Mobility and flexibility are important factors when it comes to exercising or even basic movements. While some people are naturally flexible and mobile, it may be harder for others. Find out how to improve these skills and make your life easier.

Benefits of Mobility and Flexibility

Mobility and flexibility may sound similar but they’re different and they each affect your fitness in important ways.

  • Mobility is how joint moves
  • Flexibility is the length of a muscle

Flexibility is a factor in your mobility. Both affect your joint health in everyday life.

Having bad mobility and flexibility can cause you to:

  • Suffer wear-and-tear
  • Feel general discomfort
  • Suffer painful exercise injuries that accumulate over time
  • Have problems in the knees and other joints

Ankle joint pain

How to Improve

While you may be picturing an hour a day dedicated to stretching, that doesn’t have to be the case.

According to strength and conditioning coach Matthew Ibrahim, you should simply focus on problem areas.

The most common are:

  • Hips
  • Shoulders
  • Knees
  • Upper back

Three steps you can take to help loosen these areas are:

  • Foam rolling
  • Mobility drills
  • Stretching

Foam Rolling

Massaging Lower Back with Foam Roller

Foam rolling

  • Sometimes painful but usually effective
  • Essentially a self-massage technique
  • Helps release tight spots in the muscles
  • Here are eight common foam roller exercises

Mobility Drills

  • Specifically geared towards training range of motion around joints
  • Here are four daily mobility drills you can try at home

Stretching

  • Naturally bendy people don’t need it (it may even make you vulnerable to injury)
  • It’s helpful for people who are fairly stiff and stops you from exercising correctly
  • Perform a few short stretches as part of the warm-up
  • Do longer stretches after a workout
  • Here’s a guide to pre- and post-workout stretches

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