The Answer to Your Stiff Body

If you have been working out for at least six months, stretching regularly, and having very little success releasing tight muscles, this three part article could be your solution.

Here’s an overview!

First article released TODAY! -The difference between flexibility and mobility. 

Second article released this Wednesday! -The difference between tight vs taut muscles and why you can’t stretch a taut muscle to see results. 

Third article released Friday! – How and when to work mobility in to your workout for superior results

Fourth Article released next Wednesday! – How to increase mobility in some of the most problematic areas

So what’s the difference between flexibility and mobility? To put it simply:

Flexibility = the length of a muscle

Mobility = how a joint moves.

Don’t skimp over those two definitions, go back and digest them for a second. Each joint is an interconnection of muscles, connective tissue, bone, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. “Flexibility” speaks to the movement of a group of muscles but doesn’t necessarily mean your shoulder will move overhead easily. If you have too much flexibility on the back of your shoulders and too little on the front, you will end up with stiff shoulders.

Mobility describes a “flexible” quality that allows a joint to move through a broad range of motion. It describes a group of muscles that has sufficient length and strength to allow a joint to move freely. Your body doesn’t care about how well you move, it cares about keeping you safe through the movement. If you have too much flexibility it will lock you down to keep you from extending beyond your body’s safe range of motion.

Lets apply this for better understanding. Take your shoe off and straighten your knee so your leg is straight in front of you. Use your ankle strength to point your toe toward your head. If we’re tight and just thinking about flexibility we say, “my calf muscles must be tight so I have to stretch them”. If we’re thinking about mobility we say, “My ankle doesn’t want to flex this way so I want to work on the movement because the muscles that resist my toes pointing up are locked down and the ones that pull my toes up aren’t working well enough to do their job.

Even physical therapists, who are well versed in anatomy, are moving further in the idea of treating movement over muscles.  Therapists understand that the movement only occurs because a muscle is activated and then creates force through it’s contraction moving a body part, therefore using the movement as the base is being considered more and more sound.

So even though we use equipment like foam rollers, lacrosse balls and marathon sticks to increase our flexibility, we’re always doing it with the goal of restoring mobility to mobile joints and strength to strong joints.

Be sure to come back and catch our next article on Saturday by following our blog to continue down the path to figuring out how to release your tension and move better.