Mobility and Stability - The big tradeoff

Nikki Donovan

Restricted joints = restricted movements

Mobility for better MOVEMENT

Stability for better CONTROL


Mobility – how much range

·     Flexibility + strength

·     How far you can move a joint under your own body’s control (i.e. not using weight)

·     More mobility = more movement potential

·     Key to being pain-free and builds a solid foundation for speed, strength and power

·     Often people will have less mobility than flexibility because they lack strength or control of the joint at end ranges,especially under load


Stability – owning the range

·     How well you control the mobility you have

·     If less stability, the body will rely on other structures (muscles and ligaments) to stabilize the joint

·     Strong muscles therefore important to protect less stable joints (shoulder, knee)

·     BUT these joints more at risk of ligament and muscle injuries (rotator cuff tears, ACL ruptures)


A joint by joint approach


- Body is an impressive balance of stability and mobility in every joint– needed for optimal movement

- Joints alternate between the need for stability and mobility

- Joint mobility for wider ROM, can perform a variety of desired movements

- Joint stability to resist undesired movements

- No joint has complete mobility or stability and each joint has varying needs

- Of course there is a reason for this e.g. thoracic needs to be mobile as so many attachments (scap, clavicle, rotator cuff muscles), scapulothoracicneeds stability to prevent shoulder injuries

- Can be complex as generally stable things aren’t mobile and mobile things aren’t stable

- Lacking either mobility or stability (or both) can cause problems in multiple areas


Main joints

Foot - stable

Ankle - mobile

Knee – stable

Hip – mobile

Lumbar – stable

Thoracic – mobile

Scapulothoracic – stable

Shoulder (Glenohumeral) – mobile

Elbow – stable

Wrist – mobile

Hand – stable


= ideal platform for human movement


Injury risk/patterns

Movement dysfunctions/compensations causes disruption to this pattern, =we don’t move as efficiently = increased risk of injury


Knee arthritis more common than hip because knee less stable

Shoulder arthritis more common than elbow because more mobile


Both mobility and stability work vital for injury prevention

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