esther m palmer

mobility vs flexibility: do you have enough?

About 7 out of 10 newcomers to yoga warn me: "I'm not very flexible."

The other 3 tell me they've started because they want to be "more" flexible.

9 out of 10 times these newcomers have plenty of "flexibility."

What they do often lack is functional mobility.

What's the difference between mobility and flexibility?

Nothing more than semantics, perhaps. But I love semantics, so let's break down the words to see what's here:

Mo - bility = Move - ability = the ability to move

Flex -ibilitythe ability to flex or bend

Who needs a lot of bend-ability? Gumby.

Who needs a lot --and I do mean a LOT-- of move-ability? Athletes.

And who needs a normal amount of mobility? That's right. You and me. 

Use Your Mobility

If you're a sassy sort, like me, you might be thinking, "Esther, ability to move what exactly?"

And what IS just as important as how much.

It's not willy nilly movement we - nor athletes - can use.

For everyday stuff, we need a certain amount of mobility in each joint, and there is an upper limit.

Here's an example of too much: If you could touch your right big toe to your right shin, you'd rightfully want to start freaking out a bit. You wouldn't be walking much that's for sure.

Why is this useful to know?

Because at some point more isn't better, more is just more. And of course, too little gets in the way of life.

Get to Know Your Mobility

To help you learn a few things about your own joint mobility, I made a chart of the movement expectations of your spine --the center or starting point of all whole-body movement.

Click here to open + download the pdf.

Next week we're going to address mobility for specific purposes. This -- figuring out how to do something we can't yet do -- is where many of us learn the most about ourselves.

Observing with you,


Thoughts or questions? I'd love to hear them.

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