Mobility / Flexibility

Understanding Mobility and Flexibility, and Which Is Best For You

Most people mistakenly believe that mobility and flexibility are the same thing, while in fact they are not.

Knowing the difference between the two will assist you in determining what you should be doing more of.

So, let’s start with the basics…

The meaning of ‘flexibility’ in the dictionary is: the ability to bend easily without breaking.

This makes sense in some ways, but we’re not plastic rulers that snap when bent too far. So, to make things easier, let’s use the following definition:

 

Flexibility is the capacity to extend your muscles to their maximum length.

Whereas:

The capacity to move your joints via a wide range of motion is known as mobility.

Which is more crucial? Which is more important: flexibility or mobility?

Flexibility and mobility go hand in hand, yet flexibility isn’t going to help you improve your performance.

Flexibility is preferable since it reduces your risk of injury, which has somehow become “common knowledge.” When, in fact, so much data indicates the exact reverse!

A meta-analysis of five trials found no link between static stretching and injury reduction. Stretching does not lessen muscular soreness in the days following exercise, according to a second study.

Mobility is what reduces damage, improves joint health, and relieves joint discomfort. Your range of motion is increased and strengthened with mobility exercises. To avoid damage, you must be able to manage the range of motion of your joints, whether you’re in a downward dog or a hard squat.

  1. Muscles won’t be able to lengthen if the joint won’t let it.

Because they frequently rely on each other, many individuals mistakenly believe that flexibility and mobility are synonymous.

You’re wasting your time if you’re performing toe touches every day to obtain flexible hamstrings yet your hip flexor mobility is limited! (I’m sorry for having to break it to you.)

The muscle will never be able to fully stretch because the joint will not allow it to do so. It’s that simple!

  1. Flexibility can cause injuries, although mobility can assist prevent them.

Your muscles will be strengthened and stabilized as a result of mobility work. When your muscles are stretched to their entire range of action, flexibility weakens them.

Jess and Laura, for example, are focusing on getting a broader stance in your sumo squat.

Jess works on her flexibility by practicing her middle splits every day in order to improve her deadlift range of motion.

Laura performs the same thing, but she also incorporates mobility drills such as sitting erect with a kettlebell on each leg and raising and holding.

When they go to execute their deadlift, both of them have a wider stance, but Jess is wounded. Why? Jess’ muscles are weak and prone to damage at this new range of motion.

At this new range, Laura worked on stabilizing and strengthening her muscles. In the end, they were able to complete a bigger lift without suffering any injuries.

  1. Flexibility is a short-term goal, but mobility is a long-term one.

Stretching’s advantages can’t be sustained indefinitely.

Your flexibility is just transitory unless you have the time to sit and stretch for 5 hours a day (which, let’s face it, you don’t). Yes, it is unjust…

To maintain this newfound range of motion, muscles require strength and stability. This is when flexibility comes into play.

Mobility training is more difficult to continue over time because it is reliant on motor control rather than passive stretching. It becomes a part of us, unlike flexibility, which you lose if you don’t use it.