You have these adorable kids that can do these amazing things...but some of the things might not be good for them.
What we are talking about is when angles in the joints pass their healthy range of motion. For example in the knee joint, passing 180 degree (looks like the knee is bowing toward the back) or more common, the elbows passing 180 degrees. This can happen to any joint (hands, toes, ankles, shoulders…)
Here are some images to get a better idea of what hyper-laxity looks like:
Why does Hyperlaxity matter?
- Kids with hyper lax joints are more prone for pain and injury (and of course they grow into adults who are also more prone).
- If your child has hyper lax joints, (s)he is likely weaker and have less effective muscles. (S)he will become more tired than a child without hyper lax muscles. This is important to understand because (s)he may have trouble keeping up, walking long distances, writing for extended periods.
- These kids likely have poor balance and coordination.
- Most people with hyper lax joints tend to fidget a lot because they are uncomfortable and fatigue in one position.
How can you change your child’s habit in the most non-scarring, my parent is-not-always-nagging-me-way.
Hyperlaxity is when the LIGAMENTS of the joints are too loose, stretched out and hence the joint surpasses its safe and strongest position. Hyperlax joints tend to make people look “flexible” but in reality the muscles are not flexible, the joints are lax. There is a big difference. A joint that is hyper-lax is getting overworked over and over again while the muscles are on vacation. This is what puts the ligaments of the joint in danger.
The best way to help protect these joints is to strengthen the muscles around them and to teach your child how to recognize when they are utilizing their ligaments during movement.
If you have these hyper lax joints, you should not apply high loads to your body. Intense sports, running, and repetitive motions are all dangerous for lax joints.
All of us with hyper-mobile joints can learn how to isolate the muscles around the joint and strengthen them, which will in turn help to stabilize the joint. Once the joint is surrounded by lots of strong *aligned* muscles, we can increase the loads on it, but not before.
How can we help our kids strengthen their bodies, and not worsen the condition?
We have to be the example. We need to sit on the floor demonstrating core strength sitting. Or we need to provide education on “bending the elbows or knees a bit” to get back to a neutral, STRONGER position.
They will resist, because it will feel more challenging. They will be using muscles that they were not using before. Those muscles are not conditioned and so it will be harder and more tiring for them. But they will be building strength just by doing it.
There are many degrees of hypermobility/hyperlaxity and some are much more serious then others. If you are concerned, you should talk with your child’s doctor.
If you have questions, I am always happy to help, email me.