The difference between Flexibility and Mobility
Many of us understand the importance of being more flexible and the benefits we associate with it such as freedom of movement, recovery after workout and a general feeling of relaxation.
However, we use flexibility and mobility as one and the same thing. Or we talk about one but actually use the wrong terminology. So I wanted to shed some light on the difference between flexibility and mobility.
So here are the differences
MOBILITY is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. MOBILITY is an indication on how well and efficiently we move.
FLEXIBILITY is the quality of bending easily without breaking. FLEXIBILITY is a component of MOBILITY.
MOBILITY deals with how loose you feel, or how stiff you feel.
FLEXIBILITY deals with muscles length
MOBILITY is about the whole picture, how easy the body can move.
FLEXIBILITY is specific to a particular movement or joint and it can vary around the body.
A person with MOBILITY can perform daily activities or certain exercises with more ease.
A FLEXIBLE person may not be able to move as easily. They have the flexibility but not necessary the freedom of movement. Mobility can limit the potential we gain through flexibility.
Physical Therapist, Author and Coach Gray Cook explains that MOBILITY is actually more anatomically and physiologically correct because it encompasses any structure that could restrict motion.
FLEXIBILITY would only imply structures having tension on them. Calling all limited motion problems “flexibility problems” assumes that all can be helped with stretching. Sometimes it cannot.
Mobility could limit the potential of flexibility. Let’s say your muscles (lats) are flexible enough to lift your arm vertical. But your mobility in your shoulder can limit that potential. Mobility is not limited to joints though. There is soft tissue mobility as well.
Important areas to keep flexible/mobile
Physical therapist and trainer, Joe Vega recommends we look after:
1. our neck
2. mid back
3. lower back
4. hip flexors
6. calf muscles.
It is important to foam roll/massage, stretch and strengthen these areas but not only. As your whole body is interconnected a tight muscles anywhere in your body may lead to tightness in another part of the body.
Benefits of flexibility and mobility
1. Prepare the body for physical activity
2. Reduce the risk of injuries or help recover faster from one. Whether we refer to sports injuries or simply slip on the ice or trip inside the house.
3. More ease of movement means more relaxation in the whole body thus less aches and pains, including that annoying lower back pain.
4. Helps with post workout recovery reducing soreness by driving blood flow to soft tissue
5. Improved posture. Tight muscles affect your spine’s alignment.
6. Increased endurance and metabolism
Factors influencing flexibility and mobility
1. Temperature, both body and environmental
2. Type of training. A gymnast will be more flexible and mobile than a cyclist, not matter how much the cyclist stretches.
3. Age. Although I do not totally agree with it. I have examples in my life who contradict this theory. It’s about maintaining what you gained through hard work.
4. Emotions. In his book “Stretching Scientifically” Thomas Kurz says that flexibility can be affected by anger, happiness, sadness, frustration, stress or how mentally burnt out we are.
5. Time of stretching. In the morning when you wake up you may feel a bit stiffer than normally. Although if you have a regular routine involving flexibility and mobility you could be flexible any time of the day.
If you’d like to know more please download my free eBook “15 Healthy Habits For The Body” or book a free consultation with me.