There are many classifications of connective tissue in the body. Muscles, ligaments, tendons & fascia are all connective tissue and they have a wide range of elasticity. And that variability determines the range of motion that your joints can accomplish.
If the connective tissue is removed our joints—of which there are numerous types—would be allowed to move easily according to their design. Gliding joints would glide; hinge joints would hinge; and ball and socket joints would rotate with tremendous freedom.
When the connective tissue is applied, ligaments connect bones to bones and the tone of the ligaments varies between different people.
Some ligaments are just right and the joints can do their thing with joyous and healthy abandon.
But some ligaments are too tight and some too loose.
There are a number of reasons why ligaments would be too loose or too tight. I can’t say which is the most common cause but poor posture is a main culprit.
Trauma such as car accidents or whiplash can be responsible. Over-stretching is often to blame, as are hormonal imbalances.
I imagine genetics play their part as well as I come from a ridiculously loose-jointed family and I believe this was a factor in my parents physically aging poorly.
The thing about being too loose or too tight in your ligaments—hypermobility or hypomobility—is that your muscles often don’t follow the same pattern. Which, needless to say, can be confusing.
I am both extremely loose in my ligaments and my muscles. To that end I have been able to do lotus with ease my whole life and have no trouble turning my feet out completely and putting my feet behind my head.
But just as common, but often more confusing, is someone who has very loose joints and ligaments but also quite tight muscles.
I will admit that it took me a long time to figure this particular pattern out. But eventually understanding this has made my work with people in pain much more effective.
When it comes to pain and performance diagnosis is far more important that people realize.
One of my main mantras is “get to know yourself”. For me, finally realizing after a series of knee surgeries that I needed to tighten up my musculature to prevent repeated injuries, was the recipe I needed to put myself on what is hopefully a path to aging more successfully than my parents.
And for what it is worth—and I might get myself in trouble here—I think it is preferable to be too tight than it is to be too loose but it is better to fall somewhere in between.