Mobility vs Flexibility: Muscle Engineer Reveals The Real Difference

Think you know your squats from your sun salutations?

Mobility vs Flexibility: Muscle Engineer Reveals The Real Difference

We get it: you want a rig that puts Chris Hemsworth to shame. You don’t care about dorsiflexion or touching your toes.

But to reach your heady shreddy goals, you’ll need to stay mobile. Or was it flexible? If you are still consulting the brain box to work out which is which, this article is for you.

Cue: Muscle Engineered’s breakdown of mobility vs. flexibility, and how to improve both to reduce injury, and get better gains.

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As the online fitness coaching account explains, although they are often used synonymously, mobility and flexibility are different things.


“Mobility really has to do with motion surrounding a joint,” Muscle Engineered writes. “This can be the shoulder, hip, knee, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, ankle, etc.”

“Mobility is more of an all encompassing term that includes a lot of factors when considering if the joint of a person is mobile.”

Three things that affect mobility are: flexibility, structure and injury. Three things that help increase it are: warming up (increasing muscle temperature), stretching and massage (which increases blood flow and releases tightness).

Muscle Engineered gives the following example: “In a squat, a typical area that isn’t very mobile is the ankle, specifically dorsiflexion of the ankle. In order to get it more mobile you do some mobility drills to help open up the soleus.”

“That can include doing some half kneeling ankle dorsiflexion to target the soleus, using a foam roller to release the soleus, or maybe some jogging to warm up the leg muscles. Now you have gained more mobility in the ankle and can perform your squat with more depth.”⠀

The opposite situation, caused by injury, is explained in this second example: “You might have good ankle dorsiflexion, but if you got an ankle sprain or have a bone spur limiting you from achieving good ankle dorsiflexion, your ankle would no longer be as mobile. Therefore you lack the mobility.”


“Has to do with your muscles, tendon, and ligaments,” Muscle Engineered writes. “It’s the ability [to] elongate these components. Stretching is generally how you are able to increase the muscle length.”

“Flexibility is included with mobility, but mobility isn’t included in flexibility. This is because mobility is more of an umbrella term while flexibility just has to do with muscle length.”

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