FLEXIBILITY VS MOBILITY
Flexibility and mobility, while often used interchangeably, are actually not the same thing. Flexibility is defined as the body’s ability to achieve a certain position, and usually involves outside forces that move the body part into that position (i.e. using straps, having a partner push you into a position etc.). Mobility is defined as the ability of you to ACTIVELY move your body into a certain position without assistance.
A good example of this is the hamstring stretch vs the active straight leg raise for the hamstrings. The classic hamstring stretch (a) is an example of hamstring flexibility, while the active straight leg raise (b) is an example of hamstring/hip mobility. While this difference may seem small, it has large real-world implications.
Often, I find that people have fairly large differences in their flexibility and mobility for certain joints or movements. This large difference may place you at risk for future injury. The reason for this is that if your joint has the ability to achieve a position with assistance, but actively cannot achieve this same position, then you don’t have full control over that position. This lack of control means that you are susceptible to injury.
This difference in flexibility and mobility is why it is usually more effective to perform active end range strengthening drills to improve your range of motion. Performing these drills, as opposed to passive stretches, will allow you to gain strength and control over your end ranges of motion and ultimately improve your range of motion more rapidly and permanently.
I am certified in and utilize the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) as part of my practice. The SFMA is a thorough and efficient movement assessment that allows me to identify areas of decreased flexibility, decreased mobility, and altered stability/motor control in my patients. Utilizing this assessment allows me to streamline evaluations and develop plans that will quickly help to improve your mobility and get you moving pain free again.
If you have any questions about the SFMA, want to schedule a movement assessment, or believe that decreased flexibility/mobility might be playing a part in your current injury, email me at DrRyan@proletept.com!