You have been flexible your whole life, but how is your mobility? What's the difference anyway? There is a difference and they are both very different and important when it comes to your everyday life tasks. Both are important to have and unfortunately, both are often overlooked.
Flexibility is defined as “the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion,” and mobility is the “ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion.”
Each has their own benefits and importance to our health.
Flexibility helps you to prevent injuries and keep your body in overall better condition in your everyday life. Without flexibility, it’s difficult to move around and exercise doesn’t sound that appealing. When you have greater flexibility, your posture also improves and you will find your overall range of motion improve, giving you the ability to not only perform everyday activities more efficiently, but keep your body in check when you hit the weight room or head to that new exercise class you signed up for. In other words, flexibility will give you the ability to perform any exercise correctly. Keep in mind that everyone is different meaning your flexibility will be different than the guy doing heavy lifting next you at the gym.
Improvement in your performance during physical activities.
Decreases your risk of injury.
Help your joints to move through their full range of motion.
Increases muscle blood flow.
Enables your muscles to work most effectively.
Improves your ability to do daily activities.
Decreases onset muscle soreness.
How often Should You Perform Flexibility Training?
Anytime, anywhere. According to The American College of Sports Medicine, it’s recommended that you stretch 2 - 3 times per week to see results, but daily stretching is where it’s at. This can be tough to think about and discipline yourself to do, so getting with a personal trainer to help motivate you and guide you through a complete stretch routine after your workout can help.
As you go through your stretch routine, move into your stretches slowly, allowing your muscles to warm up to prevent tears. Each joint can be stretched for up to 60 seconds at a time then move on to the next. Do this a few times throughout your busy week and you will not only see your muscle flexibility improve, you will feel it! Also keep in mind that before beginning your exercise routine, not matter what it is, give yourself 5 - 10 minutes before and after to stretch for a good warmup and cool down.
Without flexibility, we can’t have good mobility. Each goes hand-in-hand when it comes to your health, but one of the biggest differences between the two is mobility requires strength. Think of mobility as having strength within your flexibility. Think about the last time you pushed that dumbbell or barbell up over your head - your range of motion greatly depends on how good your mobility is.
Aside from your hips having the ability to go deeper into your overhead squat, you need good mobility in order to get up and down from a chair, walk up the stairs and throw ball with the kids, for example. So the more you are able to move around without pain or restriction, the more you can comfortably strength train and perform normal, everyday activities.
Test Your Mobility
Your personal trainer will test your mobility before beginning an exercise program so they can properly design a workout routine that is right for you, and so they can help improve your mobility in the areas that need improvement. One way you can do this at home is to stand up and try rotating your shoulder by fully extending your arm straight over head. If you’re able to freely move your arm and shoulder in that direction, then you have good mobility in your shoulder. If you feel you are restricted or you can’t perform this movement, your shoulder mobility needs improvement. The good news is, there are ways you can improve your mobility overtime.
Improve Your Mobility
Practice Mobility Exercises - For example, if deadlifts are part of your workout routine one day, try mobility training by doing internal and external hip rotations, spinal rotations (with arms extended out forming a “T” and controlled leg swings). Talk with your personal trainer for more ideas!
Foam Roll - Foam rolling, or self-myofascial stretching, can help increase blood flow to the area you are targeting and loosen up tight muscles and joints which can help improve your range of motion.
Challenge Your Body in a New Range - Increasing your range a little at a time by two or three degrees can increase your mobility overtime. For example, if you slowly change the mobility in your ankle joint just a little bit at time, this will improve and change how you walk up and down the stairs, run, walk the dogs and play with the kids.
When it comes down to it, mobility and flexibility are part of the puzzle to a good quality of life. Taking them seriously and making time to breath, stretch and move your body will do you good for the long run! Trainers Spot has personal trainers who specialize in mobility and flexibility training. Contact us to get started!