Difference Between Mobility and Flexibility

Just take a walk through any fitness centre, and you’ll hear the words “flexibility” and “mobility” thrown around a lot. These two terms are frequently used interchangeably as if they meant the same thing. If you’ve been curious whether there’s any difference between mobility and flexibility, then this article will help clear your doubts.

Let’s cut straight to the point. Mobility and Flexibility are not the same. Although it is an easy mistake to make, given that flexibility is a component of mobility. So although you will look cool doing that full split, because of high flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got good mobility. Mobility has to do with much more than appearances. It is primarily concerned with your ability to execute regular and advanced movements.

Are you wondering if it is that important for you to know the difference between mobility and flexibility? It is if you’re serious about your fitness! You don’t just want to be flexible, you should also be fit enough to perform simple as well as complex movements and physical activities with ease. By knowing the difference between mobility and flexibility, you can reach your fitness goals much faster. And that is the goal of this article. Let’s start with…

What Is Flexibility?

Everyone has at least a general idea of what is flexibility – the ability to stretch! To put it more precisely, the ability of your muscles and soft tissues to stretch. Your flexibility determines your passive range of motion.

Depending on the activity you’re performing, the muscles are required to stretch or lengthen temporarily. The limit to which the muscles can stretch determines your flexibility level. It’s similar to a rubber band. If you pull on it and it stretches without snapping, then it has good flexibility.

There are plenty of simple exercises to determine your flexibility level. One way to check and work on your flexibility is with the help of a TRX Resistance band. Just lie down on your back and loop the resistance band on one foot. Based on how flexible you are, you’ll be able to pull your leg that much closer to your body.

Now, how about trying out that same exercise without the help of a resistance band. It’s tougher. For some, it might not even be possible to hold the leg up in that position for more than a few seconds. The reason for this is mobility. And…

What Is Mobility?

Compared to flexibility, mobility determines the active range of motion of your joints. Although the muscles around the joint should be flexible for it to go through its entire range of motion, there is much more to mobility than just flexibility. It also takes into account the strength of the muscles along with their flexibility

Multiple factors determine how good a person’s mobility is.  The joint structure, how much the joint can move in the joint capsule, the nerves, tendons, and ligaments connecting the joint and the bones play a significant role in mobility. The motor control of the nervous system also limits your mobility. But it has a good reason for doing so.

Mobility Helps Prevent Injuries

Apart from just how much the muscle stretches, mobility also takes into account movement and motor control. Based on how much motor control you have, your nervous system will control your mobility level. This is an inbuilt safety mechanism to prevent injury to the body. Since flexibility is just one of the components of mobility, mobility training is much more effective in improving your fitness level and preventing injuries than just flexibility training. But on that note…

How To Improve Your Flexibility

One of the most common fitness mistakes people make is to do static stretching before starting work out. Forcing a muscle that has not yet warmed up to stretch can, in fact, lead to injury. That is why it is vital to engage in static stretching only post-workout.

A lot of tension tends to get accumulated in the muscles during workouts. Engaging in static stretching at this point can help release some of the accumulated stress. It also signals the muscles to relax and helps shift the body into an anabolic state where it can begin the healing process. A useful tip to improve your flexibility is to use foam rolling post-workout. Reducing muscle soreness, preventing DOMS, and improving flexibility are some of the benefits of foam rolling.

Improving Your Mobility

Another important difference between mobility and flexibility is that unlike the latter, mobility training is most effective when done pre-workout. The reason for this is that mobility training involves a lot of movement, which helps to lubricate the muscles and joints. By helping to warm up the body, mobility training also prevents the chances of injury during training.

Mobility training ensures you work your body in all 3 planes of motion. This helps to take your muscles and joints through their full range of motion. By doing this pre-workout, you increase the gains received from the strength training that follows. Similar to flexibility, for mobility to last, you need to be consistent with your training.

Mobility vs. Flexibility – What Should You Work On?

Hopefully, now that you understand the difference between mobility and flexibility, you should know the correct answer to the above question. And that is, both! As has been mentioned earlier in the article, flexibility alone won’t do you much good. Good flexibility might look impressive but is not really a full measure of your overall fitness level.

On the other hand, since good flexibility is a part of good mobility, training for the latter can help address both! It is a good idea to incorporate some alternative training routines to your standard one in order to improve both flexibility and mobility. For example, good flexibility is one of the benefits of yoga, while good mobility is one of the benefits of martial arts.

In the case of both mobility and flexibility training, always ensure you are maintaining the correct posture. Avoiding such mistakes and preventing injuries is one of the reasons why you should get a personal trainer. If you are in Phuket and need help with mobility and flexibility training, drop me a line, and I’ll be glad to help you out.

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