“FLEXIBILITY VS MOBILITY”
There’s more to fitness than just conditioning and strength. Flexibility and mobility matter too. You’re going to have a hard time doing exercise if you can’t bend far enough to perform any of the movements. Here’s how to improve those skills.
I know that FLEXIBILITY and MOBILITY may sound the same but they are different concepts with important impacts on your fitness.
Flexibility: Length of a muscle
Mobility: How a joint moves
Essentially, think of mobility as an umbrella covering a range of factors that may affect the range of motion (ROM) around a joint. One of these components is flexibility – it’s difficult to move a joint if the connected muscles around it don’t stretch far enough to allow it. But there are other considerations that come into play as well, like not having the strength to perform the exercises, soft tissue damage, inflamed tendons, and even problems with other joints in the same chain of movement. So while an adequately stretched muscle may, in theory, be conducive to a greater range of movement around a joint, it’s basically useless if your mobility is constricted by other factors.
So why should you care? Beyond just working out in the gym, both mobility and flexibility affect your joint health in everyday life as well. Think about it this way, if you have a general mobility problem that affects how you move, your body isn’t going to be functioning in the way it’s supposed to. Over time you can suffer more wear-and-tear, as well as general discomfort, than if the area around the joint could move as normal. Also, when we are exercising you’re essentially performing and training these faulty movements under higher intensity and greater stress, so painful injuries can accumulate over time. For example, imagine a runner lacking flexibility and having a tight calf which effects ankle mobility.. every time you go for a run your knee and hip have to compensate for your crappy ankle and all of a sudden you develop a knee problem for the first time.
So mobility is important, and flexibility is a part of that, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend an extra hour in the gym every day limbering up all your joints. I would recommend working on areas that you know are tight and have a history of limited movement.
Common problem areas are the hips, shoulders, knees and upper back. If you’ve experienced trouble in these areas, or others, here are three key steps to help loosen the areas up:
- Foam Rolling/Lacrosse Ball: Sometimes excruciating but usually effective, foam rolling is essentially a self-massage technique to help you release tight spots in your muscles.
- Mobility Drills: These are exercises that are specifically geared towards training your range of motion around joints.
- Stretch: This isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re a naturally bendy person stretching can make your joints more vulnerable to injury than if you just left it out. But if you’ve always been fairly stiff, and it’s stopping you from performing exercises correctly, you may benefit from a few short stretches as part of your warm up, and longer stretches for after your workout.
For more tips- join us at our next movement clinic at the gym and check-out our mobility “don’t do this; do this” videos on FB!!