Mobility and flexibility NOT the same, they are in fact, two very different concepts. Understanding the difference between them will allow you to move better.
Flexibility: the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion
Mobility: the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion.
A lot of structures dictate how good our mobility is. It is not simply muscles stretching over a joint, but importantly how far the joint moves within the joint capsule. Mobility also relies on motor control within the nervous system.
A myriad of scientific studies have failed to prove that effects of stretching are able to be maintained long term. Unless you have the time to sit in a stretch for 24 hours, unfortunately the effect is only temporary. Furthermore, if you try to stretch a muscle over a joint with a mobility restriction you are going to have limited, at best results. The muscle will never lengthen to full extent if the joint won’t allow it to move far enough.
Since Mobility training is reliant on movement and motor control, it is much more effective than traditional stretching. The central nervous system limits mobility based on how much control we exercise, as a means to keep protect our body. As such, you could spend all day stretching towards a flat split, but if you can’t actively get into that position, your split is only temporary. Soft tissues, need strength and stability, to maintain range of motion.
Motion is lotion. Movement lubricates the joints, meaning, you more likely to realise greater range of motion more easily. Mobility work as a part of your training allows you to strengthen your body in new movement patterns and as such improve range of motion AND the effects will last.
For ongoing mobility, including regular mobility training in your schedule is a must. Ideally, to maintain and improve increased mobility, you will need to practise daily.
- Joint range of motion is king – move your joints first
- Move with strength, control and stability
- Use tools such as Yoga Tune Up Balls or a Foam Roller only as an adjunct to your mobility program….you can not ONLY rely on these tools
- Move gently and regularly – if you don’t use it, you lose it