Two words that get used frequently, and sometimes interchangeably, are mobility and stability. It can get confusing trying to understand not only what are, but how do they work and are they both valuable. Mobility and stability are not synonymous but are definitely both important, so let's unpack each of them. This blog will clarify not only what they are, but also how they go hand in hand to help boost both your performance and quality of life.
Mobility: The Spring
Let's start off with mobility, because it truly all starts here. In the most simple sense, mobility is your ability to create movement. This includes flexibility, the range of motion of the joints, and even the ability to relax muscles. These components and more make up a person's mobility. An easy explanation to understand mobility a little better was to think of it as a spring in a pinball machine. If the spring is able to be stretched and pulled back smoothly and efficiently, then there are no problems when it's released to power the pinball through the table. However, if the spring is worn down and unable to be pulled back very far, then not only could the spring break but it also won't be able to launch the pinball up the table alley.
Have a certain level of mobility will boost your performance from an athletic standpoint because your body has to be able to move through certain positions properly in order to efficiently and maximally use all the strength and power that you develop through training. Additionally, we look at the application of mobility in everyday life and hobbies, such as hiking or going out to play golf. If you don't have sufficient mobility, then you may quickly start developing pain in different parts of your body because now instead of using the proper motions, you could be forcing other parts of the body to work overtime. Eventually this can catch up to you and force you to stop doing the things you enjoy, whether this is playing a sport competitively or even going for a walk. Mobility is an essential piece of the puzzle to ensure you are healthy and performing to the level you want, which gives way to the next piece: stability.
Stability: The Rails
Stability is our ability to control our movement. While the prerequisite is mobility to have the proper movement ability, it is essential that you are able to control it. On one hand we need our mobility to function properly, but if it gets out of control, then it can lead to potential issues as well. Going back to our pinball analogy, if mobility is our spring, then stability is the rails that guides the ball where we want it to go. If those rails are gone, then it doesn't matter how great our spring may be because we will have very little control of achieving the objective.
From a sport standpoint, after the mobility requirements are met and the body can line up how we want it, we have to make sure everything is in sync. With sufficient levels of mobility and stability, we can put the greatest amount of strength and power into every kick, swing, and foot plant into the ground to get the results we want. Even better, we will be at a lower risk of injury by keep our body aligned and more controlled. From an everyday life perspective as well, stability is just as, if not more, important! We need stability to help keep our bodies stable and in the right positions to reduce our risk of creating chronic pain from not being able to hold the proper position.
Now that we've broken down the differences of stability and mobility and explained the relationship to each other, we have a better understanding of their respective and collective importance. As a recap, mobility is our ability to create movement, and stability is controlling that movement. It all starts with mobility first, but they do go hand in hand with each other to form a great relationship. Whether it is to maximize performance for a sport, or to help improve your quality of life and become more pain free, both of these aspect of movement and fitness are essential.
Interested in knowing how your body holds up with mobility and stability? Get in touch with the THP team today to schedule a Performance Assessment!