esther m palmer

How much mobility do you need?

Human joints can move in predictable ways that are more or less the same for all of us.

More or less the same means we do not move in exactly the same ways.

Why is this?

First there's the mobility you're "born with". It's the mobility determined both by the shape of your bones and your soft tissue make up.

Then, there's the mobility you nurture (or don't) through the activities you do (or don't do).

How these two intersect results in your mobility. The exact path and quality of your joint movement is specific to your skeleton and your life.

Let's say you want to be an Olympic gymnast. But you're also 6'3".

You might be able to manage the feat, but your training would need to accommodate the extra foot of height that you'd bring to the sport.

Or say you love to run. But you have lax ligaments and "wobbly" joints.

You can run, but you'll need to engage in targeted strength training to avoid injury.

Not every factor can be trained away.

Take my ballet example from a few weeks back: I don't have the hip joints for professional ballet. That is, I can do ballet, but I can't create the look that is competitive in a professional sphere. All because my hip joint structure is the way that it is.

No biggie, but important for me to know so I don't go pushing my body into shapes it just. cannot. create.

Herein lies the danger of "more" for the sake of more...

At some point you've got the mobility you need to be you and do the thing you love in a way that honors your unique skeleton. That's flexibility. That's enough.

Missed the Mobility Worksheet?

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.

Download it now to learn about your own movement!

Observing with you,


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,



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