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Hypermobility and Injuries – Is There A Link?

Ever wondered if there is a connection between increased joint flexibility and injury susceptibility in school children? The answer is Yes.

In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2005, 200 female netball players under 16 years of age were assessed for joint hypermobility using the validated Beighton score. Results from this study revealed that hypermobility was significantly associated with an increased prevalance of injuries in junior netball players. The most common sites of injury were the ankle (42%), knee (27%), and finger (15%). 21% of the subjects with a Beighton hypermobility score of 0-2 had sustained previous netball injuries compared with 37% with Beighton scores of 3-4, and 43% with scores of 5-9.

Hypermobility or generalised joint laxity is defined as a condition in which most of an individual’s synovial joints have a range of motion beyond normal limits- i.e. excessive joint flexibility. Although hypermobile joints in certain sports such as gymnastics and ballet may provide a performance advantage, previous studies have revealed an increased incidence of musculoskeletal injuries such as joint dislocations and sprains in sportsmen with hypermobile joints. It is therefore prudent for schools and sporting associations to start identifying these hypermobile players to prevent such injuries from occurring.

The Beighton index for hypermobility is a validated test that can be used for assessing hypermobility. The Beighton score gives an overall composite score of 0-9 and can be categorised into three groups:

  • 0-2 not hypermobile
  • 3-4 moderately hypermobile
  • 5-9 distinctly hypermobile

Identifying players with hypermobility could prompt for specific training techniques, aimed at stiffening and strengthening muscular support around susceptible joints. Educating on injury prevention and the use of strapping and supports to enhance mechanical support and proprioception of hypermobile joints could also help prevent future injuries for susceptible players - CG

Reference:

  1. R Smith, A K Damodaran, S Swaminathan, R Campbell, L Barnsley. Hypermobility and sports injuries in junior netball player. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2005; 39: 628-631

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