Mobility: Defined

Mobility is not the same as Flexibility.  Find out how to train Mobility for your goals.

man practicing lunges

Mobility isn’t one thing

As you’ll see in the sweet little graphic below, Mobility isn’t the same as Flexibility and it isn’t one thing.  It encompasses three distinct characteristics.

This information is helpful when discussing your fitness goals with a personal trainer, coach, or therapist. 

When you have a clear understanding of the terms in this article, you will communicate more clearly with your fitness professionals. You will also get get better search results if you are looking for flexibility programs online.


Mobility is…

the intersection of Flexibility, Coordination, and Strength.


In other words, the ability to move with ease and control.

What does a lack of Mobility look like?

A lack of Mobility could look like…

  • Knee pain and/or an inability to squat, kneel, or get down to the floor and back up easily.
  • Trouble bending down to put on shoes or tie them.
  • Back and neck pain.
  • Trouble with your golf swing, tennis game.
  • Inability to turn around and see behind you, for example, when backing out of the driveway.
  • Inability to climb into the boat after going for a swim, or climb out of the pool after taking a dip.
  • A lack of confidence when reaching overhead to pull things down off of a high shelf or the top of the refrigerator.

Sometimes people want to work toward a specific skill with high mobility demands, like…

  • a back roll,
  • a muscle up,
  • a Turkish get-up.

All of these daily demands and skills are places where Flexibility, Coordination, and Strength work together. 

3 Characteristics of Mobility


1. Flexibility

Flexibility is a joint’s ability to move to the end of its normal range, or how far a joint can flex, extend or rotate; also known as, Range of Motion. The most important word in that sentence is, “normal.” What is normal for one person is not necessarily normal for someone else. Body structure, the demands placed on the joint, past experiences, etc. all factor into what a particular joint’s normal range is. Even within one body, normal range of motion can be very different from one side to the other.

Find more at Flexibility: Defined.


2. Coordination

Coordination is the body’s ability to organize to complete a given task. Coordination means, among other things, expressing balance, reaction time, proprioception, vision, and elasticity. It means finding the rhythm where one muscle contraction happens in sync, or in sequence, with another so that a task becomes accessible or a movement comes with ease. When coordination is being highly expressed, movements look and feel fluid and effortless.

3. Strength

Strength is the body’s ability to produce force. When strength is being highly expressed, a person looks and feels in control and capable of the force demands of the movement.

Find more at Strength: Defined.


Venn diagram of Mobility


How the parts work together

We can think about Flexibility, Coordination, and Strength as they relate to Mobility by looking at one simple task: Stepping over a baby-gate.

To step over the baby-gate – which we do because it is much easier than opening and closing the dang gate – requires a pretty high level of Mobility. One needs the Coordination to stand on one leg for a few seconds and the Flexibility in the other hip joint, and Strength in that thigh and hip flexor, to draw that thigh all the way up to the belly. Then, the Strength and Coordination to control the swing of one leg over the gate and transfer weight to it, while doing it all over again with the other leg. Not an easy task, but one we perform several times each day.

This is EXACTLY what we mean by Mobility – simply the Flexibility, Coordination, and Strength to go about our daily tasks, to get through life, with ease and control.

We love it when our clients don’t have to THINK about Mobility any more because the daily tasks that used to be troublesome, painful, or inaccessible, no longer are!


What does Mobility training look like?

The video below demonstrates a few exercises that build Flexibility, Strength, and Coordination… in other words, a Mobility workout.


We hope this article helps organize your understanding of Mobility and gives you some language to use when working with fitness professionals, when searching for inspiration online, or just for your own love of movement.


Find additional info in Mobility vs. Flexibility and more at our website.


Interested in experiencing Mobility training for yourself?  Use the form below…

Movement for All, Movement for life

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