Flexibility versus Mobility

Fitness & Training Tips
By Jade Loney
Jade Loney

About Jade Loney

I’ve always had a passion for health and fitness (I’m currently studying nutritional medicine.) However, it wasn’t until I started training at Ignite that I fell in love with CrossFit and the awesome community that came with it. CrossFit has helped me reassess what fitness means to me and shifted my focus to performance. The human body continually amazes me with what it is capable of and that fascination is what led me to become a trainer; to help others find their own strength and confidence! I’d love to make it to Regionals one day but even if I don’t, I’ll have enjoyed every step of the chase. If I’m not working I’m usually here training so if you see me on the floor please say hi! I don’t bite that much. 🙂
Ever wondered what the difference between flexibility and mobility is? Maybe you thought they were the same thing… they are in fact very different concepts! Understanding the difference between the two may just be the key to helping you move better, stronger and longer in training and life.
Flexibility is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to move passively through a range of motion (i.e. stretch). Mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion.
So what should you be focusing on? The answer is… both. Sort of.
Mobility of the joints rely on the flexibility of the muscles – it’s difficult to move a joint if the connected muscles around it don’t stretch enough to allow it. But mobility encompasses so much more! It’s not only muscles stretching over the joint but also how far the joint can move within the joint capsule and the component of motor control within the nervous system.
So while static stretching may be helpful in increasing your mobility, it’s not going to do that much to help you if there are other restricting factors at play, such as soft tissue damage, joint capsule restrictions, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction and neural dynamic issues.
How you can incorporate mobility into your program:
Self-myofascial release: all of those foam rollers and various balls aren’t sitting in the corner of the gym for no reason, use them to roll out and release tight or contracted muscles.
Static stretching: stretch short, tight muscles to improve your flexibility.
Joint mobilisation: using stretch bands to provide distraction at a joint can help break up adhesions and stretch the joint capsule itself.
Mobility can be performed before or after a workout, however mobility before your workout will  provide you with greater range of motion in your movement and also allow you to strengthen your body in your new and improved range of motion, leading to a longer lasting effect.
If you think you’d benefit from including extra mobility in your workouts, try out some of the mobility sequences on the board. Mobility should be a proactive approach, not a reactive one. Invest the extra time now and reap the benefits for the rest of your life!