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Article Quick Glimpse
Flexibility vs Mobility - yes there is a difference!
Static stretching vs dynamic ‘mobility’ stretching
Benefits of Mobility training:
Improve physical performance
Minimise injury risk and compensatory movement patterns
Improving lift techniques and range of motion
Stable or Mobile what is the goal?
Flexibility vs Mobility - They’re not the same thing!
Some may think that the terms ‘mobility’ and ‘flexibility’ are interchangeable. However, this is not the case.
First let's start with flexibility.
This refers to the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to lengthen passively through range of motion about a joint. Joint movement tings!
Moving through the available range of motion should be pain free coming into resistance at the end of range as the muscle/s fully lengthen or joint ligaments prevent further movement.
That means you will start to feel a stretch or the limits of your joint mobility and it may be uncomfortable but good for you.
The end of range resistance will feel different based on the movement around the joint.
Straightening the knee (knee extension) will have a firm ‘end feel’
You will feel resistance behind or around your knee due to the ligaments in the knee that prevent hyperextension.
This also occurs the opposite way around:
bending the knee (knee flexion) will have a softer feeling pushing into the end of range
This is due to the compressing of the lower portion of the hamstring and upper calf into one another.
Assistance can be provided with someone pressing down and providing pressure at the end range to gauge the 'end feel' at the end range of a joint. That is called applying overpressure. An example of this would be someone helping you stretch your hamstrings to maximum hip flexion with a straight leg.
This extra range does not always have to be from the assistance of someone else. Another example of flexibility is your ability to lift your leg higher by pulling it up with your arms.
It's important to note that overpressure is not required with stretching but is used by therapists to assess possible causes of pain around joints or ligament integrity.
Load muscle through range
This means the muscles are actively contracting resulting in movement of our body parts.
This refers to the stretching of muscles when they are relaxed.
FACT: It is more effective to load a muscle through range rather than it stretch passively to increase its length.
Using weights or forms of resistance to execute load on a muscle through range is how this can be done.
For example; performing straight leg deadlifts (loading the hamstring muscles through range) will improve hamstring length greater over time compared to reaching for your toes (passively stretching hamstrings)
Remember this: “Strengthen to lengthen!”
Now, mobility refers to our ability to actively move our joints through range. This involves muscular control and strength to achieve.
Mobility is more relatable to improving physical performance in the gym and our functional capacity to perform daily tasks
When we mobilise through our available range of motion in our joints we NEED to contract the required muscles appropriately and in a timely fashion. This can be hard to do in for certain movements when we:
Have stiffness in our joints
Have tight tendons, ligaments or muscles in certain areas that can have an adverse affect
An affect could be tightness in one area prevents you from being able to contract required muscles for movement or exercise
Another affect could be tightness directly pulling on an area needed for a certain movement or exercise.
Contracting the required muscles through range of motion assists a smooth, correct movement which can lead to high performance and results.
You may be thinking..... yeah but how and what?
An example would be the beloved squat exercise.
A common mistake I see regularly is no contraction or firing of the abductor glute muscles through the movement which ensures a correct knee path over the toes.
Hip Abductors Can Be Seen Here.
Hip abductors and external rotators are used for keeping your knees out and they are used when doing this movement:
Therefore, if we can control this movement when squatting with motor pathways firing in sync, we get.....a drum roll please..... perfect exercise execution!!!
This is why mobility is so important for you to know and for you to take action on.
LUCKILY!!! For you I am currently making a mobility and stability training program to walk you through assessing yourself and giving yourself the perfect mobility plan. If you want first release and a little discount to that you will have to subscribe :).
Firing motor pathways in sync with one another is what allows our bodies to move effectively and minimises injury risk! Which is what we should all be striving for. To be our most optimal selves we want to be well balanced and highly functional bodies.
For example, if we can make ourselves aware of the external and internal rotation movements around our hip and improve our control of these actions we will be more likely to perform better with single leg movements in the gym!