Many patients will say that they have poor flexibility or mobility but are not really sure what they are referring to and use the terms interchangeably. Every single one of us can benefit from more mobility but it is very important to understand what it is and how exactly to go about improving it.The first thing that we need to make clear is that mobility training is NOT stretching, mobility training requires a lot of strength and control. When it is performed correctly it can be physically exhausting on the body. Many people spend hours dedicating time to improving their strength but are unaware of how important it is to also dedicate time for their joint mobility. I always question patients as to why they are not working just as hard to improve their mobility when they are spending many hours per week on their stretching and strength training. I do not want to mislead you into thinking that stretching is not beneficial for you however, it is important to note that something simple like a child’s pose or pigeon stretch is not enough to create significant long lasting changes to your joints/tissues. There is also a difference between stretching and mobility, so let’s take some time to understand what they are so we can be more clear.
Mobility is defined as the active control of a joint, it is the combination of strength, flexibility and control. Mobility training involves conditioning or priming joints at their end range of motion which then expands the joints workspace and contributes to long lasting changes.
Flexibility is defined as the passive control of a joint and flexibility training or stretching creates temporary changes to the tissues. Flexibility is the muscles ability to passively lengthen. Therefore flexibility is a component of mobility but mobility and flexibility are not interchangeable.