How Pilates Can Help Ensure That Too Much Flexibility Does Not Cause Pain
I have never been able to do the splits. Not that I ever worked very hard at it, as I never found myself in a sport or activity that required me to do them.
I remember my daughter, who is a dancer, working tirelessly for years to achieve the splits. She would sit on the floor every day pushing herself against the wall in a “Russian- style” splits, holding it for what seems like hours in order to remold her hips to accomplish the ability to do the splits.
As that is what her ballet instructors told her to do. I remember she would come home from ballet class and tell me about how all the other dancers could easily go into the splits without having to work at it.
I am always amazed by people with that kind of flexibility. But what I have discovered in my work over the years is that too much flexibility can cause just as many problems as too little flexibility. Many of us believe if we were just a little bit more flexible we would not have any pain.
Hypermobility is a condition in which a person has a range of movement beyond what would be considered normal. This condition is thought to be due to lax connective tissues. Too much flexibility can lead to movement impairments and muscle imbalances that stress joints, muscles and soft tissues.
Just a few of the problems hypermobility can create are:
- soft tissue trauma
- slow healing
- overuse injuries
- clicky joints
- hip dysplasia
- fallen arches
- Increased risk of sprains
- strained ligaments due to an excessive range of movement • plantar fascitis
- difficulties with proprioception
- coordination difficulties
A hypermobile student may constantly feel the need to stretch, but years of overstretching already-lax ligaments may mean muscles are actually lengthened to the max, like a stretched rubber band. I have found my hypermobile clients usually have challenges with pelvic stabilization and deep core support.
Pilates, when taught correctly, can be beneficial in helping clients, with too much flexibility, avoid some of the pain and dysfunction associated with this condition.
Benefits of Pilates for clients with too much flexibility include:
- Improved strength – many times people compromise strength in order to achieve flexibility
- Improved ability to stabilize the pelvis – Hypermobile clients are greatly challenged to stabilize his/her pelvis.
- Improved proprioception – Clients with too much flexility usually lose their proprioception
- Improved balance
- Improved coordination
Many people with too much flexibility seek out yoga and Pilates classes because they are having pain associated with that excessive mobility and they believe if they just “stretch a little more” the pain will go away. When in all actuality they need to work on strength and stability more than flexibility.
Clients who fit into this category would benefit most from private Pilates training on the equipment to retrain their body to maintain his/her natural flexibility but strengthen so that that excessive mobility doesn’t cause lifelong pain and dysfunction.
ABS Pilates of Sunbury, Ohio, servicing Columbus, Westerville, New Albany and Gahanna, offers private Pilates to help individuals with all sorts of specialized concerns. All sessions are lead by Amanda B. Smith, licensed physical therapist, certified Pilates instructor and certified Group Exercise instructor with more than 25 years of experience.
Contact me today and feel stronger tomorrow.