What is the Difference Between Flexibility and Mobility?  In this episode, Matt and Rick discuss flexibility vs mobility and why it is important. Spoiler alert- there is a BIG difference. Learn how Alloy programs around this concept and how we keep clients moving well and living life to the fullest!

Flexibility is the type and range of motion you can achieve passively. Passive means that you are not under load, and you are not controlling it. For instance, if you lie on your back and someone pushes your leg up to the farthest it can go.

Mobility is how much range of motion that you have actively, meaning you can use it and control it. Flexibility and stability together make mobility. You have to control the flexibility so that you can use it. So the big difference here is that flexibility is passive while mobility is active.

So how do we go about evaluating flexibility and mobility and helping clients fix those problems for better mobility?

We use the Functional Movement Screen to measure mobility. For the general population, a good dynamic warm-up and good exercise are sufficient to improve their mobility. Along with these, you have to manage their lifestyle to keep them safe and strong enough. Let’s examine how flexibility and mobility differ. 

For example, one functional movement screen test measures an overhead squat. The client gets in position with heels lined up and squats down as deep as the client can go. Let’s say they get a quarter of the way down and the squat breakdowns, like maybe the knees knocked together. They lose a little bit of like their stability, and they just stop and come back up. From the perspective of flexibility, you might say the person is not flexible enough.

Now what if you have the  same person on their back with arms overhead while keeping a neutral lumbar spine, and you ask them to pull their knees up towards their chest with no loading.  Now they’re able to pull their knees up into a position that looks like a perfect deep overhead squat. Now was this really a flexibility issue?  The answer is no – It’s a motor skill issue. It’s a mobility issue because when standing when under the load of gravity they lacked the stability to stabilize their spine while the core was firing. So it wasn’t a stretching issue. So if you had said I need to stretch this person more to get a deeper squat, you would have been completely wrong. So the fix isn’t always flexibility. It’s stability and flexibility together, which makes mobility.

In real life flexibility and mobility are not the same thing. When programming for the general population, mobility is more valuable than flexibility. You can use it in your normal day to day activities and thus improve the quality of life.

Key Takeaways

  • COVID gym update (01:42)
  • What is the difference between flexibility and mobility ((08:05)
  • Why mobility is more valuable than flexibility in real life (12:02)
  • How we use the Functional Movement Screen to measure mobility (12:54)
  • Taking a holistic approach towards achieving mobility (18:42)
  • How managing lifestyle may be better for mobility than any other correctives (23:44)
  • How to we work on mobility for our clients through in the gym (26:27)



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Mentioned in this episode

Matt Helland

Rick Mayo 

Alloy Personal Training Franchise



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