Holding Yourself Together – Proprioception

As has been discussed previously on this blog, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and hypermobility can affect both the body and mind in significant ways. What was not significantly discussed was how to address EDS. With regards to treating psychological issues, that’s generally beyond the scope of physical therapy and is best suited to be addressed by a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. For the majority of physical issues, especially those relating to pain and movement, physical therapy is the best choice. So how does that look?

As mentioned previously, one of the biggest issues with hypermobility is the lack of proprioception or the body’s awareness of position. One of the nice things about the body is that most of our physical functions can be improved, and proprioception is no different. There are a few factors that are helpful for developing effective proprioception.

How to Develop Effective Proprioception:

  • Train for time – Proprioception tells you about static positioning, so it’s important to be able to maintain a position for longer periods of time.  If we look at a plank as an example, you should be able to maintain your head, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in a straight line.  Being able to maintain that line demonstrates sufficient strength and the awareness to appropriately coordinate your body.  Training for time allows you to stress your muscle tissues to improve their ability to sustain positions.
  • Form matters – This cannot be emphasized enough.  Understanding the position that our body is supposed to be in helps you prevent positions that are more likely to lead to injury.  Using a plank again as an example, if your low back stays excessively sagging down the entire time, you’re not fully engaging the proper muscles that are going to help you hold positions for more functional activities like carrying stuff, lifting stuff off the floor, or lifting stuff overhead.
  • Make your exercises relevant to you – While it’s always (yes, always) important to regularly exercise the major muscle groups throughout the body, people with EDS are usually going to have a specific problem area or areas.  Regardless of whether you’re dealing with arm, leg, or trunk pain, you should probably be doing some tailored core training. To make the exercises relevant, consider where your weaknesses are and what you have problems doing.  A runner who gets low back pain from running should probably be working on their trunk and legs. A swimmer who gets shoulder pain should probably be working on their trunk and arms.

It’s important to point out that hypermobility occurs along a spectrum, and this advice is generalized. To the people on the far end of the hypermobility spectrum, you will likely require specialized care/guidance to help manage the issues you have. Again, the best way to deal with these issues is physical therapy.

If you are having difficulty applying these concepts effectively, the solution isn’t going to surprise you.  See a physical therapist!

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to discover your future without limits.

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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