Mobility is simply the ability to move. When looking at our body movements I prefer to visualize it from the deepest structural layer first, our joints. If someone is unable to perform a specific movement correctly (squat, lunge, hip hinge, etc.) a common limitation is joint mobility.
Just to clarify, muscle tightness may be caused by, or may contribute to, a lack of joint mobility, but there is a difference. All surrounding joint structures can limit its mobility. That includes the muscles, which are actively move and stabilize the joint, and the ligaments, which passively stabilize the joint. If the joint space becomes smaller, limitation may also occur. Loss of joint space is a product of osteoarthritis and can be a result of both over and underuse of a joint.
So why is joint mobility important? First, it decreases your chance of injury. If you lack mobility in one area, your body will compensate by getting that movement from somewhere else. A good example is lack of rotation from the hips and upper thoracic spine. A common compensation pattern is excess rotation at the lumbar spine, which could lead to injury. Secondly, it will lead to better efficiency of your movement, which can lead to increased energy and better performance. If you spend time sitting at a computer you know what I’m talking about. While sitting our lumbar and thoracic spine is flexed. To compensate we activate our hip flexor and upper traps among other muscle groups. The end result is tight, tired muscles and stiff joints. Finally, optimal joint mobility will lower your risk of osteoarthritis. This is pretty cut and dry. Too little movement (lack of joint mobility) or too much joint motion leads to degenerative joint disease, which is another name for osteoarthritis. Although there are other factor (prior injury and genetics) this is one you can control.Social tagging: joint > Mobility