by Jeannie di Bon, February 8th, 2021
Here’s what’s going on when we hyperextend the elbows:
1. The muscles around the joint no longer have to work, making the joint vulnerable to strain and pain
2. The joint is very vulnerable and open to strain.
3. You turn off your powerhouse of muscles by blocking communication to the torso. The arms feed into the back but with a locked elbow this communication is blocked.
4. The shoulders are placed out of alignment – this could cause neck pain.
5. In four-point kneeling, the lumbar spine collapses causing strain.
6. It makes any weight-bearing activity very difficult and unstable.
7. In a plank pose, the wrists are compromised too, as too much weight is now dropping down into the ground. It’s going to be sore.
So, lots of reasons to learn how NOT to lock those elbows. I’m not saying this will be easy because you may have done it your whole life without even realising it. This can become a subconscious habit that you need to retrain. This takes patience and practice.
How do we do that? There are many ways, but I would start with non-weight bearing activity and learn correct arm and shoulder mechanics. Improving proprioception so we are aware we do this. And building strength in the upper back. The elbows lock because they are trying to stabilise you either out of habit, lack of awareness or lack of trust that the back muscles are going to do the job.
But all of this can be learnt through appropriate movement practices designed for our hypermobile bodies. Remember, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. I can lock my elbows but I’m always trying my absolute hardest not to. It does take practice, but the fact that you become aware that you do it, is the first step towards making a change. If you’re not aware you do something, you will have no idea how to change it. Once you become aware, change can happen.
Remember there are plenty of videos over on my YouTube channel to help you build your body awareness and joint stability.