lifters are doing to make their ligaments stronger.
- Exercises that stress the big muscle groups: do squats, dead lifts, barbell shoulder presses and bent rowing but only with a short range of motion.
- Make your core muscles stronger. This is essential to providing support to the rest of your body. Thus, you will be relying less on wrists, elbows and knees for example, as your strong core muscles will be able to handle the load.
Even when you have the hypermobility syndrome, you can still experience the desired muscle gains, as long as you train in the right order.
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