Sunday, February 8, 2015

Yoga and Joint Laxity

In talking about fitness and yoga, it’s essential to broach the subject of joint laxity. While those of us in the yoga community often uphold a very flexible body as open,  this flexibility may actually be symptomatic of joint laxity.

From the Wikipedia entry on joint laxity:

In  a 'normal' body, ligaments (which are the tissues that connect bones to each other) are naturally tight in such a way that the joints are restricted to 'normal' ranges of motion. This creates normal joint stability. If muscular control does not compensate for ligamentous laxity, joint instability may result. The trait is almost certainly hereditary, and is usually something the affected person would just be aware of, rather than a serious medical condition. 
Ligament laxity is a cause of chronic body pain characterized by loose ligaments.

As the last sentence of this quote implies, joint laxity isn’t entirely benign. Unless joints are sufficiently supported by strong muscles, the instability (openness) may be a cause of pain. While some people with joint laxity experience a lot of pain in their bodies, others experience little, if any, pain. In addition to pain, other symptoms of joint laxity include:

  • Exercise feels depleting;
  • Undue soreness after exercise – often soreness felt two days after the workout;
  • Working out feels disjointed or uncoordinated;
  • Yoga is one of the first activities that feels right;
  • Chronically tight muscles.

People with joint laxity are often drawn to yoga, as it can feel like a homecoming to focus on mobilizing and opening. Even though yoga may be a nourishing means for those with joint laxity to reconnect with their bodies, the practice of yoga does not provide the benefits of all-around fitness.

As I’ve mentioned in previous postings, the evidence supporting the benefits of aerobic fitness are incontrovertible. If you are interested in all-around health, yoga is best balanced with some aerobic fitness training and intelligent strength conditioning. Unfortunately, those with joint laxity have often had negative experiences with more traditional forms of fitness training, and often avoid them.

Rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water, and focusing solely on yoga, those of us with joint laxity are best served by learning how to develop aerobic capacity and building the muscle-mass that helps stabilize the joints.

In forthcoming posts, I will outline some techniques that allow those of us with joint laxity to develop all-around fitness.


Wormly Organics Online Health Store said...

This is a great article about joint laxity. If yoga is the only thing that "feels right" for someone, then there definitely is something wrong. Seeking to develop muscle mass to correct joint laxity should be among the top priority in order to help develop better joint movement. Thanks for sharing.

Raghav Singh said...
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Breathe Yoga Studio said...

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