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.

Symptoms vary from person to person, depending on the type of EDS. A common symptom is hypermobility in the joints where joints extend farther than they should.

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.

Exercising safely

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.

For some patients, orthotic braces or other adaptive devices may be necessary for support during exercise to prevent accidents or injury.

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.

Suitable exercises

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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Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Emily holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a Masters in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas. Emily is passionate about science communication, and, in her free time, writes and illustrates children’s stories.
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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.
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Emily holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a Masters in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelors in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas. Emily is passionate about science communication, and, in her free time, writes and illustrates children’s stories.
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