The question has been asked many times before. Does being “double jointed” (or more accurately, hyper mobile) provide you with an advantage in martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? The simple answer is no. While there are certainly some benefits of hyper mobility, such that you may be able to tolerate more stress on a joint without feeling pain, the actual result is that you are causing much more damage to that joint than your body is aware of. As such you run the risk of dislocation or other permanent damage to the joint that can result in life-long reduced mobility.
At first glance seeing someone hyper extend a joint without any apparent pain elicits both curiosity, marvel and some discomfort. It is literally painful to watch at times. However, while the individual may not complain of any pain they may also not know the detriment to which they are placing their joints in through repeated abuse.
Hyper mobility is typically caused by one of following medical conditions (most of which are believed to be hereditary):
- Misaligned joints
- Abnormally shaped ends of one or more bones at a joint
- A Type 1 collagen or other connective tissue defect (found in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome) resulting in weakened ligaments/ligamentous laxity, muscles and tendons. This same defect also results in weakened bones, which may result in osteoporosis and fractures
- Abnormal joint proprioception (an impaired ability to determine where in space parts of the body are, and how stretched a joint is)
So while you may be able to tough our that Kimora or Arm Bar, beware you may be risking proper the function of that joint indefinitely.
As a word of caution to those who are hyper-mobile. Use care when sparring or competing. Tap out before you feel the pain if you know you’re locked in. Don’t try to use your hyper-mobility as a potential way to slip out of a submission. The possibility of lasting a few more minutes in a fight or even potentially winning that fight aren’t isn’t worth the risks of joint dislocation and damage.