Joint hyperextension overview

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Hyperextension is the excessive movement of a joint in which the angle formed by the bones of a particular joint is extended beyond their normal and healthy range of motion . This movement can potentially make this joint unstable and increase the risk and likelihood of dislocation or other possible injury to the joint. For example, a whiplash injury can cause the neck to overstretch.

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Sometimes mild hyperextension is not harmful, such as superman exercises where the back is excessively stretched compared to the normal anatomical position.

Range of motion

Most joints in the body allow some movement. Some joints, such as the skull joints, do not.

Joints that allow movement, such as the knee, ankle, and spine, have a range of motion. This range of motion describes how comfortably the joint can move or flex in each direction, and is generally measured in degrees. Each individual joint has a specific range of motion, which is determined by the position of the bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that make up the joint.

For example, you can move your neck to a certain point in each direction, but turning your neck too much in a particular direction can cause pain, and this can lead to injury.

Flexion

The opposite of extension is flexion . Flexion is defined as the flexing of a joint so that the bones of the joint come together. During flexion, the angle between the bones of the joint decreases. Flexion generally occurs when muscles contract and bones move an adjacent joint into a curved position.

Flexion decreases the angle of the joint, while extension increases it.

The exercise

From a fitness standpoint, hyperextension movements are often used in exercises designed to restore normal range of motion. For example, you may need range-of-motion exercises for your elbow while recovering from an injury.

One type of hyperextension exercise can be performed by lying on your stomach on the floor and then lifting your arms and torso off the ground while keeping your hips and lower body flat and grounded. This movement stretches the muscles of the lower back.

There are also types of equipment commonly found in gyms that can be used to perform hyperextension exercises. If you're not sure what equipment to use for your hyperextension exercise, be sure to ask your gym staff member.

Frequently asked questions

  • Hyperextension exercise is generally understood as an exercise that can strengthen the muscles of the back. Research on this exercise shows that the correct technique can alleviate low back pain, a common health problem for many people.

    The exercise is performed by lying face down on the floor and lifting the arms and torso off the floor. It can also be done in a gym with specialized equipment.

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