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Joint Mobility Versus Flexibility

This weeks question

I often get told how flexible I am, why can't I touch my toes?

My answer

While touching your toes is one measure of flexibility, there are a few things outside of flexibility that are required for it to happen. 

-Joint mobility - the hip and pelvis joints need to be able to move far enough over one another to let you bend

-Neural mobility - the nerves need to be able to glide through the tissues enough to allow you to bend over without burning/numbness/pain 

-Balance - though it may not seem like it, bending over to touch your toes requires a fair amount of balance. 

If this sounds like you - one important distinction to make is the difference between joint mobility and flexibility. Joint mobility references the movement within your joints, while flexibility related to the extensibility of the muscles. It his possible to have excessive joint mobility, or hypermobility without flexibility, as well as to have flexibility without mobility. Touching the toes requires some combination of both, while some people do better in one department than the other. 

If you have trouble touching your toes with your knees straight, but a slight bend in the knees makes it much easier, it is likely you are struggling with either flexibility in your hamstring muscles, or a lack of nerve mobility. If you have any lower back or SI problems, nerve mobility can definitely play a role. 

Depending on your movement habits and goals, touching your toes may be an important part of your day, whether picking something up off the floor or participating in an athletic endeavor. Working to help make the distinction between what is limiting your ability to touch your toes is an important part of achieving this goal! 

Want help figuring it out? Email us at today!

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