What sport can I play if I have hypermobile joints?
December 9, 2021 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I have a connective tissue disorder that causes joint hypermobility. Essentially, my joints can dislocate or at least partially dislocate relatively easily. I’m a lot stronger now with physiotherapy but I need to be very careful. What doesn’t work: contact sport, racket sports, golf, and so on. What I love: cricket, horse riding, golf (I did all this as a child but it’s impossible now). Any suggestions?
posted by bigyellowtaxi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total)
What does your doctor or physical therapist say? That's who I'd listen to. But also, if you can be a little more specific about what you've been advised to avoid, people may be able to give better suggestions. Like, is the reason horseback riding won't work because of the risk of falls, or because you get jostled while on the horse, or what? Why is golf disallowed? Are racket sports bad because of the running, or for some other reason?
posted by decathecting at 2:10 PM on December 9, 2021

If not horse riding, how about (horse) driving?
posted by sepviva at 2:34 PM on December 9, 2021

Best answer: One of my children is less severely hypermobile, and everyone says swimming all the time, which we now do. I think the key for them is to strengthen the muscles without straining the joints and swimming is an obvious sport for that.
posted by heavenknows at 2:43 PM on December 9, 2021 [7 favorites]

Swimming, archery, canoeing, biking. Would table tennis count as a racquet sport?
posted by greta simone at 2:45 PM on December 9, 2021

How do you feel about airplanes? Sailplane (glider) racing is a sport, and there are relatively inexpensive ways to participate (1-26 class, for instance). You can get your rating for significantly less than powered flight — my ticket cost about $4k over two months in 2008 at a for-profit training outfit in Arizona; you could probably do it cheaper but more slowly if there is an ASA club in your area).
posted by Alterscape at 2:51 PM on December 9, 2021

posted by BlahLaLa at 3:00 PM on December 9, 2021

Response by poster: In response to the first comment: My physio has said to avoid anything that could potentially cause a dislocation. Horse riding doesn’t work because I could dislocate my hips or shoulders if I get jostled. Likewise golf could cause my shoulder to dislocate. As for racket sports, again they could cause shoulder dislocations.

Also I should have clarified: I’m strong in the sense that I can hike for 2-3 hours at a time (hilly trails), lift light weights (4-6 kilos), use medium strength resistance bands for leg exercises.
posted by bigyellowtaxi at 3:02 PM on December 9, 2021

posted by Lanark at 3:09 PM on December 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

This strains the definition of sport, but it's physical and can be done competitively--maybe social dancing?
posted by space snail at 3:16 PM on December 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have a friend who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and its attendant hypermobility. She swears by swimming year round. She also likes mountain biking since the setup/angle/posture of a mountain bike agrees with her joints (road racing bikes not so much).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:25 PM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding Lanark. I have heard that rowing is good for people with hyper mobility.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 3:41 PM on December 9, 2021

I can confirm: I've got hypermobile joints and swimming, rowing, cross country skiing, and slide boards work well for me.
posted by skye.dancer at 4:56 PM on December 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Water polo?
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 5:29 PM on December 9, 2021

Not a sport, but yoga? But you will want to be careful - being too flexible without the strength can lead to injury, but a good instructor will warn you accordingly.
posted by coffeecat at 6:24 PM on December 9, 2021

posted by zengargoyle at 7:09 PM on December 9, 2021

Best answer: With hypermobility undiagnosed until later adulthood, I can say without a doubt that archery was the only thing I was ever even remotely successful with in school P.E., and the only thing that didn’t cause severe pain .
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:35 PM on December 9, 2021

Best answer: One word of caution about swimming; I know it's meant to be great for hypermobility, but I'm hypermobile pretty much all over and I find the motion of kicking my legs causes the water resistance to twist my weakest knee the wrong way while I kick. Every time I've tried to swim in recent years I've come out of the pool with a really sore knee. Definitely worth experimenting with but if you find you're sore coming out in places where you weren't going in, it might not be the activity for you.

Upper body weightlifting has worked well for me in the last few years, as has the range of activities offered by Ring Fit Adventure on the Switch (with a few modifications/exercises I avoid). And cycling in an upright position (I favour a Dutch-style hybrid bike) on a bike that's been set up well for my leg length doesn't tend to cause any issues.
posted by terretu at 1:51 AM on December 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just to echo/build on terretu's comment: for most of my life, I found that swimming hurt my joints, but I kept at it because I thought that was just how it was supposed to be. Finally, I booked a session with a SwimSmooth coach, who filmed me swimming and gave me some very detailed and specific ways to correct my stroke. I found I was much less injury prone afterward.

I specify Swim Smooth because their philosophy is very focused on correct stroke mechanics. I had previously tried a non-Swim-Smooth coach but she was much more focused on "Let's do one more lap!" rather than "Here's how you should be moving your arms to place less strain on your shoulder."

The Swim Smooth coaching wasn't cheap, but I only needed a single session of it to make a major difference. Afterward, I was able to do longer workouts without significant pain.

I will note that I have never been formally diagnosed with hypermobility but I have recently begun to suspect I have a mild form of it.
posted by yankeefog at 3:29 AM on December 10, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Two of my dearest have EDS, and they have to be very very careful with yoga. One of them was doing yoga four times a week and felt amazing, until everything started popping out of place all the time. Her doctor took her down to two days a week then one day a week and yeah.
posted by joycehealy at 4:28 AM on December 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Curling? I never saw curlers fall down.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 4:40 AM on December 10, 2021

I have a friend who does frame running, a parasport.
posted by lokta at 5:32 AM on December 10, 2021

Based on what I've been told by someone with a less severe but similar experience, there's a chance archery will be a real elbow problem. But, it sounds like it works for others. (If you try it, rent before you buy.)
posted by eotvos at 9:19 AM on December 10, 2021

Along the lines of swimming, I have found aqua aerobics to be great with my many joint issues. When necessary, you can keep the range of motion smaller, but still get as gentle or intense a workout as you want, which is a big deal.
posted by ktkt at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2021

Best answer: I don't dislocate easily but I'm hypermobile, and my favorite activities are gentle hatha yoga with the understanding that I will not push myself to my full capacity (and I tell the teacher this and run if they try to do any sort of "correction" that involves pushing me into a more flexible position, better yet tell them you don't want corrections), light swimming, biking, and gardening.

For racket sports is badminton also a no? Ping-pong?
posted by lafemma at 10:34 AM on December 10, 2021

Best answer: Orienteering?

While there's a running component in some of the events, it's not mandatory.

It also may be stretching the definition of 'sport', but the IOC does recognize chess as a sport.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2021

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