The definitions of mobility and flexibility are often times misconstrued. Some think they mean the same thing, while others understand one but not the other. Regardless, mobility and flexibility are two completely different, yet necessary, aspects relating to the body, and having the ability to do one doesn’t mean that you’re proficient at the other.
How is Flexibility and Mobility Different?
Simply put, flexibility deals with the body’s ability to lengthen or stretch when needed, while mobility has to do with the ability to move your body through a range of motions in a controlled manner. Flexibility is the passive form of movement that focuses on the capacity of the joints and tissue, and mobility is the strength within your flexibility.
The Importance of Flexibility
Your muscles have elastic components that help them stretch and elongate at will. Yoga, for instance, is designed to help improve overall elasticity and your body’s ability to lengthen. The more elastic your muscles are, the better toned and controlled they can be. Stretching is also a great way to alleviate muscle pain and cramps.
When the body has remained immobile for a long period of time, it’s almost required to stretch before you start moving again. The same applies after a long night’s rest or if you’ve been sitting long hours during the day. An inflexible body means that you’re unable to move in a full range of motion and attempting to be active without stretching may cause pain or injury.
This is precisely why you should stretch to warm up the body before partaking in any physical activity that requires huge range of motion. Failure to limber up may result in a pulled or strained ligaments, tendons, or muscles. If you ever feel constrained when reaching for an item or feel as though your body is not able to move as efficiently, that’s a telltale sign that you lack flexibility and need to stretch before continuing your activity.
Even the most basic bodily movements like bending, reaching, sitting, or laying down require you to maintain a certain level of flexibility. You can always measure one’s flexibility by how easy it is for him or her to move.
The Importance of Mobility
As you get older the body’s level of mobility begins to deteriorate, especially if you haven’t remained active over the years. The less mobility you possess the more unstable the body becomes, often resulting in an inability to perform certain tasks. Proper movement is needed to build strength, power, and endurance making mobility the foundation for these specialized skills.
Most joints in the body, including the shoulders, hips, upper back, and ankles, require mobility in order to function. These areas are responsible for some of the most basic bodily movements done throughout the day. To move freely without stress also depends on your body’s level of flexibility.
To measure your mobility, stand up straight and try to rotate your shoulders to fully extend your arms over your head. If you’re able to move your arms and shoulders this way with very little resistance or tension, that means your shoulders have great mobility. If you experience difficulty, your shoulders lack mobility.
Start to perform regular rotating or back and forth motions, depending on the joints. See where you feel any tightness, pain, or resistance. It’s especially helpful for elderly individuals who are not as active as they used to be. Your muscles require movement once in a while to keep them from becoming too tight.
If you feel as though your body is starting to lack mobility with age, you can always stretch, whether you exercise regularly or not. Being more flexible is the best way to maintain healthy range of motion.