Lacrosse balls. Foam rollers. Stretching routines. We all know that keeping your joints and muscles supple and pain-free helps you to feel and perform better. But did you know that mobility and flexibility aren’t the same?
In this post, I’m going to share a bit about how mobility and flexibility are related but different, and also talk about the benefits of incorporating regular mobility work into your fitness routine so that you can move better and decrease your risk of injury.
What is the Difference Between Mobility and Flexibility?
Let’s just get straight to the million-dollar question: How are mobility and flexibility different?
Mobility refers to active range of motion through your joints and muscles.
By contrast, flexibility refers to a muscle’s ability to lengthen passively through a range of motion.
Can you see the difference right off the bat?
Flexibilty is passive, which means a couple of things. You’re not fully controlling your body, per se, and you’re also getting an assist from gravity, another person, or a prop like a yoga strap. But with mobility, you’re driving the bus. You’re in control of your body, and you have the strength and coordination to move throughout a range of motion.
Have you ever seen someone who kind of flops up and down when he squats–his rear ends nearly reaching the floor? He clearly has great flexibility but lacks mobility if he can’t control his body (and, his booty).
One quick and important point: Flexibility is one aspect of mobility. The muscles that surround your joints need to be lax enough to allow the joints to move through a full range of motion. Static stretching is one way to become more flexible and can therefore help improve mobility. But a good mobility program will also include exercises that challenge your strength, coordination, and control.
Why Work on Mobility?
If you spend a lot of time in the gym, you might be thinking, “But wait–I’m supposed to be spending even MORE time working on mobility in between my workouts?!”
Yes. Yes, you are. Or at least, you should. Because prioritizing mobility will help you to feel better and move better, both in and out of the gym.
Do you ever feel kinda creaky? I’d be shocked if you didn’t if you’re like most busy working adults! Most of us spend way too much time sitting, and sitting creates a lot of tightness. Mobility work can help loosen things up a bit and relieve pain and tension in the process.
Working on your mobility can also help to prevent injury, both in and out of the gym. Mobility work promotes control, coordination, and (when well-programmed) symmetry in how your joints and muscles move when comparing the left and right sides of your body.
Think this doesn’t make a difference when you’re snatching a heavy barbell, or when you’re trying to PR a deadlift (or, when you’re trying to carry all 17 grocery bags in from the car in one trip, for that matter)? Think again. Yep, mobility work can definitely help you take your CrossFit results up a notch.
Ready to Improve Your Mobility and Flexibility?
Fortunately, working on your mobility doesn’t require a lot of time and effort. You can make big progress in just a few minutes per day, as long as you’re consistent! And, getting started is the hardest part. Once you realize how great it feels to mobilize, you’ll actually look forward to doing it.
But how do you get started? Well, for starters, you could join us for our free 6-Day Mobility Challenge! This challenge includes a 42-page ebook (yours to keep), as well as daily emails that provide instructional videos, motivation, and accountability.
Join us right now by clicking here!