Hypermobility, Dance and Injury Risk – Part 2/2
Proprioception, however, is not the only reason that people with hypermobility may experience more fatigue. The second reason is related to the ways in which our bodies stabilise our joints, especially during movement. There are two main processes by which our bodies do this:
- Active stabilisation – The muscles surrounding a joint will contract to maintain stability.
- Passive stabilisation – our ligaments and joint capsules (connective tissues) will become tight under tension; mechanically limiting how far we are able to move the joint and helping to maintain stability.
These two processes usually work together, maintaining stability in our bodies without too much pressure ever being applied to a single type of tissue. However, the connective tissue produced by hypermobile people has greater elasticity, causing their ligaments and joint capsules to be extra stretchy. This means that these components of the passive system are likely to be less effective in their role of stabilising the body, leaving the muscles of the active system to pick up the slack.
Again, this may not seem like too much of a problem at first glance, until we consider that the passive stabilisation system requires no energy, whereas the active system – which relies on muscular contractions – does. Over time, this increased energy use can again lead to fatigue, but the long-term increase in demand on the muscles can also lead to other problems, such as pain and tightness. Hypermobile people are at greater risk of experiencing bodily pain, and this, alongside the increased risk of injury that comes with fatigue, are believed to be the reasons.
So, what happens to the hypermobile dance students?
Now that we have covered some of the issues that hypermobility brings, the answer to the original question starts to become clear. Dance, with its high energy, dynamic demands, combined with the intense training schedules and competitive nature of dance schools, is already an activity with a relatively high injury rate. Add to this the increased risk of fatigue-based burnout and injury risk that comes with hypermobility, and the chance of a hypermobile student progressing for long enough to reach the professional ranks begins to look slim, especially in a world where these issues are not widely understood. The statistics would indicate that this is a big problem, and one that is poorly managed in many places. However, this does not have to be the case. With appropriate treatment, including scheduling, targeted training plans and effective therapy, the hypermobile dancer can thrive. In our next article we will look at ways to make this happen, so check back soon to hear how.
Link to Part 1: Hypermobility, Dance and Injury Risk
Posted on 5th December 2022