Mobility v Flexibility


Increasing movement capability, mobility and flexibility is a goal of many people who start a pilates program.  

Mobility and flexibility are two very different aspects of movement capability and can be misunderstood as being the same.

Stretching doesn’t necessarily improve mobility and mobility training doesn’t always lead to improved flexibility.

Mobility refers to your joint range of movement and ability to have “functional’ movement to perform not only your daily activity, but exercise and any sporting activities you participate in.

Flexibility refers to the length of your muscles and also something called fascia.  

We’re all born with a predisposition to a certain amount of natural mobility and flexibility, but lifestyle does contribute significantly to either a lack of or a high degree of both. 

For instance, a desk worker could potentially have decreased flexibility and mobility due to a lack of movement and sitting with a folded compressed hip joint. But a tradie, potentially climbing ladders, lifting heavy objects and being mobile all day may have a higher degree of mobility and flexibility.

Also, postural imbalances can contribute significantly to decreased mobility and flexibility. 

You can also have too much mobility and flexibility! There needs to be just the right amount of tension in the body to enable coordinated and functional movement. This concept is called tensegrity, a combination of tension and integrity.

So how do you get the “tensegrity” in your body right?


Developing a daily stretching routine is one of the most beneficial habits you can have. If you don’t stretch your muscles and release tightness, the tensions in your body end up “pulling” on the joints and most importantly, your spine.

This can lead to daily aches and pains, a “stiff” uncomfortable feeling in your body, a lack of movement capability and potentially a nasty injury.

On top of stretching, having an exercise program that incorporates lengthening strength exercises will give you the integrity component of the tensegrity we’re trying to achieve.

This “lengthening strength” is a foundation principle of the pilates method of exercise and one of the reasons you get a “lightness” in the body after doing a pilates class.  

When you do daily stretching and a lengthening strength program long term, it’s as if you’re depositing movement integrity in to your body bank account that you can access for an entire lifetime.


All 360 joints in your body have an optimal “range of movement” and is called joint mobility.

Joint mobility gets compromised by lack of movement, poor flexibility, injury. Any or all of these can contribute to a lack of joint integrity and have the potential to speed up degeneration of your joints.

Joint degeneration is a natural process that occurs as we age, so anything we can do to slow down this process will help maintain excellent movement capability well in to old age.

Slowing down this process will also help decrease joint aches and pains and may prevent the need for joint replacement surgery, especially of the knee and hip.

It’s surprising how much mobility our joints have, but when we don’t move them through their full capability, they can get “rusty”.

If we use the example of a rusty door hinge, it needs to be moved and oiled to keep on working effectively. If it’s not looked after, exposed to the elements, and not moved, it will get rusty and seize up. And the longer you leave it, the more it will degenerate and eventually probably just collapse.

So being proactive and taking steps to slow down joint degeneration is essential to preserve their integrity and above all maintain quality of life as you get older!

The pilates exercise method is incredibly clever and complex.

It’s the only exercise method that is specifically designed to incorporate lengthening strength, joint mobility, flexibility, and the principle of tensegrity by correcting postural imbalances.

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