Mobility and flexibility: it actually matters.
As individuals who are regularly participating in exercise, you have probably heard the terms mobility and flexibility used. But what are they, how can you improve yours and what are the benefits? Let’s take a further look.
To begin with, we need to define what they are. Often used in conjunction with one another, and even sometimes interchangeably you must understand that there is a difference between mobility and flexibility. Firstly, mobility is defined as the joint’s ability to move fluidly with stability through a certain range of movement while flexibility is the muscle’s ability to lengthen (CoActive Health, 2018). It is possible to have good flexibility and poor mobility, however overall, your range of motion will be impacted. As an example, say you have good flexibility in your calf muscles but one of your ankles has poor mobility. This will negatively impact your ability to get into a deep squat.
There are many tasks that we do that decrease our mobility. Activities such as sitting, working at a computer, exercise, sport and even injures can lead to what is known as a compromised joint (Giles, 2016). This is where there are tight muscles that surround a joint, leading that joint to become less mobile. If the decreased mobility goes unchecked for an extended period, we can develop pain in unrelated areas due to our bodies having to cater for the compromised joint. This pain can also typically indicate a muscular imbalance, which affects all aspects of our lives, not just our physical performance in the gym.
So how can your mobility and flexibility be improved? This can be done by using a combination of static stretches, dynamic stretches, deep tissue massage, foam rolling and mobility drills which target muscles, tendons and the joint as they work through their entire range of motion (Giles, 2016). Dynamic stretches, foam rolling, and mobility drills can all be included as a part of your warmup when you are undertaking a training session. On the days where you aren’t training, you can still participate in these activities along with deep tissue massage and static stretches. While it would be great to tell you that performing static stretches weekly, or even daily will significantly increase your mobility and flexibility, sadly this is not the case. There have been countless studies that show the effects of static stretching are only temporary. However, regular mobility drills such as pointing your toes & then pulling them up towards you for ankle mobility will have a positive effect on your central nervous system (CNS) long-term. As your body performs mobility movements regularly it will allow your CNS to develop more trust in your mechanics by increasing the control you have during these movements. By doing this, the limitations placed on your mobility by your CNS will decrease (Southside Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre, 2020). Thus, increasing your mobility as your body knows it can safely perform the required movements.
The benefits of regular mobility and flexibility work include fewer injuries, less pain, improved posture and balance, a positive state of mind, greater strength and improved physical performance (Cronkleton, 2018).
Remember, when we talk of mobility we are talking about our joints and their ability to move effectively through a range of motion, whereas flexibility is focussed on lengthening muscle. Both aspects are important and can often be overlooked, but they play a vital role whether you are training regularly or not at all. Both should be worked on regularly to improve your posture, your ability to complete daily tasks and to enhance your strength training efforts.
Have any questions? Contact us today and see how we can help you improve your mobility and flexibility.
CoActive Health. (2018). The importance of mobility and flexibility training. Retrieved from
Cronkleton, E. (2018). Why Being Flexible Is Great for Your Health. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-flexibility#stretches
Giles, G. (2016). What is mobility training and do I need to be doing it? Retrieved from Atlas Fitness DC: https://www.atlasfitnessdc.com/mobility-training-need/
Southside Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre. (2020). Mobility vs Flexibility. Retrieved from http://ssphysio.com.au/view/post/mobility-vs-flexibility