Mobility vs Flexibility

Author: Sinead McGill. A virtual trainer specialising in fitness & performance. For more FREE content then follow sineadcmcgillfitness on Instagram. 

Mobility’ a huge buzz word in the fitness world now with mobility exercises/warm up drills filling up our newsfeeds and rightly so.

However do we know what it really means is it the same as stretching? Is it really that important?😀

1. Are Mobility & Flexibility the Same Thing?

Mobility/flexibility is a grey area, with the two often getting mistaken for the same thing.

In a nutshell, flexibility is your stretch ability, whereas mobility is the ability to work in that range.

So for example your ability to prop one leg up on a box and stretch is your flexibility, mobility however would be your ability to then raise your leg off the box and hold it there. Mobility therefore requires strength from the muscles, ligaments & tendons to support the movement, so once you know the body has access to the range passively through stretching, you can build the strength in the range to access greater mobility.

2. Why is it Key to Your Health & Training?

Injury at any joint occurs when it is pushed beyond the movement it has been trained/learnt movement in, so in having not only access to your full range of movement, but the strength & control in your joints, it decreases your like hood of injury occurring. Further to this training joints in their full range is making use of how we are designed to move/function and so stiff/tight/immobile joints become a thing of the past.

Bad backs, tension headaches, achy knees/hips, weak ankles and clunky shoulders can all be symptoms of joints not functioning correctly.

The majority of us will have imbalances and postural defects that can be easily corrected, they may be subtle/unnoticeable to the untrained eye but over time cause niggling injuries and chronic pain. Joint dysfunction can make a huge difference not only to the way you move but the way you feel.

3. So How Do I Improve my Mobility?

Stiff/immobile joints don’t just occur when surrounding muscles are too tight but also when the surrounding muscles/structures are weak.

It is your bodies way of protecting you from injury by limiting the amount of movement allowed at the joint until you earn the movement through strengthen surrounding muscles/structures, supporting a greater range of movement.

Improving your mobility requires use of strength training in the end ranges of your movement to improve earn more movement at the joint. It sounds complicated but I like to think of it like levelling up on a game, you’ve got to work to complete the first level to open the door to the next and so on.

Mobility training is a form of strength training and specific depending on your current ability and goals, but as a start point check out this video to give you a few ideas on ways to start unlocking your movement potential.