Mobility and Flexibility – The difference?
Often people will refer to mobility and flexibility as the same thing but there is a difference.
Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen on its own and is a passive movement. For example, can you touch your toes?! Mobility is more active and about controlling your movement in both the joints and muscles through their full range of motion. If you have good mobility, you should be able to move easily without stiffness. Mobility is an important component of fitness, allowing you to function normally in everyday activities and in ensuring your body’s longevity. Good mobility promotes healthy joints by getting a joint to move better rather than just a muscle. If your mobility is limited, then your range of motion will be, and this means you are just not going to move or perform activities as well as you should. Your muscles will become tighter and you will also have the added risk of injury.
So, in short, mobility allows the body to move more freely, and flexibility is how well you can stretch your muscles.
How can Pilates help?
Pilates is all about improving our movement patterns in all directions to boost mobility. It will take you further than a range you may use day to day in a joint. It also incorporates stretching which helps with both your flexibility and mobility. Our bodies are meant to move, and it is much happier when we do! We weren’t designed to spend long periods of time in static positions such as sitting at computer screens or watching television. The phrase ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ is so true! If you sit all day long then it’s very likely you will lose range (mobility) in your hips for example, particularly in the opposite direction to how you would have had them. The good news though is that with some basic corrective Pilates exercises, the body can again become freer and more mobile.
Mobility exercises are a must if you would like to keep your joints healthy, prevent injury and become more efficient in your movements. Flexibility, strength, and stability combined are all vital elements of mobility and why it’s so important to include mobility work in your training. As well as having good flexibility and mobility it’s also vital to be able to stabilise through our full range of movement. Pilates can do it all, so if you are not practising already maybe it’s time to give it a go!