Why Using a Chair Correctly is SO Difficult for Hypermobile Kids and Adults

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I spend a fair amount of time teaching hypermobile people of all ages how their sitting position affects their ability to write, keyboard, or do just about anything.  And of course, we want hypermobile people to have a stronger core while sitting.  But their chair can help them.  It is not a crutch.

Yup.  Use the chair.  Correctly.

Understanding how to use the back support of the chair correctly is fairly simple, but really hard for hypermobile people to do.  The reason it is so challenging has very little to do with being obstinate, forgetful, or in denial.

It has a lot to do with sensory processing and old habits (even for kids).

  • Hypermobility reduces sensory feedback from joints and muscles.  This makes it harder to pay attention to posture while sitting.  It is the equivalent of writing while wearing mittens.
  • Less sensory feedback frequently results in unconscious strategies to boost feedback.  Wrapping legs around the chair’s legs.  Leaning forward and resting the head on the palms.  Folding one leg under the body while sitting.  They do increase proprioception.  They also put the spine out of alignment and reduce the use of core stabilizers.
  • From the moment a hypermobile person is born, they come up with compensatory strategies.  Leaning.  Twisting.  Slumping.  Getting up for no good reason, over and over.  This means habits are formed before they know how to walk.  By the time they get to school, they are simply “The way I am”.  And hard to break.

If you or your child are hypermobile, there are a few hacks that work:

  1. Practice.  Even for a few minutes.
  2. Write a note on the table or screen in front of you.
  3. Make sure the chair is a good one.
  4. Accept that fatigue destroys the best intentions.  Allow movement breaks.
  5. Get rid of the old idea that depending on the chair indicates poor postural control.  Use the chair to perform the task.  You can exercise later.  This is not the time to exercise.

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