Every structure in our body struggles to maintain an optimum balance between stability and mobility. The more stable a structure becomes, the less mobile it becomes. The more mobile a structure becomes, the less stable it becomes. Good examples are the shoulder and the hip. The shoulder is a very mobile joint, capable of a multitude of joint actions in a vast range of motion. In order to achieve this mobility, stability is sacrificed; hence the tendency toward injuries such as separation, dislocation and rotator cuff pathologies. The hip, on the other hand, is extremely stable but not particularly mobile. The hip rarely dislocates, ligament injuries are few and far between and range of motion is limited.
Some individuals find themselves hypermobile (excessively mobile) due to performing activities such as yoga, Pilates, and stretching disproportionately to traditional strength training exercises. Others find themselves hypermobile not due to their choice of activities but rather they have genetics to thank. To determine if you’re hypermobile, try the Beighton Test:
The Beighton Test consists of 5 assessments. First, try to pull each thumb to your wrist. Give yourself one point for each successful side. Second, lock both knees. Give yourself one point for each knee that extends beyond straight. Third, lock both elbows. Give yourself one point for each elbow that extends beyond straight. Fourth, bend each little finger backwards toward the wrist. Give yourself one point for each side you’re able to bend to 90 degrees or more. Lastly, keeping your knees locked, try to put both palms flat on the ground. Give yourself one point if successful. A score of 4 or more out of a possible 9 is generally considered indicative of hypermobility.
If you find you do indeed exhibit hypermobility, you should minimize activities such as stretching, yoga, and Pilates and focus more on resistance training to increase your muscle tension so as to increase your joint stability. Once you manage to find that stability / mobility balance, your body will thank you for it.