I think every now and then I’m going to do a post about Positive Hypermobility – people who are Hypermobile and it allows them to do amazing things. Those who don’t have the negatives of a syndrome etc. Hypermobility allows us to have ballet dancers, gymnasts and contortionists. In many people it reduces their chance of arthritis and age related joint stiffening. It’s not all bad*.
I’m going to start with Michael Phelps. Yup, the Multi-Record Breaking Olympian. Phelps has double-jointed (Hypermobile) ankles, knees and elbows. I think that he’s also got some super-flexible shit going on in his shoulders. His arm span is 6’7″, 3″ longer than his body length. All of this makes him flexible in the water, able to adopt a super aerodynamic shape and use his very large hands and size 14 feet as oars/flippers. Long, lean, flexible and powerful. Phelps is the model of positive hypermobility. At 31 he’s still leading his field – this is old for Olympians, and would be the late career stages for a footballer – but Phelps’ hypermobility may enable him to keep winning for longer. It certainly would have played a large part in his return to form after his retirement in 2012. Unlike many sports people, the naturally stretchy hypermobile athlete doesn’t have to strain to keep flexible, so it would not have taken him as much work or time to get back to flipper form**.
Michael Phelps, stretching.- Phelps’ flexible shoulders allow him to excel in the ridiculous ‘Butterfly’ stroke, which is rather like watching a flying fish propel itself out of the water. Look at that elbow..
More images courtesy of Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/sophiegadd/pictures-of-michael-phelps-stretching-that-will-make-you?utm_term=.wdpLYgx8eQ#.bgE5mDwL1k
*She writes grudgingly…
**I don’t know how he responds to injury and reading of his routine and determination, I imagine he never really got too out of form. What I mean is it’s different from those athletes who struggle to keep supple, and who stiffen up without training. It will be interesting to see what happens to him as he ages: will he end up with knackered joints? I hope not. So many great, flexible dancers from the Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals ended up in chairs or on sticks. I think he could easily retire now to a life of Pilates.