Managing Training Load With Hypermobility

In the last article, we discussed the challenges that hypermobility can cause for dancers. Now we will look at ways that these issues can be overcome. Although written with performers in mind, these recommendations apply equally to everyone, so if you are affected by hypermobility this will still be very relevant.

Training Load
The term “load” relates to the overall amount of effort your activities require, and can be thought about as how much strain you are putting on your body. This is often broken down in to three parts.

1.Frequency – How often you are doing the activity, usually measured in the number of times per week you do it.

2.Duration – How long each individual session lasts, usually measured in minutes.

3.Intensity – This relates to the type of exercise you are doing and the level of effort that particular activity requires. For example, sprints would be higher intensity than walking. Can be measured in several ways, including average heart rate or calories burned per hour.

Each of these three factors can be increased or decreased to alter your overall training load, and understanding this principle is very important for both improving your performance, and staying injury free.

Dance training often involves very long, high intensity training sessions up to 6 or 7 times per week, meaning that the training load is very high. As discussed in the previous two articles (links here), hypermobile people have to work even harder to stabilise themselves throughout this training, meaning that the load they are experiencing is even higher.

Tissue Tolerance
This has nothing to do with blowing your nose! In this case, the tissues in question are structures such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and even bones, all of which will have a limit on how much load they can handle. This limit is different for every person, based on factors such as age, build, fitness level and even psychological factors such as stress, and can be increased with good training. Injuries tend to happen when training load becomes greater than tissue tolerance, so understanding these concepts and managing them correctly is crucial for both athletes and non-athletes alike.

For hypermobile dancers, this may mean adjusting your schedule to include more time for recovery, or swapping out flexibility classes (which you likely won’t need anyway) for strengthening sessions. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to keep up with the amount of training that others are doing, with the fear that you will fall behind if you don’t. But hypermobile athletes need to play the long game, and realise that their chances of making it are actually significantly higher if they play it smart and remain injury free.
For hypermobile people in general, this means listening to your body and understanding when it is appropriate to be active, and when you need to rest and focus on recovery. The type of activity you choose to do will be crucial too, which we will explore further in an upcoming blog.

Other Things to Consider
Of course, training load and tissue tolerance are not the only factors at play here, and there are a lot of things you can do to help to reduce your risk of injury. Think of these as “easy wins”, as they are all within your control:

• Diet – A huge number of people do not get enough protein in their diet. This is crucial for your recovery, as it is this protein that your body uses to repair itself after exercise.

• Sleep – Studies repeatedly show that getting more sleep massively reduces your injury risk, so prioritise this as much as you can.

• Mental wellbeing – Stress can negatively affect recovery, so doing things that help you to unwind is very important. This does not necessarily mean meditation, although it is effective for a lot of people. Walking, reading, listening to music, or even knitting have all been shown to be effective, so it is really about finding something that works for you.

For more information of managing your hypermobile body, feel free to get in touch and talk to our expert team.

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