Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) refers to a group of genetic disorders that affect the connective tissue which gives structure to joints, muscles, blood vessels, and organs.
Hypermobile joints are prone to dislocations, which can make exercise challenging for patients with EDS. However, exercise, in combination with physiotherapy, can help strengthen the muscles around the joints and prevent dislocations.
EDS patients should work with a physiotherapist to find out how they can exercise safely. The physiotherapist can design a safe and effective exercise routine to help the patient build strength, mobility, and range of motion safely while strengthening any joints that are prone to dislocation.
In general, a likely exercise program will involve stretching to improve mobility and range of motion, aerobic exercises to build lung capacity and strength, and resistance training to build muscle strength.
Many patients with EDS can benefit from low-impact exercises such as Pilates and Tai Chi, which help build core strength. Yoga can also be beneficial but poses must be done carefully as there is the risk of overextending joints in some positions. Swimming can be helpful as well for some EDS patients.
Exercises to avoid
In general, EDS patients should avoid high-impact exercises such as running, and sports that carry a high risk of injury due to impact. For example, weightlifting places pressure on locked joints and should be avoided.
Patients should discuss any new exercises with their treatment team, including their physiotherapist, before adding these exercises to their routine.
Last updated: Jan. 16, 2020
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