The Fit Life – 2020.07 – Mobility vs Flexibility

Meet Dr. Kyle Simpson, Chiropractor and Movement Specialist who is slowly helping each and everyone of us at LP move better, feel better and perform better through education, treatment and quality movement.

Today Doc Kyle is educating us on a typically very misunderstood topic of MOBILITY VS FLEXIBILITY

If I had $1 for every time a patient measured their mobility by whether they could bend over and touch their palms to the ground…. I would at least have a steady stream of coffee money each week.


The amount of controllable motion across a joint that one possesses. 

This essentially boils down to a combination of flexibility and strength. One can be flexible, but without the requisite strength in that position there is no control over this movement, and thus no useful real-life application. The converse applies where strength is present, though flexibility is lacking.

Static Stretching?!?!

As such, why do most people habitually train for “mobility” in passive conditions (ie: minimal muscle activation)? 

AKA: Holding a static stretch for a period of time will result in temporary improvements in flexibility, but what good is this without reinforcing muscular control in this new found range?

Every joint is equipped with mechanoreceptors that relay information to the joint capsule and surrounding ligaments. If you are only working in the mid-ranges of a joint these mechanoreceptors don’t seem to fire properly. This means that if you were to only train in a mid-range of motion


Let’s use a cyclist as an example, you will become very efficient in that range, but the joints and supportive tissues will not perform optimally when tested outside of their expected range. If this cyclist always stretches before races, but never works on developing strength at the end-ranges of movement they will have an increased risk of injury.


“OK, so how the am I supposed to improve my squat depth because my hips feel tight as all hell!?” 

Simple. Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs), along with Progressive and Regressive Angular Isometric Loading (PAILs / RAILs). Ok, let me explain this…..

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) – Assessment Tool

CARs are used to assess mobility and improve articular (joint) control within your current useable range of motion. Think of them as really intense “arm or hip circles”, where you are working hard to express the full range of motion that the joint is capable of. It is common to find “sticking points” during these movements, which can usually indicate areas of tension within the surrounding soft tissues. This will give you an idea of where your mobility limitations lie, and where to focus your efforts moving forward.

Here is a video discussing CARs at the hip:

Progressive/Regressive Angular Isometric Loading (PAILs/RAILs)

PAILs / RAILs use isometric loading across a joints perceived “end-range” to expand its useable range of motion by improving neuromuscular control. 

Isometric contractions help to reinforce tissue adaptations and bring active control over a particular range. Essentially, we are improving flexibility in the joints end-ranges while simultaneously providing strength and control. 

Remember: Mobility is the combination of flexibility and strength. Without the other, true mobility does not exist. The key to performing these movements properly is establishing full body tension to create stability throughout the entire body, allowing focused movement to occur about the desired joint while reducing movement compensations elsewhere in the body.

This exists along a continuum (think of __% of total max tension) and the amount of tension required will depend on the current range of motion and mobility goals.

Here is a video applying PAILs/RAILs in the 90×90 position:

When the above fails?!

When the above fails there may be some element of joint dysfunction or myofascial limitation that needs some added attention. This might come in the form of joint manipulation, acupuncture, soft tissue release, or other forms of therapy.

If you’ve made it this far – congratulations! You are well on your way to a better understanding of mobility. Send me a message with any questions or to chat further!

-Doc Kyle

Functional Movement Assessments

Next Session – Saturday February 22nd

If you would like to book a Functional Movement Assessment with Doc Kyle to get your Full Body Mobility Tested, you can book on the Limitless Performance APP, under Member Services, Physiotherapy, Functional Movement Assessment


Not an LP Member and Training for a massive goal or hit a plateau? Go back to the basics. Build your engine. Build your strength. Improve your mobility. Than begin to specialize in your particular area of focus.

Email us and let us know your Goal so we can connect you with the correct Coach to start making your perfect plan today!

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