Is yoga bad for hypermobility syndrome?
"Yoga is bad for hypermobility. Yoga is just about the worst exercise for people with hypermobility syndrome. Or for me, at least. I’ll try not to generalize. Although I am. Clearly." | Photo Credit ©master1305 / Adobe Stock
Is yoga bad for hypermobility syndrome?
If you tell me to do yoga one more ****ing time, I will bite your face off.
Okay, maybe not your entire face, but I can’t promise that I won’t relieve you of a small chunk of your face. Just a nibble.
Oh. You haven’t had your face bitten off before? Well, then how do you know you don’t like it?! Maybe you’ll love it!
Maybe you just haven’t found the right face-biter.
Maybe you haven’t found the right kind of face biting for you. I promise you. You’ll love it, and it will be so good for you!
I can guarantee this sounds familiar if you have a chronic pain condition.
Maybe you need to find the right kind of yoga for hypermobility syndrome
To all the people who have pressed me to do yoga over the years, let me tell you — the right kind of yoga for me is not-yoga.
The last time I struck a yoga pose, I dislocated my knee, damaged the cartilage irreparably, and got stuck with a limp that still comes back sometimes.
The time before that, I hurt my shoulder.
The time before that, I don’t exactly remember what happened because I fainted from the intolerable pain.
‘Why?’ you might ask.
Hypermobility and yoga: I have hypermobility syndrome.
As you would have guessed by now, I have hypermobility syndrome means that my body’s collagen is all messed up. Collagen is basically what holds a person together. So, imagine a brick wall stuck together with chewing gum instead of cement. That’s me. That’s hypermobility syndrome.
So, to answer the question, is yoga bad for hypermobility syndrome. The short answer is yes, yoga is bad for hypermobility. Yoga is just about the worst exercise for people with hypermobility syndrome.
Or for me, at least. I’ll try not to generalize. Although I am. Clearly.
I’m already too stretchy, and my body can’t support those stretches properly. And yet still, and despite explaining this over and over again, it feels like there is an actual conspiracy to make me do yoga.
It isn’t your place to tell me about yoga and hypermobility syndrome (unless I ask)
Even if yoga was super helpful for hypermobility syndrome — and I’m sure it has been for many people— it’s not your place to keep rattling on about it. I didn’t ask you to tell me about yoga.
By all means, if I say, ‘I’m at the end of my rope, and I need to start some exercises, do you have any recommendations?’ — tell me about yoga. Tell me about how yoga is the perfect cure-all for hypermobility syndrome.
In the meantime, if I didn't ask you, just don’t for yoga down my throat. As many people with any chronic pain disorder can tell you, if it is supposed to help, we’ve probably tried it.
I think that’s why it bothers me so much when people recommend yoga — or anything else — as a kind of miracle fix that will make my hypermobility syndrome so much better.
Who are you to assume that I haven’t tried hard enough? Who are you to believe that you know what’s good for me and my hypermobility syndrome? Have you done any research on whether or not yoga is bad for hypermobility syndrome?
I have. I know that yoga is not contraindicated for hypermobility syndrome; indeed, it can be a healthy activity for some people. But not all. If you someone has or suspects that they have hypermobility syndrome, it’s important to that they know the risks of yoga.
Because a large number of yoga poses require multiple joints to move beyond what’s considered to be a healthy, functional range of motion. And for people with hypermobility syndrome, exploitation of a range of yoga poses plus repetition of those poses leads to damaged cartilage, inflammation, arthritis, and/or chronic pain.
It isn’t just about yoga or hypermobility syndrome
Most people with chronic pain are faced with the false idea that they are still in pain because they haven’t done enough to help themselves.
And this false idea is really disheartening. It is toxic positivity. I mean, why can’t people accept that my body isn’t getting better
People who don’t live with chronic pain issues often like to believe there is something to be done, perhaps because they’d like to think in the same situation, they would get better.
It feels like people who don’t live with these problems fail to understand there isn’t an easy fix. There is just pain management.
Look — I know that yoga isn’t good for me, or my hypermobility syndrome, and yet every couple of years, I give it a go and fuck myself up. Why? Because everyone else seems to think it’s a great idea.
When I am deep in pain, I get desperate. I do things I know won’t help or have little chance of helping. I drink apple cider vinegar. Bicarbonate of soda. Lemon juice. I try Pilates. I stop Pilates. I go gluten-free. I stop eating sugar. I walk more. I walk too fast. I walk less. I don’t walk at all. I try yoga.
Eventually, the pain of hypermobility syndrome subsides because, thankfully, in my case, that is just what it does.
When I am in that dark place, I need real support. So you want to help with my hypermobility pain? Ask me what I need from you. I’ll give you a clue — it has nothing to do with yoga. So stop telling me to do yoga!
Miriam Swallow Adler
Miriam Swallow Adler. the author of "Is yoga bad for hypermobility syndrome?" is a tired young person who writes, sings, and illustrates things while moonlighting as an Oxford University student.