Many people wonder about the differences between stretching, flexibility, and mobility. Especially when it comes to relieving pain and moving better for your athletic activities.

Now chances are, you already know what stretching and flexibility are. But not as many people know what “mobility” actually means.

So let us quickly share what we mean when we say “mobility.” Then we’ll reveal the important differences between mobility, flexibility, and stretching. Along with which one is most effective for resolving pain, preventing injury, and improving movement.

Here at The Ready State, we define “mobility” based on two components.

First, you should be able to put your body into any pose or shape that is normal for a human being. Like squatting all the way down. Or putting your arms straight up over your head without bending your elbows.

In other words, you should have access to the full range-of-motion for the human body.

But having access alone is not enough.

The second aspect of mobility is that you need to actually be able to function and move in those positions. In other words, you need to have the motor control skills to actualize your complete range-of-motion.

So mobility requires that you have both the range-of-motion and the motor control to express the full, pain-free movements that are native to the human body.

And it turns out traditional “flexibility” fails one of those two tests.

Based on our definition of mobility, flexibility fails the motor control test. Because it’s possible to have the “flexibility” to contort your body into extreme shapes. But without the motor control you need to actually function in those shapes.

For example, maybe you can extend your shoulder and elbow all the way over your head. But if we put a small weight in your hand, your arm would collapse.

That’s a sign you have flexibility. But not mobility.

Because with full mobility, it means you can both achieve the end-range positions of the human body and function in them. So not only would you be able to put your arms overhead — but you’d be able to hold a small weight in that position, too.

But that assumes you can get your arms over your head to begin with. And many people can’t even do that. Which is what we’d call a range-of-motion problem.

And when it comes to improving your range-of-motion, stretching is often the first thing that comes to mind.

So let’s talk about the difference between mobility and stretching now.

When you follow traditional stretching practices — like yoga — all you do is passively pull on your tissues. But it turns out there is a lot more to restoring full range-of-motion and mobility than that.

First, stretching doesn’t get your brain involved. And remember, even if your body has full range-of-motion, you don’t have true “mobility” until your brain develops the motor control to actually express that range-of-motion.

Also, unlike mobilizing, stretching does not look at your body as a system. It neglects key factors like your joints and sliding surfaces.

Mobility takes a systems approach to restoring your range-of-motion.

It accounts for all the varied ways your body can lose its natural ability to move. Mobilizing restores your joints, sliding surfaces, soft tissue, and even blood flow. Plus it helps you develop the motor control you need to express that range-of-motion in your daily life.

So while stretching is absolutely a part of mobility…stretching alone is also not enough.

To achieve full, pain-free mobility, you need a complete system that blends stretching with exercises to address your soft tissues, joint capsules, motor control, and more.

Which is why we created Virtual Mobility Coach.

Virtual Mobility Coach Gives You Customized Mobility Exercises To Resolve Pain And Move Better — Free For 14 Days

If you want to improve your mobility, there’s no better program than Virtual Mobility Coach. Virtual Mobility Coach gives you access to the same mobility exercises used by Olympic gold medalists, NFL quarterbacks, and more. Plus we customize the mobility exercises you receive based on the problem areas you have, your exercise schedule, and more.

Best of all, you can try Virtual Mobility Coach 100% free for 14 days. So click the button below to claim your free, 14-day trial right now.

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Programming & Content
Featured Daily Recovery Videos
Customized Pre- and PostWorkout Programming
Customized Pre- and PostSport Programming
Customized Programming for Pain and Injury
Library of More Than 4,000 Movement, Mobility and SelfCare Videos
Company Experience
Developed by a Doctor of Physical Therapy
Based on a New York Times Bestselling Book
Backed by 15 Years of Clinical Experience
The Company Who Made Mobility Mainstream 10+ Years Ago
Users & Popularity
Trusted by CrossFit Games Champions
Trusted by Olympic Gold Medalists
Trusted by UFC Champions
Used in All Four Branches of The Military (and Special Operations)
Used in All Four Major Pro Sports (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA)
Used by Over 100,000 Everyday Athletes
Mobilizations Used
Stretching & Yoga
Soft-Tissue Mobilizations
Joint Capsule Mobilizations
Sliding Surface Mobilizations
Additional Member Benefits
Monthly Members-Only Q&As with Dr. Kelly Starrett
Certified Coach Directory
Members-Only Forum
Weekly Live Downregulation Class (with Kelly Starrett)

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