Some time ago, I did an interview with Eric Cressey on ‘Young Athletes & Mobility Training’…
… You’re about to understand why Eric is considered one of the VERY best in the world:
BG: Eric, what is the difference between ‘Mobility’ & ‘Flexibility’ and when in a training program do each apply
EC: Those are great questions, Brian; very few people understand the difference – and it is a big one.
Flexibility merely refers to range of motion – and, more specifically, passive range of motion as achieved by static stretching. Don’t get me wrong; static stretching has its place.
I see it as tremendously valuable in situations where you want to:
- Relax a muscle to facilitate antagonist activation (e.g. stretch the hip flexors to improve glute recruitment)
- Break down scar tissue following an injury and/or surgery (when the new connective tissue may require “realignment”)
- Loosen someone up when you can’t be supervising them (very simply, there is less likelihood of technique breakdown with static stretching because it isn’t a dynamic challenge)
However, the principle problem with pure flexibility is that it does not imply stability nor preparedness for dynamic tasks.
As one of my mentors, Dr. David Tiberio, taught me, we need to have mobile-stability; there’s really no use in being able to attain a given range of motion if you can’t stabilize yourself in that position.
Excessive passive flexibility without mobility (or dynamic flexibility, as it’s been called) will actually increase the risk of injury!
Moreover, it’s not uncommon at all to see individuals with circus-like passive flexibility fail miserably on dynamic tasks.
For instance, I recently began working with an accomplished ballet dancer who can tie herself into a human pretzel, but could barely hit parallel on a body weight squat until after a few sessions of corrective training.
She was great on the dynamic tasks that were fundamentally specific to her sport, but when faced with a general challenge that required mobility in a non-familiar range of motion, she was grossly unprepared to handle it.
She had flexibility, but not mobility; the instability and the lack of preparation for the dynamic motion were the limiting factors. She could achieve joint ranges of motion, but her neuromuscular system wasn’t prepared to do much of anything in those ranges of motion.
The new ‘High School Strength & Conditioning Coach’ certification has become an overnight best-seller worldwide.
And for so many obvious reasons.
Eric Cressey authored the chapter on ‘Mobility & Flexibility’…
… Learn more about what he has to say on this young athletes topic: