Mobility vs. Flexibility: What is the difference?
Fitness training involves a lot more than pure strength and cardiovascular training! Focusing on flexibility and mobility will help you to refine your performance! You will have a very hard time completing certain movements if you can’t reach the correct position necessary to perform them!
Flexibility = The range of motion at a joint.
Mobility = The ability to move efficiently/effectively.
Flexibility and mobility are both equally important elements of effective training programme. However, they should not be used interchangeably. The fitness industry is rapidly evolving, and coaches and athletes are now trying to integrate both flexibility work and mobility work into their routines.
What is Mobility?
It is not uncommon to feel stiff or have a reduced range of motion after a hard training session. Mobility refers to the capacity to move easily without placing unnecessary stress on the body. Mobility training can help to improve our range of motion and to decrease any restrictions we may have in functional movements. This is an extremely important factor for all sports at all levels.
So far mobility sounds pretty good! But how is it different from the stretching routine we have been practising for ages? The main difference lies in the fact that stretching normally focuses on just the muscles, whereas mobility is a more comprehensive system that addresses a number of elements that can influence our performance. According to Kelly Starret, (FoUNDER of Mobility WOD) this includes the sliding surfaces (muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia), and the joint and motor control necessary to perform a movement correctly.
What is Flexibility??
Flexibility comes under the umbrella of mobility and is a question of how well your muscles stretch. Good flexibility can be very helpful athletes in all disciplines. Flexibility is defined as “the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion". Mobility on the other hand, is the ability to move actively through a range of motion. Given that flexibility is a subcategory of mobility, it is important that we focus on mobility development as a whole.
How Can Mobility and Flexibility Complement Our Training?
With correct mobility, your chance of injury is considerably reduced. Mobility training also works to correct imbalances in our muscles triggered by tightness or wrong movement patterns.
Mobility, much like nutrition, is composed of various components that need to work in sync. It is truly a foundation point for the majority of your training. It will allow you to get into the best possible position for each movement, thus maximising its effectiveness.
The integrated patterns employed to train for mobility help to develop better squats, lunges, deadlifts, jumping, pushing, pulling and almost any kind of athletic performance. By focusing on better movement patterns, we can train better, reduce any risks of injuries and perform and achieve better results.
In short implementing both flexibility and mobility can help us to achieve our training objectives and serve to prevent injuries!
Mobility is ultimately an umbrella term for a range of factors that can affect the range of motion around a joint. One of these factors is flexibility. Flexibility plays a vital role – it is very hard to move a joint if the connected muscles around don’t stretch far enough. There are of course many other things to take into consideration that may impinge mobility: having the strength to perform the drills, soft tissue damage or even problematic joints in the same chain.
Why are mobility and flexibility important? In addition to helping achieve training goals, or improving overall performance, both will also affect your joint health in everyday life. If you are suffering from a general mobility problem that inhibits your movement, your body will cease to function correctly. Over time this can lead to more wear and tear, in addition to a general feeling of discomfort. When you exercise, you are effectively doing faulty movements under higher levels of intensity and stress which can lead to painful injuries.
At Nefeli Nine we will be running through flexibility and mobility drills every morning before breakfast, and every training session will begin with a mobility warm up.
Joint range of motion rules - always move your joints first
Move with strength, control and stability for continued improvement.
Use a foam roller only as an addition to your mobility program
Move gently and frequently - if you don't use it, you lose it