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  • Writer's pictureDr. Samantha Cohen

Exercises for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

Do you ever feel like you never know where your body is in space? Or you end up sitting like a noodle on the couch and you didn’t even realize you got into that position? Or that your joints are always subluxing or dislocating? These are some of the common symptoms along with pain and chronic tightness that people with hypermobility syndromes combat daily.


What is hypermobility and the syndromes that go with it?


Hypermobility syndromes such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Marfan’s Syndrome, Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder or Joint Hypermobility Syndrome can cause instability and weakness in the joints leading to pain and other symptoms listed above. Both stability and strength training can be very beneficial for these individuals in order to increase joint stability, strength as well as reduce pain, fatigue, lack of endurance and improve overall function.


Here are some tips for incorporating stability and strength training into your exercise routine!


1. When thinking about exercise you want to work on exercises that will help you improve the foundation of your body- your core, as well as the stability in your joints. The first thing that is important to work on is joint and body proprioception (proprioception is when you know where your body is in space). A good rule of thumb is that anything with a closed kinetic chain (CKC) is safe. A closed kinetic chain exercise is an exercise where you are in contact with a surface such as a wall, table or the floor. Exercises like this would include wall sits or table planks.


smiling woman doing dumbell row in gym

2. Next, think about stability. So now we’re thinking about core stability exercises and making sure to engage the deepest parts of your core! You can also use balancing on one leg or unstable surfaces to start to challenge your stability and help to improve your functional stability!


business woman practicing yoga stretches

3. Once you have set the foundation with your CKC and core exercises you can begin to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints in order to create more awareness (proprioception), stability, and strength as well as control! You can do this with body weight exercises which you will progress to weighted exercises such as squats or deadlifts as well as resistance band exercises.


cheerful woman doing exercises with dumbbells

4. Proper form is important within exercises but it is important to note our bodies need to be strong enough to manage many postures throughout the day so we are training our bodies to do that pain free! So while remembering proper form with exercise is important, know there is no perfect posture to maintain after exercise is done.


5. Next work on compound exercises in order to improve overall functionality and strength as well as endurance. Compound exercises can be squats and deadlifts or combining upper and lower body exercises such as a squat to overhead press or a deadlift to a row!


6. The last step is working on power, power is essential to maintaining good bone health and help us absorb and transfer strength and force well throughout our bodies. This can be done by starting with agility ladders and progressing to different jumping activities like forward hops, single leg hops, skater jumps, and finally box jumps or single leg box jumps.


young woman lifting barbell

7. Gradual increase in resistance and weights are important! Make sure to pace yourself, hydrate often and take breaks as needed. Building up into exercise is important in how often you exercise as well! Start with exercise once every 3 days and progress to every other or even every day with one or two rest days a week!



sports woman squatting with ball in gym

8. Consider calling Zion Physical Therapy at (212) 353-8693 to work with one of our very qualified physical therapists who can help you feel safe in your progressions and exercise as well as develop an individualized home exercise program for you!


In conclusion, stability and strength training can be very beneficial for individuals with hypermobility syndromes to improve joint stability, reduce pain, improve strength and improve overall function. By incorporating stability exercises, resistance training, proper form, compound exercises, balance and coordination exercises, and progressing gradually, you can create a safe and effective exercise program that meets your individual needs.

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