Mobility is often overlooked when thinking about physical health, yet it impacts nearly every part of our daily lives. What exactly is mobility? Is it the same as flexibility? In this blog post we’ll discuss the difference and why it is important. Lastly, we’ll discuss how Pilates can help improve your mobility as well.
What is mobility?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes mobility as “the quality or state of being mobile or movable.” Mobility is your foundational, physical ability to move throughout your day doing everything you need to do with ease. Anatomically speaking, it’s the range of motion and flexibility around the joints with the strength necessary to support it.
Mobility can involve bending over to unload the washer and dryer, walking up and down the stairs and getting dressed. More complex mobility could involve yard work and house repairs. Limited mobility can make daily tasks difficult, painful or completely ineffectual.
For example, those with a condition that limits mobility, like rheumatoid arthritis, may struggle with mobility making daily tasks challenging. Depending where the arthritis is, will dictate where the struggles are. RA in these hands can make buttoning a shirt, preparing dinner or answering emails via typing a challenge. Conversely, if the RA presents primarily the feet and knees, simply walking and moving from sitting to standing may be painful.
What is the difference between mobility and flexibility?
Flexibility is a key part of having healthy mobility, however it is a different skill. Flexibility is the range of motion you have in a passive state with the ability for the muscles around that joint to stretch.
For example, someone with significant flexibility in their hips and legs may be able to do the splits, which is a passive state. Should they also have strength to balance that level of flexibility, they’re likely to have excellent mobility as well.
Let’s refer back to the daily task of loading and unloading the washer and dryer. While bending over to move clothes in and out, flexibility is needed in the hamstrings and spine. If squating is involved, add in hip flexors, knees and ankles. Supporting this flexibility is strength throughout the core and legs. Moving the clothes in and out calls upon upper body strength in the arms, chest and back extensors. The balance of these parts working in tandem provides the needed mobility to get the task done.
Is Pilates good for mobility?
Yes, Pilates is excellent for mobility. The Pilates method trains the body with low-impact strength training while the body moves through various ranges of movement. Occasionally static
stretches are incorporated into a Pilates workout, however much of the flexibility gained is through movement. During this movement the body is both stretching and strengthening simultaneously, thus expanding the body’s mobility.
Pilates is excellent for mobility training, however, unlying conditions or injuries preventing healthy mobility should be addressed. Injuries or chronic conditions should be known by your doctor. Discuss with your health care provider how physical therapy or Pilates may help you improve those conditions or as rehabilitation from injuries.
Whether you have excellent mobility you’d like to maintain or looking to improve it, Pilates can help. ProHealth Physical Therapy is a fully equipped Pilates studio in Peachtree City, GA that has a full staff of certified Pilates instructors. Classes are available online and in-person. Visit the website today to get started.