Hypermobility: Less Is More

The term "hypermobility" covers a whole spectrum of excess joint mobility. It refers to everything from being able to bend your hand back towards your forearm to being a contortionist with the skill to control and coordinate all that mobility. It also includes a client who I've been working with regularly for a few months. Here's a little about the story of working with her. I'll call her K.

K is a middle-aged woman with full-blown hypermobility. She can bend and move in ways that most people never will. When she originally contacted me, she was looking for effective stretches, because being so hypermobile, what feels like a stretch to you or me just feels like movement to her. She came in with this ability to move wildly, but never able to be comfortable. It was immediately clear upon meeting K that she needed two things: to find her connection to the ground to stabilize her, and coordination to be able to control her movement.

K is a fascinating person to work with on many levels. Despite this deep sense of disconnection from herself that she felt when she first came in, she could, and still can, tell me precisely what she was feeling physically at any given time. She uses continually surprising language to describe her experience, often with sound effects. (To give you an idea of her language, during her first lesson, we started doing some hands-on work and she told me, "I thought I was coming to a class. It's like I was expecting a cupcake and I got a WHOLE GIANT BOWL of tiramisu!")

The majority of people who come in my door need to learn how to add extra movement to what they're already doing. For example, someone with lower back pain often needs to learn how to allow more movement in their legs, pelvis, and lower back so their lower back doesn't have to work so hard.

K is a different story. She is a constant reminder for me of a Feldenkrais motto, "less is more". The simplest movement pattern I can think of holds huge power for her. Early in working with her, I introduced her to the idea that her torso and pelvis could move as one unit, like how a barrel rolls, and it was stunning to her. After a lifetime of no control, K revels in being able to control how she's moving, no matter how small.


After a lifetime of no control, K now revels in her ability to control her movements. She has learned that she can: 1) choose how big a movement is, and 2) that a small movement might be more satisfying or comfortable than a large one. The knowledge has made dramatic changes in her day-to-day life. Hypermobility (both extreme like K’s and milder) can cause serious injury and joint damage long-term. K’s new repertoire of limited movements will help her joints stay healthy longer than they might otherwise, and offer her constant discovery along the way.

A version of this article was published in SenseAbility, a publication of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America, and can be found here