#295 - Hypermobile Joints- What Are They and How Can You Provide Support?

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC February 13, 2024

#295 - Hypermobile Joints- What Are They and How Can You Provide Support?

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Hypermobile Joints- What Are They and How Can You Provide Support?

What are hypermobile joints? Who can they affect? What are the functional implications?

We dive into these questions, the research, and some information that will be helpful if your child or your clients have hypermobile joints. We also talk about some of the challenges that can be associated with hypermobility.

Things like strength training, swimming, nutrition, and finding the right footwear are just a few of the strategies we talk about.

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Muscle Tone vs. Muscle Strength

About Joint Hypermobility

Prevalence of Joint Hypermobility in Children

DCD and Joint Hypermobility

Mind Pump Fitness




Hypermobile Joints: What Are They And How Can You Provide Support

Recently, a parent who is also a member of our customer service team raised a question regarding her child's hypermobile joints and whether there is a link to primitive reflexes. It sparked an interest in understanding hypermobility and how it can impact a child's development.

Understanding Hypermobility in Joints

Hypermobility is characterized by an extensively wide range of joint motion, which may or may not be accompanied by noticeable symptoms. While some individuals with hypermobile joints experience no adverse effects, others may suffer from pain, discomfort, and an elevated risk of injuries.

This condition is most commonly found in young children and tends to decrease with age. However, it can also persist into adulthood and potentially last a lifetime. A combination of factors, including genetics, connective tissue disorders, and repetitive physical activities, can influence the onset of hypermobility.

Prevalence Of Hypermobility

Studies focusing on school-aged children reveal that 30% to 50% are affected by hypermobility. Younger children's fast-paced growth and development require increased joint mobility to accommodate their rapid physical transformations.

However, when individuals reach adulthood and achieve full physical maturity, the necessity for extensive joint mobility decreases. Typically, hypermobility does not necessitate medical treatment, as it frequently exhibits no symptoms.

What Leads To Hypermobility

Research indicates a correlation between hypermobility and various chronic conditions among certain children, including pain, musculoskeletal complications, and developmental coordination delays. Notably, a significant link exists between joint hypermobility and Developmental Coordination Disorder.

Understanding the root cause is critical, especially because increased joint laxity heightens the risk of injuries, such as sprains and dislocations. This relates to the effects of hypermobility on health, which may encompass:

  • Joint pain
  • Heightened risk of injuries
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced endurance
  • Impaired coordination, especially in relation to Developmental Coordination Disorder.
  • Digestive problems and incontinence
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Constipation
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Low muscle tone

Hypermobility And Retained Primitive Reflexes

Some studies suggest a correlation between hypermobility and retained primitive reflexes. These reflexes are typically present during infancy and should become integrated as the child grows. However, in individuals with hypermobile joints, they may persist into childhood and adulthood.

Retained primitive reflexes can impact motor skills, coordination, and balance, which are already affected by hypermobility. This further highlights the need for proper support and management of both conditions to promote optimal development and functioning.

How Can You Provide Support?

Should you or your child possess hypermobile joints, multiple strategies exist to offer support and effectively manage this condition:

  • Strengthening exercises: Building muscle strength can help stabilize the joints and prevent injury. Activities like swimming, yoga, and pilates can be beneficial.
  • Physical therapy: Working with a physical therapist can help develop a personalized exercise plan to strengthen and stabilize the affected joints.
  • Joint protection: It's important to avoid overextending or straining hypermobile joints. Assistive devices, such as wrist braces or knee sleeves, can also support physical activity.
  • Proper footwear: Wearing shoes with good arch support and cushioning can help alleviate joint pain and discomfort in the feet and ankles.
  • Avoiding high-impact activities: Activities that strain the joints, such as running and high-intensity sports, should be avoided or modified to prevent further damage.
  • Seeking medical advice: If you are experiencing persistent joint pain or have difficulty performing daily tasks due to hypermobile joints, it's essential to seek medical advice. A doctor can provide proper diagnosis and treatment options if necessary.

Improving Hypermobility Management with Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) is a crucial resource for those managing hypermobility. It guides individuals in the correct utilization of their joints and muscles to achieve peak performance. Moreover, OT assists in overcoming any developmental or motor challenges associated with hypermobility, including issues with fine motor skills or balance.

It utilizes specific strategies, such as:

  • Use a vibration plate like the HyperVibe to enhance your proprioceptive awareness.
  • Balance exercises such as standing on one foot on either a foam pad or solid surface improve joint strength and stability. Keeping your knees properly aligned is important, preventing them from collapsing inward.
  • Avoid fully rotating externally and w-sitting to maintain proper posture and balance.
  • If your child exhibits behaviors such as sitting on one knee with the other leg bent and their head resting on it, lying face down with their head directly on the floor, slouching while seated, or adopting a 'W-sitting' posture, consider integrating exercises to address retained primitive reflexes.
  • Incorporate exercises that target scapular stability.

Final Thoughts

Managing hypermobile joints can be challenging, yet individuals affected by this condition can enjoy active and fulfilling lives with proper support and care. Consulting a medical professional for tailored advice and treatment options is crucial.

With the proper management and support, individuals experiencing hypermobility can excel and realize their utmost potential. Thus, it becomes crucial to amplify awareness regarding this condition and champion enhanced care and resources for those impacted.





While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.

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