Flexibility and mobility, while similar, refer to distinct concepts in exercise science and fitness. Flexibility and mobility are similar in that they both involve movement around joints and are important for overall health and well-being. They are also interconnected and can impact each other. For example, good flexibility can help improve joint mobility by allowing joints to move more freely through their full range of motion. Similarly, good mobility can help maintain flexibility by keeping joints and muscles active and moving. Incorporating mobility and flexibility exercises into your everyday life can be very beneficial. 

Key takeaways:

  • Flexibility is the range of motion around your joints and ability for your muscles to stretch while mobility is your ability to move freely.

  • You can maintain both mobility and flexibility with daily exercises like stretching, yoga, cardio, and strength training. 

  • Massage therapy and physical therapy can also help improve mobility and flexibility.

What is flexibility?

Flexibility is the range of motion around your joints and the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to stretch. Good flexibility allows for ease of movement and can help prevent injuries by allowing joints to move freely without being over-strained. 

Flexibility can be improved through stretching exercises and other forms of physical activity that involve a full range of motion. In addition to physical benefits, flexibility can also promote mental and emotional well-being by reducing stress and tension in the body.

What is mobility?

Mobility refers to your ability to move joints freely through their full range of motion. It involves not only flexibility but also the strength and control of the muscles surrounding the joint. Good mobility allows for smooth, pain-free movement and can improve performance in daily activities. Poor mobility can be a result of joint conditions, other chronic conditions, or age.

Mobility is important for overall health and well-being, as it helps maintain joint health and reduces the risk of injury. Improving mobility requires a combination of flexibility work and strength training, as well as exercises that focus on joint stability and control. Some common exercises for improving mobility include squats, lunges, and other functional movements that challenge the body to move in different ways.

Flexibility vs. Mobility: Who's affected?

Flexibility and mobility issues can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Some common factors that may contribute to both mobility and flexibility include:

  • Aging: As we age, our joints and muscles may become stiffer and less flexible, which can make it more difficult to move freely.

  • A sedentary lifestyle: A lack of physical activity can lead to muscle weakness and stiffness.

  • Injuries or surgery: Injuries and surgeries can lead to a reduced range of motion during the healing process and rehabilitation to regain full function. 

  • Poor posture: Poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances and reduced range of motion.

Mobility issues can also be caused by the following:

  • Chronic conditions: Chronic conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological or musculoskeletal conditions can impact mobility.

  • Obesity: Excess weight can put stress on the joints and muscles, leading to reduced mobility and increased risk of injury.

Poor flexibility can also be caused by the following:

  • Strain: Overusing certain muscles or engaging in repetitive movements can lead to tightness and reduced flexibility.

  • Genetic factors: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to reduced flexibility, which can make it more difficult to achieve and maintain good flexibility.

What helps with flexibility and mobility?

Improving your flexibility and mobility can help reduce the risk of injury and improve overall physical performance. You can combine flexibility exercises with mobility exercises to train your body and keep it loose. Improvement can be achieved through a combination of stretching exercises, strength training, and other forms of physical activity, including the following.


Regular stretching exercises can help improve muscle flexibility and range of motion in the joints. Stretching should be performed after a warm-up or workout, when the muscles are warm and pliable. There are two main types of stretching: static stretching and dynamic stretching. One involves holding a stretch for a period of time while the other involves more motion in the stretching. If you maintain a fitness routine, stretching is a great way for injury prevention.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that can help release muscle tension and improve mobility. It involves using a foam roller to apply pressure to different parts of the body.


Yoga is a great flexibility training exercise. It’s a form of physical activity that involves stretching and strengthening the body through a series of poses. It can help improve flexibility, mobility, balance, blood flow, and overall physical and mental well-being.


Pilates focuses on building core strength and improving overall body alignment and movement. It can help improve flexibility and mobility while also reducing the risk of injury.

Strength training

Building strength in the muscle groups surrounding the joints can help improve mobility and reduce the risk of injury. Exercises such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts can help build lower-body strength, while exercises such as push-ups and rows can help build upper-body strength. Be sure to know your limits and stretch to protect your muscle tissues from tearing.


Engaging in regular cardio exercise can help improve overall physical fitness, which can, in turn, improve flexibility and mobility. Activities such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming can all help improve cardiovascular fitness.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy can help release stress and tightness in your muscles and joints. Regular massage therapy can help improve your flexibility and mobility. It can also help reduce pain to make getting exercise more enjoyable! Unfortunately, massage therapy isn't covered by Medicare.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can also help you improve muscle stiffness and specific joint flexibility. A physical therapist typically guides you through a series of exercises to enhance, strengthen, and restore your mobility and/or flexibility. Luckily, Medicare does cover physical therapy if it’s medically necessary. 

Rest and recovery from flexibility and mobility exercises

Rest and recovery are important for maintaining flexibility and mobility. Overtraining can lead to muscle tightness and reduced range of motion, so it's important to find time to rest and recover between workouts.

At the end of the day, flexibility and mobility impact each other, so improving and maintaining both is important for your overall health and wellness. If you’re not sure how to create a routine to help you get moving—or you just don’t know where to start, explore these mobility stretches and exercises perfect for beginners!

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