Did you know there is a big difference between mobility vs flexibility?
If not, you’re far from alone!
Mobility is one of the most undervalued aspects of fitness. In fact, it’s usually confused with flexibility because the two are relative to that niche of fitness.
However, mobility and flexibility are not the same thing.
There are a ton of benefits to focusing on your mobility. Most notably, if you’re training for the Army Combat Fitness Test, high levels of mobility translate into better overall performance.
In this blog post, we will discuss what mobility is, why it’s important, and how you can increase your mobility using simple exercises and stretches!
Why is Mobility Important?
Mobility is important because it allows your body to move through its full range of motion.
This is critical for activities such as running, jumping, and climbing. All of these are skills you’re going to need during combat training, whether you’re entering the police academy or the armed forces.
Poor mobility can lead to a number of injuries, including ankle sprains, runner's knee, and low back pain.
In addition to preventing injuries, improved mobility also leads to better performance.
For example, if you want to improve your speed and agility, you need to have good mobility in your hips and ankles.
Does Mobility Help Prevent Injuries?
There is some evidence to suggest that improved mobility can help prevent injuries.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that increased hip and ankle mobility was associated with a decreased risk of ankle sprains in athletes. 
What is the Difference Between Flexibility and Mobility?
While the two are related, there is a distinct difference between mobility vs. flexibility.
Flexibility involves the direct lengthening of the muscle tissue.
Mobility deals with the ability of a joint (connective tissue) to successfully (and painlessly) move through a full range of motion.
The easiest way to remember the difference is by associating flexibility with muscle and mobility with joints.
Exercises to Test Mobility
Now that we know why mobility is important, let's take a look at some exercises that you can use to test your mobility.
1. Lower Body Mobility: Bodyweight Squat
The first exercise is the traditional bodyweight squat. This simple move will tell you A LOT about what you’ll need to focus on when it comes to your lower body.
Record yourself performing a basic squat. Hold the position at the bottom for a few seconds and slowly return to the starting position. Do this a few times, then review the footage.
How far were you able to squat down? Were your toes up? Were you struggling to keep yourself upright?
2. Upper Body Mobility: Standing Shoulder Reach
To do this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms straight out and overhead.
Focus on reaching back as far forward as possible and hold for two seconds before returning to the starting position.
How did you do? Were you able to lift your arms overhead? Could you bring your hands back past shoulder-line?
3. Hip Mobility: Windshield Wipers
Sit on the ground with your hands behind you for support. Bend your knees and move them from side to side like a set of windshield wipers.
Were you able to bring your knees completely to the ground with each pass?
Exercises to Increase Your Mobility
Let's take a look at some exercises that you can do to improve your mobility. This will be a combination of exercises and stretches because your mobility could be impacted by tight musculature that is being overused.
1. Wall Squat
Stand with your back against a wall and slowly slide down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this position for as long as possible.
2. Shoulder Reach
Stand in front of a wall, giving yourself about half a foot of space. Reach up overhead and focus on trying to touch your thumbs to the wall behind you.
3. Trunk Rotation
Lie on your back on the floor and place your hands behind your head. Bring one knee up to your chest and rotate your torso so that you can touch that knee with your opposite elbow. Repeat on the other side.
4. Side Lunges (Lateral Lunge)
The lateral lunge is a great exercise to improve your hip mobility. Stand with feet hip-width apart and take a large step to the right with your left foot. Bend your right knee and lower your body towards the floor while keeping your left leg straight. Push off with your right foot and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
5. Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on the ground and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Lunge forward with your left leg and extend your right arm overhead. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs and arms.
6. Ankle Dorsiflexion
Stand with your feet together and pointing straight ahead. Bend at the waist so that your upper body is parallel to the ground. Use your right hand to pull your right foot towards your buttock while keeping your heel pressed down. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs and hands.
7. Hamstring Stretch
Lie on your back on the floor and place one foot flat on the ground with your knee bent to 90 degrees. Use your hand to pull your thigh towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds before switching legs and hands.
8. Chest Stretch
Stand with feet hip-width apart and extend your right arm directly behind you, grabbing on to a wall or doorframe. Look straight ahead as the pectoral muscle is stretched out. Hold for 30 seconds before releasing the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
- Padua E, D'Amico AG, Alashram A, et al. Effectiveness of Warm-Up Routine on the Ankle Injuries Prevention in Young Female Basketball Players: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(10):690. Published 2019 Oct 16. doi:10.3390/medicina55100690.