Flexibility, Mobility, and Stability
March 7, 2023
How do flexibility, mobility, and stability work together? Is one more important than another?
Flexibility is the total range of motion of joint and the muscles that cross it. Flexibility is important as it is required to complete the most basic to the most complex tasks.
Mobility is the ability for a joint to have its full range of motion without restriction. Mobility is related more to complex and coordinated tasks and joints that work across multiple planes.
Stability is the ability to control a joint and its motion. It is vital in coordination of a joint with its movement and to support surrounding joints.
We can look at several joints in our body to see which joints are considered more mobile and which are considered more stable. Our mobile joints include our shoulders, hips, and thoracic spine. These joints give us the ability to move in many different directions and with different amplitudes of movement. Our stable joints include our cervical and lumbar spine and our knees. These joints are used more to control our motion. You will notice that most of our joints are adjacent to another joint of a different type. Meaning that our mobile joints are adjacent to our stable joints. This is important in dynamic movements, but also can cause issues when there are injuries. Often if you sprain your ankle you will notice some issues in your knee, this is because you have injured a mobile joint and now your stability joint has to work harder to allow for your normal mobility.
Whether you are in physical therapy or working out on your own it is important to work all of these aspects. Flexibility should be worked to improve your ability to maximize your mobility and stability. Mobile joints need to be worked to maintain ROM and stable joints need to be worked to strengthen their stability. As these things improve then you need to work to give your mobile joints some strength and your stable joints some mobility. This is where physical therapy can help find your baseline and build a plan to improve these areas and maximize your overall joint health and wellness.