Is mobility work a part of your regular fitness routine yet? You’ve probably heard of mobility by now, but when it comes to fitness, what exactly is mobility, and why does it matter? The American Council on Exercise (ACE) calls mobility (defining optimal mobility as what “allows a joint to experience full, unrestricted motion while controlling the constantly moving axis of rotation”) the cornerstone of fitness because it is what allows our body to move freely and with control.
Mobility has often been defined as where ‘flexibility + stability meet,’ though the National Academy of Sports Medicine more specifically says: “mobility describes joint motion flexibility speaks more to the extensibility of the soft tissues.” Mobility is your body’s ability to move through a full range of motion (flexibility can influence this) with control (stability is needed for this). However, you may have the flexibility within a muscle to move more ‘passively’ into a position, but if you have a joint limitation, you may lack the mobility to get there in a more active range of motion.
Within our workouts, we tend to use the term stretch or flexibility to describe more relaxing static or gentle dynamic stretching (though dynamic stretching can also be used in mobility work); while mobility usually keeps the body working on creating/moving within full ranges of motion (versus holding a stretch or position for a more extended period). You’ll also see a lot of mobility-style work in our warm-ups and cool-downs, though strength training (and almost any movement done through your body’s full range of motion) can also help improve mobility. A 2021 study found that maintaining a dedicated strength training routine was just as effective as stretching when it comes to increasing overall joint range of motion (source: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33917036).
Mobility is important because it allows us to move more efficiently and with greater control (which can translate into better performance in your daily life and workouts), while flexibility alone does not necessarily mean improved movement. Unless you have a personal goal to achieve a split or need to work on them for a specific sport (if you are a gymnast, for example), focus your efforts less on trying to get your nose to your knees (which is not always great for your back either, but more on that to come!) and more on coupling flexibility with stability.
While we often include mobility exercises both in our warm-up and cool-down segments, we are also adding some additional options you can fit in throughout your day or as an add-on during your regular workout. Our newest 10-minute full-body mobility series is available in your “All Access Pass” library in our new “Movement Snacks” collection here. Try it as a stress-relieving time out from your day, as an extended warm-up, or cool down to your favorite activity.
Join us for our “All Access Pass” membership, and try it free for the first 7 days! If you are tired of trying to keep up with complicated programs, hardcore extreme exercise and ripped and shredded ‘beach body’ ideals, then this is the place for you! We would love to have you join our incredible global community of women focused on (but not obsessed with) staying healthy, strong and fit. Come join our community and get annual access to our over 2,400+ hours (and counting!) of workout programming and series designed to help you stay CONSISTENT with exercise during all seasons of life. Click the link in my bio to learn more and try the membership free for the first 7 days. Learn more at https://www.jessicasmith.fitness/