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If my joints are so loose, why do I feel so tight?

A common question I hear from my patients and clients who have been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) is, “If my joints are so loose, why do I feel so tight?” A feeling of tightness of the muscles, often resulting in pain and discomfort is very common among those with these diagnoses. EDS and HSD cause increased laxity of the ligaments, which causes “looseness” of the joints. The brain will do whatever it can to attempt to stabilize the joints. One of the things the brain can do is instruct the muscles surrounding the loose joints to increase their tone. This increased muscle tone can help improve joint stability. However, this can also result in the muscles staying in a hypertonic state. Hypertonic muscles do not fully relax but instead stay “on” all the time. 



In my physical therapy treatment I use rehabilitation techniques from DNS to help my patients attain functional joint centration. This enables them to use their muscles to stabilize their joints in the most efficient way possible while still allowing for full freedom of movement of the joints and without resulting in fatigue, tightness and pain. For more information on EDS-HT, HSD, as well as other EDS subtypes I highly recommend checking out The Ehlers-Danlos Society.



Often when people suffer from pain and fatigue resulting from a feeling of tightness in their muscles they seek out release techniques such as massage and myofascial release work either from a practitioner or through self-massage practices using balls, rollers, sticks, etc.

This can be problematic when this hypertonicity is a functional adaptation of the body to deal with the laxity of the ligaments.



REMEMBER: At worst the release work will result in instability and risk of subluxation of the joints. A feeling of tightness of the muscles, often resulting in pain and discomfort is very common among those with these diagnoses. In my physical therapy treatment I use rehabilitation techniques from DNS to help my patients attain functional joint centration. This enables them to use their muscles to stabilize their joints in the most efficient way possible while still allowing for full freedom of movement of the joints and without resulting in fatigue, tightness and pain.

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