I can't even touch my toes..
"I can't even touch my toes" is something I hear often in regards to people's complaints about their flexibility or lack thereof. It would surprise most people to know that the ability to touch your toes is a sign of hypermobility or of too much mobility. It's a part of the beighton score which is used as a diagnostic tool for hypermobility. Too much mobility may not be a good thing despite it being held in such high regard particularly in yoga circles and this ability appears to get you lots of likes and followers on Instagram. People with hypermobility tend to flock to yoga classes because they are "good at it." Meaning they have the flexibility to contortion their bodies into pretzel like shapes with ease and grace. The truth is people with hypermobility don't need the stretching component or the extreme end ranges of motion that many "advanced" yoga postures require and over the long term can be doing more damage to their body than good. People with hypermobility generally have poor proprioception which is the ability to sense where your body is in space, in order to sense and get sensory feedback they have to take their joints into excessive ranges of motion where they are stretching into already lax ligaments. Lax ligaments are not a good thing they keep you connected to parts you want to stay connected to and once they are lax there's no going back. The good news is we don't need to be able to touch our feet with our hands there are other more functional ways to pick things up off the ground by bending your knees and squatting and strengthening the posterior chain of your body while you are at it. If you do have the signs of hypermobility I wouldn't recommend taking your joints to passive and excessive end ranges of motion and I would highly recommend to build in strengthening and stability work to stabilise and strengthen the supporting structures.
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Advanced clinical massage therapist and yoga teacher.