Best Martial Art for Hypermobility


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Hypermobility means our joints move past their normal ability to bend or extend. This is sometimes called being double-jointed. And sometimes if we have that, training martial arts makes us more susceptible to injuries. So, what is the best martial art for hypermobility?

As a general rule, Tai Chi is the best martial art for people with hypermobility. This is because Tai Chi is a low-impact martial art, and practitioners are unlikely to get injured practicing it. But when hypermobility is less severe, and one can handle intense activity, then Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also good.

And with BJJ, it could even make certain arm locks or holds harder for an opponent to put on you.

Training martial arts has many benefits. We learn to defend ourselves, get fit, make new friends, and have fun. The martial art you train depends on what your body can handle.

If you have severe hypermobility that causes joint pain, popping, clicking, and injuries, you should do an easy martial art. If you don’t have these issues, you can do something more intense and fun.

Is BJJ good for people with hypermobility?

BJJ is good for people with hypermobility, as long as their bodies are able to handle the pressure.

In BJJ, you will get pinned, swept, thrown, and people will try to twist and control your joints. If you have severe hypermobility that causes joint pain, then BJJ isn’t for you.

If, however, you have moderate hypermobility where you are really flexible but have no pain, then you will enjoy BJJ. There are many techniques in BJJ where being flexible is very advantageous. For example, flexible people will have a good guard.

Flexible people can also do complicated techniques like the omoplata, gogoplata, and back control with ease.

BJJ will also help you to strengthen your joints and ligaments.

This may help reduce the pain you feel. People that are flexible have a massive advantage in BJJ. This is because they can escape submissions easier. It is very difficult to kimura someone with flexible shoulders!

The most important thing to remember is to not do anything that your body is not comfortable with. Don’t force yourself to train or spar competitively. Also, don’t try and resist submissions. Remember that if you are flexible, there is a small margin between being okay and being hurt.

If you have loose, flexible joints, someone could have you in submission, and you won’t feel pain. But if they were to take that submission 1 inch deeper, you will have a broken bone.

But off the mats, how good is BJJ for real-world self-defense?

If you want to learn whether BJJ is effective or not for self-defense, check out this recent article on my site. I compare BJJ to other popular martial arts and sum up the pros and cons of BJJ for the streets.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Is Taekwondo good for people with hypermobility?

If you are flexible and can handle intense explosive activity, then Taekwondo could be good for people with hypermobility. The benefit of Taekwondo is that you don’t have someone actively bending your joints in an awkward way.

Also, in striking martial arts, you are not being pinned down and carrying the weight of an opponent. Therefore, Taekwondo is more suited for people with supple bodies that can’t take that much damage.

If you are flexible, you will find the techniques of Taekwondo easier to learn. There are many kicks, such as the axe kick and spinning back kick, that requires immense flexibility.

If you suffer from hypermobility, you have to be careful not to exert yourself too much in training. There is a chance that if you perform a Taekwondo kick wrong, you could hyper-extend your knee or ankle.

Also, in Taekwondo, you do many gymnastics moves that can cause issues if you have hypermobility. Someone I know used to practice cartwheels to improve his kicks. For the last two years, his hips have been popping and clicking as a result of the pressure on his hip joints.

So how do you decide between BJJ (or Japanese Jiu-jitsu) and Taekwondo?

If you want to learn whether Taekwondo is more effective than BJJ, check out this recent article on my site. I talked about the pros and cons of Taekwondo and BJJ and which one you should invest your time into.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Is it safe to train martial arts with hypermobility?

As a general rule, you should always ask your doctor if it is safe for you to train martial arts if you have hypermobility.

Hypermobility affects different people in different ways. Some people are simply very flexible. Others are so bendy that they cause themselves injury.

And I have no idea where you fall on that spectrum.

If you are the kind of person that just has abnormal mobility, but you are also strong and don’t get injured, you can train martial arts. You have to be careful though. Know your limits.

Since you are so flexible, your body will be able to do things that are “dangerous” without you feeling pain.

When you are flexible, you only feel pain once the damage has been done.

Which martial art is easiest on the joints?

Tai Chi is the martial art that is easiest on the joints.

This is because in Tai Chi, there is no heavy bag training, and there is no grappling. In fact, most Tai Chi classes will have no physical contact at all. It is a very low-impact martial art.

Tai Chi may sound boring, but it is actually a very beneficial martial art. It teaches you how to control your body and your mind. Tai Chi is all about improving your coordination and focus.

Tai Chi classes are usually very relaxed.

A Tai Chi class will start off with some breathing exercises, which are good for improving mindfulness. They also teach you how to be present and focus on what you are doing in the present moment. After that, you do some light, dynamic movements, usually from a standing position.

You will perform stretches that are designed to open up your shoulders and back and release tension. In a more advanced Tai Chi class, you may work on balance.

So you will do exercises like throwing a punch while standing on one leg.

Tai Chi is a martial art where your joints are not going to be subjected to sudden movements and sharp jolts.

This will help you improve your mobility and strengthen the muscles and ligaments around your joints. This can help improve your joint pain.

And another cool thing about Tai Chi is that it’s easier to learn at home than other martial arts.

In a recent article, I get into the best channels (mostly free) to learn Tai Chi. After all, not every online course or video is accurate. Plus, there are a LOT of variations of Tai Chi Chuan.

So click that link to read it on my site and pick the best option for you.

How to train martial arts if you have hypermobility

If you have hypermobility and want to train marital arts, you must first understand your personal situation. Are you able to perform explosive movements? Are you able to carry heavy weights? Are you very prone to injury, or are you physically robust?

If you have severe hypermobility that causes pain and increases your risk of injury, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Avoid hitting the heavy bag too hard – when you punch and kick a heavy bag, it puts a lot of stress on your joints. It can even cause the muscles to cramp up and drag the joints out of place. This can increase your joint pain.
    • Try to do more shadow boxing instead.
  • Don’t get thrown around – Wrestling and Judo are great, but if you have weak joints, you are going to get injured.
    • If you want to learn takedowns, just drill them. Don’t push yourself to do Wrestling sparring if you are prone to injury.
  • Don’t carry too much weight – in martial arts like BJJ, you will get pinned to the ground. This can cause the cartilage and joints in your torso to inflame and get irritated. I know of someone that has constant clicking and grinding in his sternum from getting pinned down.
    • If you choose to spar, train with people who are lightweight and less likely to injure you.

If you have moderate hypermobility and are able to train without getting injured every time, then go ahead. But it’s really not a good idea to train every single day. Your body will need time to recover. Also, make sure that you stretch and cool down after training.

When you train, your muscles get tight, and they can drag joints out of place.

I know that when my hips get tight, I get grinding on the hip joints because they are not in place. You have to make sure to stretch your hips, shoulders, knees, and neck after every training session.

If you have hypermobility, chances are it is because the muscles around your joints are weak. Try to do some strength and conditioning training outside of your martial arts training. This will help to reduce your risk of injury and may even improve your hypermobility.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and hypermobility by Dr. Andrea Furlan

Conclusion

Hypermobility is where the joints are very mobile and you are flexible.

This can be advantageous in martial arts, as it makes performing certain techniques easier. Flexibility is very beneficial in BJJ and Taekwondo.

However, if you are flexible, you are more prone to certain injuries. Therefore, it is important to strengthen your joints outside of your marital arts training. The best martial art for severe hypermobility is Tai Chi.

If you are more physically robust and your hypermobility is not that bad, then you may be able to handle BJJ or Taekwondo.


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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