Posted on February 29, 2024 by Emily Forbes

I (Emily), wrote a blog a few years ago about the difference between flexibility and mobility. These two are often used interchangeably but is not actually correct. Many people do want to be “flexible” but being “mobile” is the better option. And I’ll let you know why we should all train in mobility. Since, I wrote the last blog I have been focusing more on mobility training and have recently attended a course, which to be honest, I totally geeked out on.

Being flexible just means we can stretch passively into a position, but that does not mean we are able to actively use that position with control. So, we can think of mobility as flexibility + strength and control, which equals a useable range of movement. If this isn’t making sense to you, then carry on reading.

1. Mobility prevents injury

Imagine for a moment, you’re holding onto your dog lead and suddenly the dog chases a squirrel and yanks your arm back. Or you’ve slipped down the stairs and your hand was holding the bannister and pulled your arm back. Or in a sport somehow your arm is jerks into unfamiliar territory. Basically, an innocent act which causes the arm to suddenly enter into a new range it has not used to being in/trained in. We cannot move where we cannot move. Therefore, we have now pulled and injured something, perhaps badly.

It might not be the arm/shoulder. It could happen to the ankles, slipping off a curb. The groin/adductors/hamstrings slipping on ice or playing football. Maybe you do have flexi hamstrings and can do the spilts. But you can only do the splits after you’ve fully warmed up and taken your time to get into them. That’s not real life. Our active range is the space we can move into when the body is “cold”. Once we have a range of movement, we build up strength in that range which builds up more tissue making it stronger and more resilient. Sports and gym training only focuses on specific movement patterns but again life does not move like that. We can’t train in every way we might move but we can train joints strongly in their full range – mobility training!

2. Joint longevity

If we don’t use it, we lose it! The body is smart. It won’t keep hold of tissues, wasting energy on them if we don’t need/use them. This means our joints and range of movement will deteriorate. The tissues of joints – cartilage, ligaments and tendons and bone have a relatively low blood supply. Movement helps to get blood and fluids into these tissues which carry oxygen, nutrients and anti-inflammatory agents; all helping to nourish the joints.

Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers. We evolved to move. The further we stray away from the thing we have evolved to do, the further we stray away from health, this includes things like food too.

Mobility training is actually internal strength training. It should be used as a stand-alone and also as a support for your sport and gym training.