The other day when finding out that I’d torn a ligament in my shoulder I asked my physiotherapist “What is with my joints?” “Why do I keep getting hurt so easily?”. She said its because my ligaments are too lax. I’ve had a few treatment providers tell me over the years that my ligaments are lax and/or my joints are very loose and I’ve never really understood what that meant until recently.
The biggest and most important piece of information I’ve learnt from talking to my physiotherapist is that to avoid injury I MUST exercise and stay strong. Usually the ligaments hold the bones together and create stability in the joint. Because my ligaments are lax, my muscles have to do the work for them. The reason why I’ve had so many issues this year is because I’ve been unable to exercise due to the hip pain, my rehabilitation programme ended and I wasn’t able to keep pushing through the pain by myself. So I’ve lost a lot of strength and now my body is starting to fall apart!
I didn’t realise I had this problem until this year and it has been a big “ah ha” moment for me. I understand now that yoga came too easily to me, I was doing things in my first month of yoga that take some people years of practice to achieve (I didn’t know this until speaking to my teacher earlier this year). I understand that why the list of injuries from childhood to adulthood so very long; I’ve injured ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and wrists. I also understand that my feet aren’t flat, the ligaments just don’t hold them up when I’m standing up.
But having lax ligaments has got to have some advantages:
- I’ve got great range of movement (ROM) in my hip where most people with FAI and associated joint deterioration struggle with loosing ROM and get very stiff. Not me. I’ve lost some ROM, but I’d say its probably still better than the average.
- I’ve not had to do any stretching as part of my physiotherapy and rehabilitation programme.
- When I sprain my ankles the bone can hit the ground and my ligaments won’t tear.
- Yoga can be easy. This is a double edged advantage though as stretching is not good for people with lax ligaments (with the exception of hamstrings apparently). When I return to the mat I will have to be very careful to practice strength over flexibility. I’ll also have to learn how to use muscles better and to stop before my end range.
- I was very good at the limbo when I was a kid. And I can win that drinking game where you pick up a coin with your mouth without putting your hands/knees on the floor.
- Sitting on the floor is very comfortable. And I can lie on my tummy (on the floor) and watch TV easily.
OK… I know I’m clutching at straws, it is not really an ideal situation but it is very manageable. My plan is to get through this hip surgery and then focus on the return to exercise. I’ll go back to yoga however it will be a practice that focuses on strength over flexibility. I’ll also return to the gym, hopefully get back into boxing and spin classes.
Here are some photos of things I don’t think I’ll be doing again in any hurry: