Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a group of hereditary disorders that effect the connective tissue of the body. EDS disorders are varied in the ways they affect the body and in their genetic causes. The underlying concern is due to the abnormal structure or function of collagen and other connective tissue proteins which can change the integrity and strength of connective tissue and skin.
EDS effects between 1 in 3,500 to 1 in 5,000 people. The hypermobile type (hEDS) is by far the most common type and may be more common than that as it may be missed or misdiagnosed as something else.
EDS is generally characterised by joint hypermobility (joints that move further than normal range), joint instability and dislocations, scoliosis, and other joint deformities, skin hyperextensibility and abnormal scarring, and other structural weakness such as hernias and organ prolapse through the pelvic floor.
Common signs and symptoms of EDS include:
- Hypermobility of the joints with frequent sprains or dislocations
- Painful joints, muscles and nerves
- Soft skin that may be fragile, bruise or tear easily
- Frequent subluxation or dislocations of joints.
How can exercise help?
Even though EDS cannot be cured, exercise can certainly help control the symptoms, especially with the hypermobile variant. Regular exercise can help to strength and stabilise joints, improve proprioception and muscular control and minimise pain.
Regular exercise can also help to improve aerobic capacity, flexibility and global conditioning. This can lead to an improvement in self esteem, confidence and happiness.
If you are considering exercising for the first time and you have EDS, consider starting under the guidance of an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. An AEP is specifically trained in creating exercise programs the are safe and appropriate for those who have conditions such as EDS.
Some main points to consider are:
- Start conservatively if you are new to exercise
- Don’t overstretch, chances are you are stretchy enough!
- Focus on strengthening particular joints that are prone to strains, sprains and dislocations
- If you are considering running, start really slowly and find a supportive pair of shoes. Start on flat and even surfaces.
- There is nothing you absolutely can’t do – everyone is different! Just take your time slowly building up your strength and tolerance to exercise.
Need help getting started? We would love to help you begin your exercise journey under the watchful eye of an expert. Contact us today!