Flexibility vs. Mobility

What’s the difference? 

Many of us either hear this or mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. And although flexibility is a component of mobility; they are fundamentally different.

So, let’s define them.

Flexibility: The ability of muscles to lengthen. 

Mobility: The ability of a joint to move through a range of motion actively. 

But isn’t stretching enough?

Stretching is brilliant for lengthening the muscles and improving on flexibility as well as injury prevention and looking after yourself. Still, it does ultimately depend on the types of stretching that you are performing.

Whether they are passive, dynamic, static or other, as each one serves a different purpose, and I will talk about specific types of stretching in a later post. However, the lengthening ability of the muscles isn’t always indicative of your ability to move.

The trick to improving overall joint health, and by extension, our mobility is in our ability to have active control over our movements. 

So what can I do to train mobility? 

Mobility designates exercises that will increase your range-of-motion and your stabilisation, or control of the muscles that surround each joint.

Something simple as foam rolling can help to release the muscle tissue (Fascia) and allow more freedom of movement. Or directly, by performing an adequate pre-exercise warmup (Stressing the importance of warmups/mobilisation here).

Doing slow, deliberate and specific actions related to the training you are going to do. For example, including bodyweight squats with an increasing depth before a leg workout, taking the joints to their end ranges in a controlled, progressive manner.

There are other fantastic ways to build on this, Yoga, for example, is excellent to build on the stability as mentioned above and strength while progressively loading the body into different joint ranges. 

You’ll notice I have used the term “progressive” quite a lot. That is because it’s essential. As with anything, you need to build into it, giving your body and your brain the chance to respond, open up and adapt to these changes.

In short, it’s about being deliberate with your training.

One of my training philosophies is the fact there is no such thing as a “rest day” where you do nothing. Switch it into an active recovery day.

This way, you are still benefitting, and it allows you the opportunity to work on these things, helping your body repair and prevent injury. 

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Aaron Gibson