Flexibility and mobility have been topics of interest especially in the context of exercise, stretching, and yoga. In this short guide, we’ll take a look at both mobility and flexibility and how they work together to improve your athletic performance.

We’ll then take a look at the correct times to stretch and examples of yoga poses that can help you become more mobile and flexible.

What is the Difference Between Flexibility and Mobility?

In a nutshell, flexibility refers to the ability of muscles to lengthen, while mobility is the ability of joints to move along the entire range of motion without any restriction or sense of discomfort.

Simply put, flexibility is about muscles, whereas mobility is related to joints.

With that distinction in mind, we should work on mobility during pre-workout, and then focus on flexibility during post-workout.

Pre-Workout Exercises to Improve Mobility

In order to increase mobility and facilitate a wider range of motion for our joints, you can perform a number of exercises using your own bodyweight.

Before your workout, mobilize and prepare these four key areas:

  1. Ankles
  2. Hips
  3. Spine
  4. Shoulders

Take care to maximize the movement angles with fluid motions.

Post-Workout Stretches to Promote Flexibility

After your workout, you can perform dynamic or static stretching to improve flexibility. Static stretching takes longer to stretch the muscles compared to dynamic stretching.

Stretching after a workout

A common mistake when exercising is performing static stretching before a workout. This may lead to muscle injuries because you are trying to lengthen a cold and tense muscle.

What we need to do is to stretch and comfort the muscles that are warm after a workout. Stretching after a workout will relieve the muscle tension from your workout, which in turn, will reduce the post-workout soreness.

How Yoga Helps Improve Mobility and Flexibility

Now that we understand the difference between mobility and flexibility, I want to discuss how yoga can help you achieve great results. Since yoga benefits both muscles and joints, it is better performed after a workout or even the next day.

Some yoga styles will require more mobility and flexibility than others. For example, AcroYoga will certainly make you experience the limits of the mobility and flexibility of your body.

Budokon yoga is another style which not only combines mobility and flexibility but also requires strength and stamina.

Here are some specific yoga poses I recommend:

The Pigeon Pose

The first hip opener pose is the Pigeon Pose. This is a great hip opener that is used for stretching and lengthening the ligaments and muscles, as well as the IT band to the outer line of the thigh.

Emine Basarir performs the pigeon pose

The outer extension movement on the upper legs will stretch the piriformis muscle and relieve the tension on the sciatic nerve. It is especially recommended for people with sciatic problems. This pose also stretches the psoas muscle, groins, and adductor muscles.

The Garland Pose

Another pose is Garland Pose. Garland pose helps to stretch the hips and inner thighs and lengthen the spine. Doing this exercise also helps your pelvic and hip joints.

Emine Basarir performs the Garland Pose

The Connection Between Mobility and Flexibility

Mobility and flexibility may be different terms, but they do work together to improve your overall athletic performance.

For example, tense shoulders will probably give you trouble as you try to move the joints along the entire range of motion. Therefore, take care to include both flexibility and mobility exercises in your overall training routine.

Yoga is an excellent addition after your workout or the next day. Remember: if you notice closed or tense points in your body, make sure to take corrective actions to reduce the risk of injury.


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Emine Basarir

Emine BasarirEmine Basarir, Personal Trainer and Member, Fitness Advisory Board

Sports and athletics have always been first place in Emine’s life. Throughout her professional career, she has worked as a personal trainer at different fitness clubs and studios, and since 2016, she has been leading Pilates classes at her own studio, Breathe Pilates. Based in Turkey, Emine is a member of the Herbalife Nutrition Fitness Advisory Board.