Have you ever wondered about the difference between mobility and flexibility? The two terms seem to be used interchangeably, yet actually have different meanings. Fortunately, there is a simple explanation.
Flexibility refers to the ability of your soft tissue (muscles) to stretch. Mobility, on the other hand, is an umbrella term for the many elements that contribute to movement with full range of motion, including restricted muscle tissue, joints, the joint capsules, motor control, AND your soft tissue.
In other words, flexibility is part of mobility, and mobility is an umbrella term that includes flexibility.
Flexibility techniques, such as those you’ll find in yoga, focus on stretching the soft tissue of your body that is pliable enough to stretch. However, if you are like most people and have not spend your entire life in movement (and even if you have) much of this soft tissue will have formed itself into knots, AKA restricted muscle. This restricted muscle cannot be “released” by mere stretching or flexibility work. You have to do something in order to release this restricted muscle and get the knots out of your muscles.
This is where mobility comes in. Personally, when I use the term mobility, I’m usually referring to the part of mobility regarding restricted muscle tissue, and more specifically, the self-myofascial release techniques that focus on releasing restricted muscle. Self-myofasical release refers to self-massage or self-massage techniques. These techniques usually involve the use of a mobility tool, such as a lacrosse ball, a foam roller, or a KnotOut (more info on this guy below).
If you are not utilizing mobility techniques in addition to flexibility-focused exercises, you are depriving yourself of a practice that could dramatically improve your range of motion, your overall strength, and SO much more. These techniques help your mobility by:
- activating dormant muscles
- improving motor control through developing muscle awareness
- releasing trapped or restricted muscle tissue which can then be utilized by the body to stretch deeper or exhibit strength
Mobility techniques can also help to:
- reduce your risk of injury
- correct muscle imbalances caused by muscle tightness
- decrease pain in your joints by releasing muscle knots in muscles attached to joints
- release tension in your body caused by stress.
EVERYONE can benefit from self-myofasical release (mobility) techniques.
How do you start a mobility practice?
You’ll need two things:
- Knowledge of Self-Myofasical / mobility techniques
- Mobility tools
Self-Myofascial / Mobility Techniques
If you are a Member of the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area, you have access to many workouts in the Workout Library that include these mobility techniques.* (Not a Member yet? Click here to sign up for a FREE 7-Day Trial.) If you are NOT a Member, there are plenty of mobility videos demonstrating the use of a KnotOut available in this blog post on mobility.
If you want to jump straight to the good stuff, I created and released a workout program in April of 2016 titled “The Mobility Project”, which is a full-body workout program combining self-myofascial release techniques, bodyweight exercises, and deep stretching to greatly improve your mobility. This program includes workouts ranging from 19 – 80 minutes in length. It is a comprehensive guide to mobility techniques for EVERY part of your body, from the soles of your feet to the back of your head. Click on the photo below to learn more about The Mobility Project.
A mobility tool is fitness tool you can use to manipulate soft tissue, AKA release restricted muscles, relieve muscle tension and undo knots in your muscles. All of the mobility workouts mentioned here require the use of mobility tools, and more specifically, the use of a KnotOut. If you want to effectively participate in these workouts, you MUST purchase a KnotOut. I guarantee you that once you’ve learned the easy mobility techniques I show you in mobility workouts this is one fitness product that WON’T collect dust in a corner of your basement, next to your Shakeweight and other forgotten gym products. This is a mobility product that will open new doors in terms of flexibility. I use it every day, and I use it with my clients in almost every one of their workouts as well. If I had to recommend any product to you, in addition to the essentials like a yoga mat, block, and strap, I would recommend the KnotOut. Click here to get the best tool for increasing your flexibility FAST, and use the code “ManFlowYoga” for a full 25% off your total order.
Hint: I recommend starting with the Medium KnotOut Firm, and if you’d like to get another one, go for the Maxx Large Firm.
About The Author
Dean Pohlman is an E-RYT 200 certified yoga instructor and the founder of Man Flow Yoga. Dean is widely considered to be an authority on Yoga for Men. His workouts and programs have been used by professional and collegiate athletes, athletic trainers, as well as Physical Therapists in Texas.
Dean is a successful published Author through DK Publishing (Yoga Fitness for Men), selling 25,000 copies worldwide, in addition to being a co-producer of the Body by Yoga DVD Series, which has sold over 40,000 copies on Amazon since its release in 2016.
Man Flow Yoga has been featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine, Men’s Health, The Chicago Sun, New York Magazine, and many more major news media outlets.
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