Is it Joint Mobilization or Dynamic Stretching?

……could you please me help clarify the difference between ankle mobilization and dynamic stretching?

First off, it doesn’t really matter what you call the drills that you are doing as long as you find value in, and they yield a desirable result.

Here’s what I believe the definitions of stretching to be…

Active – You are controlling the movement
example – Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Active Isolated Stretching
Passive – Someone or something is controlling the movement
example – Supine passive ROM of the gleno-humeral joint with overpressure
Dynamic – Patterning from slack to stretch in a full movement
example – Supine hamstring ranging from supine to 1-leg raised with zero knee extension
Static – Keeping the end range held
example – Standing slant board ankle DF

WTF???

And you can have combinations of all of the above as well. You probably have to choose active/passive and dynamic/static.
But you can do Active Dynamic with a Passive Static at the end.
You can do Passive Dynamic and then an Active Static at the end.
I’m sure each combination has different levels of effectiveness and science, but I do think you can demonstrate and explain each combination definitively.

Some results of these movements will by default be a mobility drill.
Mobility is defined as the ability of an unloaded joint system to move through a range of movement.  It is a relative term, and one that should be audited with a movement that demonstrates the degree of mobility that you want.  For example, you can test ankle DF mobility as 4″ in front of your toes as an audit for ankle mobility as a limiting factor to the Deep Squat pattern in the FMS.
There are many different limiting factors to mobility that include joint integrity, muscle length, muscle tone, and pain.
A successful mobility drill is one that yields that joint system to its excursion that meets your definition of acceptable limits.  If the limiting factor was muscle length, and your “dynamic stretching” technique restored it, then they were one in the same.

Brilliant how this comes up when you Google Images for Mobility.

A mobility drill may or may not be stretching muscle. But it’s still doing very good things.
And a dynamic stretch may not be truly mobilizing the joint.  Best way to find out is test-retest, and you’ll see if it got the job done.

  • August 1, 2011

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Christopher Reply

Laughed out loud at that “explosion” image.

I love how you define your terms. Simply communicating on an agreeable level like this can eliminate so much senseless discussion.

Thank you Charlie.

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