I read an interesting quote recently “we are born with mobility, but we have to earn stability”. On the surface I agree but really, we have to earn both, they need to work and develop together. Joint mobility and stability are important for everyday function but become even more imperative in athletic movements if you want to avoid injury and maximise performance.
What’s the difference between the two?
- Mobility: Also known as Range of Motion, is the range of movement about a joint before being restricted by surrounding tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles etc.)
- Stability: The ability to maintain or control joint movement or position. Stability requires the coordination of the neuromuscular system and the actions of surrounding tissues.
Mobility and stability need to work in balance, if we don’t have the mobility at a particular joint our bodies will compensate in some way to achieve it, doing so compromises stability. The opposite can happen, where a joint that should be stable has too much mobility. Failing mobility and/or stability can cause us to deviate from natural movement patterns and can also lead to poor coordination. All of this places us in a more injury-prone state.
Some joints require more mobility while others require more stability.
- Lumbar spine needs to be stable
- Pelvis/Hip needs to be mobile
- Thoracic spine needs to be mobile
- Glenohumeral(shoulder) needs to be mobile
- Knees need to be stable
- Ankles need to be mobile
- Wrists need to be mobile
Understanding which joints require more stability and which ones need more mobility will help you to improve movement patterns and minimise risk of injury.