Flexibility vs. Mobility: What’s The Difference
It’s Friday night and you’re watching the game. You see a cheerleader hit the splits at the top of a pyramid and admire her flexibility. But even though gracefully stretching your foot above your head can be awe-inspiring, there is starting to be a shift in the fitness community that prioritizes mobility over flexibility.
But what exactly is mobility, and how does it differ from flexibility? We asked health and fitness specialist, Amanda Noyce, to weigh in.
Question: So, flexibility and mobility. What’s the difference?
“Flexibility is a term to simply describe the ability a muscle has to stretch,” said Amanda Noyce, a health and fitness specialist. “Mobility encompasses more including muscles, joints, soft tissues, and motor control that contribute to the body’s ability to move with a full range of motion.”
Question: Why are they both important?
“Without good flexibility, you can’t truly have good mobility, and both impact the way you perform everyday tasks. Flexibility lengthens the muscle, allowing you to have more joint range of motion, which is mobility. If your muscles are tight, you won’t be able to move as freely, and you are at a higher risk for injury,” Noyce said.
Question: How will this impact my overall performance?
“Well for one, you’ll have significantly less risk of injury. Developing and maintaining mobility and flexibility will increase your quality of life by allowing you to be active longer,” said Noyce.
Noyce also said that in sports, greater range of motion or mobility, is very important to increasing performance.
“Take a pitcher, for example. Without good shoulder mobility and flexibility, they won’t be able to pitch nearly as fast or as well, and they will increase the risk of tearing their rotator cuff.”
Now that we better understand the differences between mobility and flexibility, it’s easy see that they go hand-in-hand. Mobility encompasses the way that your joints, muscles, and soft tissues work together to give you a full range of motion.
So, the next time you see that cheerleader, you’ll understand that flexibility might help her do the splits, but it’s actually her mobility in conjunction with her flexibility that lets her pull off the full routine.