Most people think that mobility and flexibility are one and the same, when in fact they are two very different concepts. Knowing the difference between them can help you in your quest to become a better “mover”.
Flexibility is defined as “the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion”, whereas mobility is the “ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion”. Mobility also takes into account the component of motor control within the nervous system.
Countless scientific studies have failed to prove that pure stretching will change your flexibility or mobility long term. Unless you have the time to sit in a stretch for 24 hours, unfortunately the effect is only temporary. If you are trying to stretch a muscle over a joint that has a mobility restriction you are going to get nowhere fast. The muscle will never be able to lengthen to its full extent as the joint won’t allow it to move far enough.
Mobility training is more effective than traditional “stretching” because it is based on movement and motor control.
Muscles require strength and stability in order to maintain new found range of motion.
It’s not unlike raising children. If you simply let them run free without creating safe, controlled boundaries, their chances of getting hurt increases. Teach them well and your investment pays off with strong, independent children who can make their way in the world with less risk.
The same goes for your mobility, your central nervous system will limit your mobility based on how much control you have as a way to keep your body safe. If you are strong and stable, your body will relax, knowing that you can control a bigger range of motion. If you are weak and unstable, your body will need to tighten up in order to prevent injury.
Yoga is a perfect example of mobility training. As much as there is pure stretching in there, most of the practice is active and takes you into poses that require strength and stability…the flexibility naturally follows.
If you would like to become a better “mover” check out my mobility tips below, and/or book a professional mobility coaching session with us today!
- Joint range of motion is king – move your joints first
- Mobility work is best done before you exercise
- Move with strength, control and stability to maintain gains
- Use a foam roller only as an adjunct to your mobility program
- Move gently and regularly – if you don’t use it, you lose it