You've probably met people over the years who, as if by magic, can contort their shoulders, thumbs, or elbows into the most bizarre angles imaginable. But being able to bend your thumb backward isn't actually as rare as you'd think. According to the Hypermobility Syndromes Association, 20 to 30 percent of the population possesses joint hypermobility, often known as being double-jointed.
So why do some people have more flexible joints than others? "It's a hereditary condition more commonly found among women," says Jonathan Vigdorchik, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Some people are born with more laxity in their tissues and shallower sockets, allowing them to perform a wider range of motions."
That being said, if you're one of the ones who can twist certain body parts around like a rubberband, keep this in mind: Being double-jointed can lead to health problems down the road. "Think twice about activities like extreme yoga poses and shoulder-dislocation demos," says Vigdorchik, "since they add stress to the ligament and labrum [the socket joint of the shoulder], eventually leading to pain in areas like the hips or shoulders." He explains that if people with hypermobility don't know their limits and do extreme activities that increase their flexibility, the muscles and tendons around the joint will become strained, which will eventually lead to chronic joint pain and stiffness. Larger joints like the neck, hip, and shoulders will be the first ones affected, he says.
Whether or not you've got this skill, you can loosen up vicariously through these eye-catching and entertaining pics and videos posted on social media:
— Felicia Nicole (@FeliciaDzi) July 6, 2015
— Danii California (@heyyhalo) May 8, 2015