Hey, everyone, what's going on? This is Dr. Chad Kuntz. You're back with Prime Time, and we are on episode number 14 already. We're going to discuss what's the difference between flexibility, stability, and mobility. This is a huge topic, and I think if you ask a multitude of different providers, you'll probably get a lot of different answers. The reason that this is so prudent is because it's literally integrated in everything, whether it's a clinical concept behind the way you're stretching, whether it's a clinical reasoning or rationale for the type of exercise you're trying to do to get out of pain, you're gonna find this a little bit everywhere. So, let's just break it down and then think about the application a little bit. Flexibility to me is a passive range of motion. Passive means, if I take my elbow and I bend it as much as I can, that's the flexibility of a joint.
Flexibility is really important as a provider because it gives me a lot of information. In the physical therapy rehab world, we'll call that an end feel. We'll call that an end feel because it tells us a lot of information. There's a lot of different types of classifications we may have, for example, if I try to bring that elbow and bend that all the way, and you say stop before I can even move that elbow all the way and you say stop because it hurts, we call that an empty end feel, not that you need to know that, but what it does do is provide us a lot of information and say "You know what? There's a lot of inflammation in that joint," or, "Something is really bothering you. I feel like I could have pulled you all the way, but you stopped me." Or perhaps assessing the flexibility of that joint, I can push you all the way and it's got a nice firm end feel, the joints are approximating appropriately. That feels great. You've got great flexibility in that joint. So, that's a little bit about flexibility.
What about stability? Well, hopefully, stability is a little bit more of a common ground answer, a little bit of an easier answer to decipher. Stability just means that you're able to have a nice co-contraction around that joint, and it's able to tolerate force appropriately, and you're able to do that without creating any more pain, and it's able to handle a sum of force or load to the joint. And stability, just a little bit of a quick side note, is probably one of the most important features that we need that is often undernourished. I think a lot of times we're trying to stretch quicker than we are to stabilize.
And then there's mobility. I like to think of mobility as a sum of both flexibility and stability. For example, when you're trying to get that shoulder into that full range of motion at the top of shoulder flexion, it needs to have great mobility, because, not only should I be able to have passively taken that shoulder joint up into that full range of motion, but I also need to be able to challenge its stability at that end range. And if you get both parts equated and working together, I think that's what yields beautiful range of motion.
Now, certain different types of thought processes will say that certain joints need one or the other. Maybe they'll say, shoulders need great flexibility, thoracic spine needs great flexibility, lumbar spine needs great stability, etc. In my clinical experience, I don't think it's that easy. I don't think it has to be brought down to that level of dichotomy. I don't think it has to be one or the other. I don't think our body is that simplistic. This body is an incredible machine, I will never stop learning about it, because it's always gonna be teaching me a few things as I work with my clients. Let's take a squat for example. I think, at the end of the day, you have to have this beautiful harmonious balance of mobility interspersed throughout the entire body. That takes into account that you have had requisite flexibility, and that you've done some stability training to help you get into that range of motion. The body really is connected, and it feels like the entire body kind of speaks to different parts of it to make it work so that you can do that new range of motion. We don't often think about it, but in that squat, heck, even parts of your shoulder blade, some completely non-irrelevant muscles up there are playing a role. And they feed off of each other.
So, in that squat, whatever work that your ankle is not doing, your knee is gonna try to make up for it, if that can't do it, your hip tries to make up for it, if that can't do it, your lower back tries to do it. And it kind of speaks to itself all the way up, all the way through. So, at the end of the day, I look to improve optimal mobility almost anywhere and everywhere I can. That means it has requisite stability, which is a really important differentiating factor than just saying I want it to be flexible. Just being flexible doesn't do a whole heck of a lot, because to me it means it's passive, in that you can't really control that. I think one problem that sort of throw my yogis underneath the bus here, but, I think one problem that yogis have sometimes is that they only achieve flexibility and they'll just passively pull themselves into positions, but no one is actually controlling that. And so sometimes we have to go back in and refrain that and say, "You know what, I need you to pull back on the level of flexibility you're going after, and I need you to stabilize there and let's teach you how to improve upon the mobility you have to get into that position."
So, I think that's where some different clinical beliefs and concepts come into how you're going to achieve that range of motion. But, at the end of the day, I think you need to be strong in somebody's end ranges of motion, but we need to intelligently progress into those ranges of motion. So that's just my quick thoughts on flexibility, stability, and mobility. I think this is a conversation that could go on a lot longer, but I wanna hear your thoughts. What are your thoughts on the differences and applications of flexibility, mobility, and stability? Why don't you email me at email@example.com. That's firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's hear more about this topic, who knows, maybe we'll have a part two based off of some of the conversations that you guys bring up. All right, guys. Thanks for tuning in.