Most people think of mobility and flexibility as one and the same. But, in reality, they are two different things - with different goals.
So, which should you focus on if you want to get the most out of your physical capabilities?
Here's a look at the key differences between mobility and flexibility - and what you need to know to choose the right one for you.
What Is Flexibility?
When most people think of flexibility, they think of being able to do the splits or Touch their toes.
But what exactly is flexibility by definition?
Well, flexibility is the ability of a muscle, tendons, and ligaments to lengthen passively, without being fixed to a specific movement.
Flexibility can generally be improved by stretching exercises.
Most people are familiar with the idea of stretching, but there are actually many different types of stretches that can be used to improve flexibility.
Static stretching is the most common type of stretching, and it involves holding a position for a period of time.
Dynamic stretching is another popular type, and it involves moving in and out of a position repeatedly.
Ballistic stretching is a more aggressive form of stretching that uses sudden movements to force the body into a stretched position.
Each type of stretch has its own benefits, so it's important to experiment to find the one that works best for you.
What Is Mobility?
What exactly is mobility? The dictionary tells us that mobility is the quality or state of being able to move freely and easily.
But what does that really mean? To some, it might simply mean having the flexibility to MOVE your joints through a full range of motion.
However, mobility can also refer to the ability to move your body freely and easily through space/your own environment.
In other words, while mobility requires it, it is not just about flexibility – it’s also about coordination and balance.
Whether you’re dancing, running, or simply reaching for something on a shelf, mobility is an essential part of daily life.
Think of mobility as an active, controlled, voluntary movement, moving through the available range of motion (flexibility.)
And although we often take it for granted, it’s something that we need to actively cultivate if we want to maintain our independence as we age.
So next time you find yourself stretching your limbs or moving your body through space, remember that you’re doing more than just getting some exercise – you’re also improving your mobility!
What’s More Important?
And so, what should you focus on… Flexibility or mobility? Well, the truth is that in the fitness industry, flexibility has been demonized and people have been heavily focusing on mobility instead.
But in reality, both are different terms and are in fact, complimentary to one another.
In other words, mobility is just an expression of flexibility.
Mobility combines flexibility, coordination, balance, and spatial awareness.
For this exact reason, we recommend that you do both mobility and flexibility workouts, to improve your overall physical capabilities and reduce the risk of injury.
So there you have it! Though flexibility is kind of demonized nowadays, it is, in fact, at the core of mobility!
Flexibility/stretching exercises can help improve the available range of motion of your joints, by lengthening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Once those improvements are made, they can be practically applied, through intentional, voluntary movements (mobility.)
Work on both!
What’s your favorite mobility/stretching exercise? Comment below!