What is the difference between mobility and flexibility? While both of these terms describe the movements of muscles and joints, there is a major difference between passive range of motion and active range of motion. Many people think mobility and flexibility are the same thing and that some simple stretching before or after a workout will help them stay healthy. This is a common misconception and one that can cost you as you age. They are in fact two different things and for the vast majority of people over 40, mobility is more important.
As mentioned above, both of the terms describe the movement of muscles and joints, with flexibility pertaining to passive range of motion while mobility pertains to active range of motion. In other words, flexibility typically means how far a muscle group or joint can be taken through its range of motion by a force acting upon it (such as happens when you stretch) while mobility means how far you can actively take a group of muscles or joint through its range of motion by using those muscles and your neurological system. Good mobility requires healthy muscles, neurologic control, balance, and coordination – all working together as a system.
If you want to stay healthy and active as you age, it is far more important to focus on overall mobility with active exercises and stretching rather than flexibility with just stretching alone. If you don’t exercise with mobility in mind, you are far more likely to get injured, develop chronic pain, and suffer a decrease in athletic ability in the things you love to do.
A good mobility workout routine will have the following characteristics:
- Exercises that require multiple muscles to work together at the same time rather than just one muscle at a time
- Exercises that require movement of multiple joints at once rather than just one joint.
- Exercises that work all planes of motion: front and back, side to side, up and down and rotation.
- Exercises that challenge your balance and coordination.
These are a few examples of some great mobility exercises we use in the FITFOREVER program to keep our members active and mobile:
If you’d like to safely increase your mobility, give FITFOREVER a try FREE for one week. It will change your body and change your life.