Flexibility, Stability, and Mobility, and Why you Need Them
When we think of a full body workout, we may focus only on strength and aerobic activity. But there are three additional components that are critical for a total body workout—flexibility exercizes, core stability exercizes, and mobility exercizes.
What is flexibility?
Flexibility is the ability of joints to go through a full range of motion. Healthy, flexible joints can go through this range of motion unrestricted and pain-free and can lengthen muscles in a static stretch. 1
To help keep joints flexible, you should regularly perform flexibility exercizes and stretches for flexibility. When your joints are flexible, your muscles move more freely. Flexibility can help prevent muscle stiffness and increase your range of motion during your full body workout. As a bonus, stretches for flexibility feel good and help release tight muscles.
Here are three stretches for better flexibility:
- Butterfly stretch: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet pressing against each other. Sit up straight, elongating your spine and tucking your chin toward your chest. As you inhale, lengthen your spine. As you exhale, sink more deeply into the stretch. Hold for up to two minutes and repeat two to four times. 2
- Reclining figure four: Lie on your back, your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, gently pull both knees toward your chest, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. 3
- Kneeling hip flexor: Starting in a kneeling position with your knees directly beneath your hips. Step one foot forward, placing your foot on the ground with your thigh parallel to the floor. Gently press your hips forward. Make sure your front knee stays in alignment with your toes as you hold this stretch. Hold the stretch for 30-45 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
What is stability?
Stability is the ability to maintain a desired position or movement. It also means being able to stay balanced during your full body workout. Increased stability comes from performing stability exercizes that build strength—particularly core strength—and keep you balanced and upright. The more stable you are, the less likely you will be to suffer falls and injury. 4
Here are four good stability exercizes:
- Squats: Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Slowly lower into squat, striving to get your thighs parallel to the floor, making sure your knees stay aligned with your ankles and do not pass over your toes. Slowly stand back up again. Do 8 to 10 reps. 5
- Side lunges: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward. Step your right foot as far to your right side as you can, engaging through your right heel as you drop your hips back and down. Keep your left leg straight and both feet flat on the ground. You should feel the stretch in your left groin. Making sure your right knee tracks over your right foot, push yourself back to the standing position by pushing your right heel into the floor. Do eight to 10 reps, then repeat on your left side. 6
- Planks with toe taps: Get into the plank position with straight arms so your body forms a straight line from your head to your toes. Keeping your legs straight and extended, lift your right foot and move it away from your body to the right about 12 inches to the outside of your body. Place your right toe on the floor for a second, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the left side. Do eight to 10 reps.
- Side planks with torso rotation: Lie on your right side on a mat. Prop yourself up on your right elbow and forearm and put your legs out straight, so your left foot is on top of your right. Raise your hips up so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Raise your left arm strait up so it is perpendicular to the floor. Twist your body and reach your left hand under your body so your chest is parallel with the floor. Pause and then twist back to the starting position. Do 8 to 10 reps and repeat on the other side.
What is mobility?
Mobility is the ability to move freely and easily, whether you are going through daily activities, or doing a full body exercize routine. We naturally lose mobility with age, but it’s possible to maintain it by staying active and engaging in the right mobility workouts. It’s important to stay mobile so you can maintain your quality of life and keep doing the activities you enjoy. 7
Three mobility exercizes:
- 90/90 Hip stretch: Sit up straight on an exercize mat on the floor with one leg extended straight out in front of you and the other knee bent out to the side with your foot placed at the inside of the knee on the straight leg. Keeping your right leg in this position, bring your left leg out so your thigh points at a 90-degree angle away from your torso and the inside of your foot, shin and thigh are on the floor. Bend your left knee 90 degrees. Keeping your back straight, hold the position for 10-30 seconds. Switch and repeat on the other side. 8
- Spiderman lunges: Place your right knee on the floor and your left leg forward and flat on the floor. Lean forward and place both hands flat on the ground so they are even with your left foot. Lean forward and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do 8 to 10 reps.9
- Cat Cows: Start on your hands and knees. Inhale and move into cow pose, lifting your tailbone upward and pressing your chest forward so your belly sinks. Relax your shoulders and lift your head, looking straight out in front of you. Exhale as you round your spine, tucking your tailbone. Release your head toward the floor and relax. Repeat 8 to 10 times.10
In addition to performing these exercizes, you can improve your flexibility, stability, and mobility by going through the Curves Circuit and participating the in the new Curves WOW workouts. These workouts offer the perfect combination of balance-based exercizes and exercizes that focus on coordination, agility, speed and strength training. For more info, go to www.curves.com today.
- Flexibility | Sports Medicine | UC Davis Health
- A Better Butterfly Stretch for Tight Hips (healthline.com)
- Say No to Sciatica Pain with 4 Simple Stretches – SilverSneakers
- What Stability Means for Your Workouts – Unilateral Exercises (menshealth.com)
- Chair leg squats – Healthier Happier Queensland
- How To Do Side Lunges (womenshealthmag.com)
- Mobility Exercises to Up Your Fitness | Everyday Health
- How to Do the 90/90 Stretch for Healthy, Mobile Hips | livestrong
- This Explosive Spiderman Lunge is Magic For Your Hips (menshealth.com)
- Cat/cow pose – Mayo Clinic