Contrary to popular belief strength training is more effect for improving flexibility and mobility than stretching!! Here’s the full Q & A – ->
Q & A: How Can I improve my mobility and flexibility?
A: In two words strength training. In more words: functional strength training through your full range of motion.
How can strength training improve mobility?
There are 2 kinds of mobility or range of motion: passive and active.
Passive mobility is when someone or something moves your joint(s) through a range of motion. For example, if someone pushed your knees to your chest to simulate a deep squat.
Active mobility, seen above, is your ability to move your own joint(s) through that range of motion. Using the same example above, this would be your working on being able to get into a deep(er) squat.
Passive mobility is both risky and short lived. In other words having someone or something push your body into ranges of motion that you can’t do on your own is risky. Someone is using force to override your body’s guardrails on how far it perceives it can safely extend a muscle(s). Even if no injuries occur your body will not retain this flexibility that was done to it.
If the person or machine stretching you is only taking you through range of motion that you can already get yourself into, then what is the point? If you move yourself through the full range of motion available to you (active mobility) then you can get stronger and more stable, and, over time this will lead to increases in your active mobility.
In your day to day life you only have access to your active range of motion. Moving with ease through that range of motion is dependent on being strong through.
Doesn’t strength training make you stiff?
In a word: no. Strength training – especially when you are challenging your range of motion – makes you sore, but it does not make you stiff. What’s the difference?
Stiffness means your muscle has stopped extending – it is done and can’t go no more. Soreness means that you can extend that muscle, but that it is uncomfortable because you trained really hard in the past 48 hours. Stiffness = can’t, soreness = can, but don’t feel like it.
Soreness means you do have the range of motion. Stiffness means you do not.
On the bright side, you can usually take the edge off your soreness in just a few minutes by gently moving through your discomfort. This works for many reasons including that moving helps to clear away metabolic waste products, and that moving through some soreness helps to desensitize your brain. With our modern, sedentary world, our brains are afforded the novel opportunity to become excessively sensitive to discomfort.
Don’t be passive
We like having things done to or for us. When it comes to facials, or haircuts this works very well. However, when it comes to fitness, which includes our mobility, passive is ineffective, unsafe, and robs you of the time and opportunity to do something more effective.