To many this might just sound like an argument in semantics. That might be, but I assure you there is a vast difference between mobility and flexibility and it matters-particularly as we age.
Flexibility is the motion a joint can do. Unless you’ve had a surgery-like a fusion-everyone has similar flexibility. Flexibility is also often meant to mean ‘stretching’. Often this stretching is done as a relaxing strategy and you are encouraged to relax into the stretch.
The problem with flexiblity is that it is VERY fleeting. You will feel great and ‘flexible’ after stretching for minutes to maybe an hour and they you go right back to being tight. It doesn’t make sense. For example, if you learn to play a song on the piano and then stop practicing for a week. Upon returning to play, you’ll still have the ability to play the song reasonably well compared to a week before. Or if you can walk a mile in 15 minutes without problems, if you take a week off and return you’ll be able to do walk the mile just about the same as before.
So why is it so different with our ‘flexibility’?
It’s because of all the reasons you’re ‘tight’, stretching doesn’t solve the underlying causes making you tight. It’s a horrible strategy-yet it’s our default setting.
I’m tight therefore I need to stretch.
Enter MOBILITY. Mobility is one’s ability to move the joint in it’s fullest range of motion. How are the two different. Think of flexibility as passive joint movement, and mobility is the active movement of the joint. Here’s an example, while standing bend down and touch your toes with your leg straight. That’s a stretch or flexibility. You are relaxing into it and using gravity to help you get there. Now while standing straight, raise one leg as high as you can keeping it straight as well and hold it. You’ll notice it’s MUCH harder. This is mobility. And that’s why you aren’t seeing the progress you’d like, because muscles move joints and if you don’t have strength no amount of relaxing and stretching is going to solve your ‘tightness’ or ‘inflexibility’ issues.
Here’s a client working on her hip mobility. It doesn’t look like any ‘stretch’ you’ve ever seen but it’s VERY effective. We are using sound bio-mechanical principles of reciprocal inhibition-meaning when one side of the joint contracts/flexes, the other must relax and stretch.
This is just one of the ways we address your mobility problems.