While flexibility and mobility are both very important aspects of fitness, sport, rehab, and healthy daily living, they are very different from one another.
Flexibility is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to lengthen passively through a range of motion. Flexibility is typically achieved by stretching when your muscle relaxes and further lengthens. Holding static stretches can increase your flexibility and your range of motion around a specific joint. Stretching after a workout can be important to decrease tension, but its role before a workout may not be as important.
Mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion. It not only encompasses the ability of a joint to move within its capsule but also accounts for motor control. For this reason, mobility training may be more effective than traditional stretching. Mobility training is best done before a workout as the movement of joints and muscles is the best way to prepare your body for a workout. By improving your mobility, you improve your nervous system’s ability to activate your muscles. Like flexibility, it will also improve range of motion and decrease tension.
Regular mobility training helps to avoid the loss of strength that can come with aging and a sedentary lifestyle. The great thing about mobility training is that it doesn’t require large amounts of stress. You can develop an excellent mobility program that requires little time and effort but will overall improve daily movement and activity.
Overall, flexibility and mobility both have an important role in exercise and daily living, although mobility may have more benefits.