Pilates for Hypermobility


Pilates for back pain and hypermobility is my current obsession, and is becoming my life’s work. As an incredibly active person as well as someone with hypermobility, I suffered through years of sacra-iliac instability and pain as well as a host of knee and foot issues. Through years of rigorous yoga practice I continued to increase my tissue laxity and thought I was being a great yoga teacher and student as I learned to be more and more bendy—only to have a senior yoga teacher tell me that she thought my hyper mobile body was becoming overly stretched out and that I might consider practicing less yoga.

I took her advise and sought out some alternate movement modalities and started practicing feldenkrais and therapeutic pilates at the Kane School. The anatomical focus and attention to subtle alignment and biomechanics of therapeutic pilates fed my brain while the transformational benefit of deep core work started to change my movement patterns and bring my overly stretched out body back into a state of greater integration.

Essentially, changing my movement practice from a predominately yoga-based one to more of a pilates-based one has completely changed my body and my work life. Now I practice a limited amount of yoga poses emphasizing stability and muscle engagement while focusing more of my movement practice on developing stronger core muscles as well as shoulder and hip stabilizers. I love using the pilates reformer to provide resistance to any part of the body and have learned to notice subtle and rather non-functional movement patterns such as recruiting my quad muscles for just about everything. Slowly this is changing in my own body and so are the clients that are drawn to work with me.

I now work primarily with students dealing with back issues of some sort and many others with hypermobility. Using the tools of pilates, myofascial release, and breath work, I am trying to help them develop more functional movement patterns, develop better access to deep core support, and to enhance their breathing capacity and lower their stress response. It’s fun for me, it’s engaging and challenging for them, and hopefully transformational for both of us on some level.


What is Hypermobility?

Hypermobility is a connective tissue condition that occurs on a spectrum ranging from mild ligamentous laxity to more severe symptoms such as hyperextended, unstable joints and frequent dislocations, among a host of other symptoms. My personal form of hyper mobility lies somewhere in the middle. I have suffered from multiple shoulder dislocations that used to occur in my sleep to joints that snap and pop constantly, sacra-iliac instability, and foot problems related to ligament laxity.

People with hyper mobility have a much wider range of motion available in their joints than other people and therefore have quite extensive movement possibilities. It’s important to use the full range of motion available to hyper mobile people and to pair that range of motion with light resistance such as using therabands, weights, and training on the reformer, chair, and cadillac. I tend to use lots of props with my hyper mobile clients because it’s so helpful to provide external feedback when the ligamentous laxity and extensive movement range make it challenging for them to feel where their bodies are in space.

Pilates can help people with hyper mobility develop a greater sense of awareness of their bodies, create more integrity in their joints and local muscles, and more overall strength and functional range of motion throughout their entire body.