Q: What are the best ways to strengthen hips, shoulders, midback, and neck when one has hypermobility syndrome?
Hypermobility syndrome is characterized by excessive joint motion and joint instability. Normally, muscles and ligaments help ensure joint stability. When those tissues are too lax, their ability to stabilize joints is compromised. Loose muscles and ligaments allow for more wear and tear on the joints than normal. This can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis, the most prevalent form of arthritis.
If you suffer from hypermobility syndrome, engage in activities that strengthen your muscles. Stronger muscles are better equipped to protect the joints they surround. They provide more stability, thus decreasing not only joint wear and tear, but also your risk for joint displacement. Strengthening exercises are those that involve working with resistance, such as weight lifting, medicine balls and tension bands.
In general, you want to avoid stretching hyperflexible muscles any further. Instead, concentrate on isometric or concentric strengthening exercises. In isometric exercise, the joint doesn't actually move, even though the muscles around it are contracting.
Prioritize strengthening the muscles surrounding the most susceptible joints: your shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. Also focus on strengthening your core muscles in your lower back, abdomen, pelvis and hips, because they protect your spine. By stabilizing your entire body, a strong core also lessens the load on the most susceptible joints, reducing the chance for injury there as well.