Many people confuse flexibility and mobility.

Indeed, they are two closely related concepts.

While taking care of your body (and your mind, too!), the goal should be to improve mobility. However, to improve your mobility, you need to improve your flexibility first.

Let’s see what’s the difference and how you can address them.


When Do You Need Flexibility

During your P.E. classes at school, you probably learned that flexibility means touching your toes.

Flexibility, as you might now have guessed, is so much more than that. Flexibility is  the passive range of motion of your joints or groups of joints.  It means how much someone can move their joints from one end range to another.

Flexibility is an ability. It is something we are all born with but that we tend to lose with our sedentary lives. You can improve your flexibility with stretches and dedicated exercises like Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi. Working on your flexibility is a great gift we can do to our body, especially while we age. Amongst many benefits, stretching reduces the risk of injury and limits joints’ stiffness.

In addition, flexibility starts in the mind, and stretching has several benefits for your mental health.


When Do You Need Mobility

Mobility is a joint’s ability to move actively through a range of motion instead of the passive movement of the definition of flexibility. If you are mobile, it means you can move freely without being inhibited by stiffness or stress.

To be mobile, your joints must be flexible, stable, and strong enough to allow a full range of motion. By performing regular stretches and exercise, you can build flexibility, stability, and strength to improve your overall mobility.

So, the answer to “when do you need flexibility and mobility” is “always.” Your body will thank you for that. Both flexibility and mobility are crucial in supporting you in your everyday activities, movements, and postures.

Stretching to improve flexibility and mobility

There are different types of stretching that you can do to improve your flexibility and mobility, combined with activities like Yoga and Pilates.

Dynamic stretching

You move in and out of a position, and you do not hold the stretches for a prolonged period.

Static stretching

Your muscles are extended in a specific position for some time (15-60 seconds).

To improve your flexibility and, eventually, your mobility, you should always warm-up before a workout – no matter how “intense” it will be – and cool down after.

When warming up, you should go for dynamic stretching, maybe even mimicking some of the moves you will perform during your activity. Dynamic stretching will warm up your muscles, activate your body and get it ready to work. For example, if you are going to swim, you might circle your arms before getting into the water. Other examples of dynamic stretches for warming up are lounging with a torso twist, hip circles, spinal rotations, or arms swing.

On the other hand, when you cool down, you should perform static stretching. This involves stretches that you hold in place for a while, without movement. When you are in a hurry, it might be tempting to ditch stretching at the end of your workout. However, you should always leave some time to do it (even just a few minutes) – it simply has too many benefits to be ignored. Stretching will lead to greater flexibility and increased range of motion. Also, it will improve your performance and decrease your recovery period.


Stretching is not just for your body.

Research shows that stretching can lift your mood and lower your stress levels. Therefore, stretching contributes to your overall wellbeing in many more ways than just improving your flexibility.

Tools to add to your stretching routine

The good news is that you don’t need a ton of equipment to work on your flexibility and mobility.

Some useful tools to have are a foam roller, trigger point balls, roller sticks, yoga balls, and blocks.

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