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Is Being Double-Jointed Bad for You?

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Everybody had that one kid in their third-grade class who could do gross party tricks, folding her body into a pretzel or twisting his fingers into strange configurations. Double-jointedness is certainly weird. But is it dangerous? That really depends on the person, and what else their body is doing.

The medical term for this extreme bendiness is joint hypermobility (JH). Experts have recently suggested sorting this trait into three different types. There’s the harmless kind (called asymptomatic JH); the kind that can cause pain (hypermobility spectrum disorders, or HSD); and the kind that’s actually a symptom of some other underlying medical condition.

Asymptomatic JH is very common. Many party-trick kids, super-flexible ballet dancers, and circus contortionists are not in pain, nor are their joints dangerously loose. But for people with HSD, that hypermobility is a problem, or it can become one as they get older. The same flexibility that can make a person a better dancer or athlete can increase their risk of injury or developing arthritis later down the line.

“When you ask those people in 10, 20, 30 years later how they’re feeling, it's not infrequent that those individuals have joint troubles,” rheumatologist David Bornstein told Real Simple. “Either they stretched their tendons so far that now they’re aching, or they’re experiencing some degeneration in their joints because their cartilage has seen more pressure than it normally would.”

The third type (when JH is a symptom of an underlying condition) is the trickiest to diagnose. JH can be a symptom of disorders like hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), a genetic condition that affects the body’s connective tissue. Tendons and ligaments are just two types of connective tissue; it’s also found in our skin, cells, organs, and brain, which means that people with hEDS might have lots of different and seemingly unrelated medical issues at once.

Experts don’t think hEDS is rare, but it is pretty obscure, which means it typically takes doctors a long time to arrive at a diagnosis. People with asymptomatic JH and mild HSD can help protect their hypermobile joints with strength training and conditioning under a doctor or physical therapist’s supervision. It’s important is to find safe exercises that don’t create additional stress on already vulnerable joints. Though it seems counterintuitive, many doctors advise hypermobile patients to avoid stretching and yoga, which can push fragile joints too far.

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Interactive Chart Tells You How Long It Takes to Get Frostbite
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For many people, winter means dry skin and high heating bills. But if you find yourself outdoors in the right conditions, it can also mean frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and the tissue beneath it freezes, causing pain, loss of sensation, or worse. It's easier to contract than you may think, even if you don't live in the Siberian tundra. To see if frostbite poses a threat where you live, check out this chart spotted by Digg.

The chart, developed by Pooja Gandhi and Adam Crahen using National Weather Service data, looks at three factors: wind speed, air temperature, and time spent outdoors. You can hover your cursor over data-points on the table to see how long you'd need to be exposed to certain wind chills for your skin tissue to freeze. If the wind chill is -22°F, for example (10°F air temperature with 5 mph winds), it would take 31 minutes of being outside before frostbite sets in. You can also look at the time scale above the chart to calculate it a different way. If you bring your cursor to the 40-minute mark, a window will tell that frostbite becomes a risk after exposure to -17°F wind chill for that amount of time. You can play with the interactive table at Tableau Public.

Chart of cold weather conditions.
Adam Crahen, Pooja Gandhi

If you can't avoid being outside in extreme wind and cold, there are a few steps you can take to keep your skin protected. Wear lots of layers, including multiple socks, and wrap your face with a scarf or face mask before venturing into the cold. Also, remember to stay hydrated. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, drinking at least one glass of water before going outside decreases your risk of contracting frostbite.

[h/t Digg]

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REM-Fit
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Stop Your Snoring and Track Your Sleep With a Wi-Fi Smart Pillow
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REM-Fit

Everyone could use a better night's rest. The CDC says that only 66 percent of American adults get as much sleep as they should, so if you're spending plenty of time in bed but mostly tossing and turning (or trying to block out your partner's snores), it may be time to smarten up your sleep accessories. As TechCrunch reports, the ZEEQ Smart Pillow improves your sleeping schedule in a multitude of ways, whether you're looking to quiet your snores or need a soothing lullaby to rock you to sleep.

After a successful Kickstarter in 2016, the product is now on sale and ready to get you snoozing. If you're a snorer, the pillow has a microphone designed to listen to the sound of your snores and softly vibrate so that you shift positions to a quieter pose. Accelerometers in the pillow let the sleep tracker know how much you're moving around at night, allowing it to record your sleep stages. Then, you can hook the pillow up to your Amazon Echo or Google Home so that you can have your favorite smart assistant read out the pillow's analysis of your sleep quality and snoring levels the next morning.

The pillow is also equipped with eight different wireless speakers that turn it into an extra-personal musical experience. You can listen to soothing music while you fall asleep, either connecting the pillow to your Spotify or Apple Music account on your phone via Bluetooth or using the built-in relaxation programs. You can even use it to listen to podcasts without disturbing your partner. You can set a timer to turn the music off after a certain period so you don't wake up in the middle of the night still listening to Serial.

And when it's time to wake up, the pillow will analyze your movements to wake you during your lightest sleep stage, again keeping the noise of an alarm from disturbing your partner.

The downside? Suddenly your pillow is just another device with a battery that needs to charge. And forget about using it in a place without Wi-Fi.

The ZEEQ Smart Pillow currently costs $200.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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