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Hyper mobility and pregnancy

Every now and then I get questions from MummyYoga attendees that are perhaps relevant to many of you. So I thought sharing these conversations as blog posts might have a wider appeal.

This morning, a lady sent me an email after her visit to her physiotherapist.

She said,

Hi Rehana,

I wondered if you might help me out a bit???

I had a physio appointment a couple of weeks ago because my lower back and hips are very sore and I’m starting to cease up after activity i.e. after walking home, after the relaxation element in yoga – there’s been a few times I thought I might need to ask for help getting off the mat for example. I’m hyper-mobile, which I new already, but with pregnancy this has started to impact my hip joints, as I’m sure you can imagine. My physio has suggested less walking and that I give up the yoga. I really don’t want to give the yoga up, as I think the breathing exercises and the core body strength poses we do are really good for me. I also really benefit from the upper body and hamstring stretches etc. So basically, I’m asking for a second opinion from you if possible? I’m happy to take direction during in class to ease off, don’t try this etc. but would much rather do that than give up completely.

Any guidance on this would be much appreciated!

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Soreness that comes from hyper mobile joints is not uncommon and my suggestion in this scenario would definitely be a lot less dramatic than giving up the very things that keep you physically, mentally and emotionally well.

This is what I said…

Hello XXX

I am glad you asked before giving up yoga. My opinion would differ from your physiotherapist.

You are right about increasing strength with your practice. A lot of people are unaware of how yoga builds strength as well as flexibility. One of the first things people say to me when they join the classes is, “I am not flexible”. Now, they never say, “I am not very strong, and I don’t know if I will be able to do this practice!”. It doesn’t occur to them that they will also require and build strength with yoga.

I hate this misconception. After years of being in the weight training/body building world, I can tell you yoga indeed makes you very strong. More importantly, unlike “weights at the gym” it makes you functionally and dynamically strong (like bendy grass) rather than simple muscular hypertrophy (like a big tree trunk).

The issue with hyper mobility is partly exaggerated by lack of muscular strength. If your tendons/cartilages and muscles can stretch beyond the normal range of motion then it will need to be strong to counter that stretch. If you can’t “reign” them in with strong muscles you are in danger of injuring yourself. That injury does not always occur at the hyper mobile joint. It occurs at your weakest link in that movement.
So, your gut feeling of continuing your practice is probably the better option, both for your pregnancy weight load distribution and postnatal joint health (pregnancy and postnatal hormones can have quite a destructive impact on joint health if not taken care of).
There are plenty of variations we can try in class to limit the joint pain, particularly at the pelvis. One of the first things I would suggest as a blanket care is to not go too deep into postures simply because you can. We will work on foot positions and stance to build strength through the load bearing joints and muscles.
The one other thing you can do is also not be static for long particularly after the practice. Use a seated position for the meditation element at the end.
We can do a lot to manage your hyper mobility and ceased muscles without having to take drastic measures such as simply cut out one of the most beneficial things you can do in a pregnant state.
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So if you suffer from your muscles ceasing up after physical activity, don’t just give up. See where the issues lie and if there are simple modifications you can make to improve management.

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