Flexibility and Mobility
Most will say that flexibility and mobility are one and the same. They think that stretching enough means being mobile and ready to move. But flexibility and mobility are not the same thing. A person can be super flexible and hold some seemingly impossible poses and yet have a difficult time performing basic movements and day to day tasks.
Flexibility is the ability to stretch a muscle. Mobility is the ability to move a joint actively through a full range of motion. To stretch your shoulder, you likely are holding it in one position. To mobilize your shoulder, you are taking it through its full range of motion by moving it forward, backward, side to side and in circles. A healthy shoulder will perform these movements in full range. A lack of mobility for an example is when one isn’t able to lift their arms up in the air, which can lead to a higher risk of injury or larger movement issues later on.
* Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to stretch.
* Mobility is the ability of a joint to move.
In order to have good joint mobility, muscle flexibility is necessary. Your hamstrings have to stretch in order to touch your toes. A person can have great flexibility but still have poor mobility. Not being able to touch your toes isn’t because of poor flexibility. This goes back to my article on stability and mobility. When the stabilizing muscles aren’t doing a good job, the mover muscles try to stabilize, but since that is not their job, mobility is limited.
Again, hamstrings are a great example. Many complain of tight hamstrings (back of leg) and not being able to touch their toes. Often though it’s not because the hamstrings are inflexible, they are over active. The pelvis has to be aligned properly and if it is not, the stabilizing muscles may not be strong enough. The hamstrings are attached to the back of the pelvis, so when the back of the pelvis tilts up, it pulls on and stretches the hamstrings, which in turn end up pulling back. So you have an over active muscle that is also over stretched. When you try to touch your toes, the muscle cannot stretch any more.
That takes us back again to stability and mobility. You must train the stabilizing muscles and also perform exercises that take your joints through a full range of motion.
Try these exercises…
Bridge/Single Leg Bridge
Kneeling Thoracic Rotations/Deep Lunge Rotations
Assisted Split Squat/Unassisted
Quadruped Alternate Lifts
Practice makes Permanent
Consistency is Key