Flexibility and joint mobility both refer to the joints ability to move through its full range of motion. Flexibility is often used to refer to the range of motion across multiple joints or to refer to the entire body, while joint mobility is used to refer to specific joints.
Although flexibility and joint mobility does not automatically change with age, it does change according to use. This means that as adult and aged athletes begin to decrease their movement at particular joint or across their entire body, their flexibility decreases. Decreased flexibility and joint mobility leads to increased injury risk, particularly of sprains and strains.
Sports participation options for adult and aged athletes with poor flexibility and joint mobility
Poor flexibility and joint mobility is often a result of a decrease in sport and exercise participation. However, just as the muscles and joints adapted to a lack of use, so they will also adapt to increased use. Adult and aged athletes with poor flexibility can increase their flexibility and joint mobility by slowly increasing the range of motion at each joint through regular exercise. This exercise should start at low intensities and speeds, and can gradually increase as joint mobility increases, if the adult or aged athlete want to.
Particular sports that require good flexibility include: gymnastics, dance, and martial arts. Many other sports require joint mobility for particular actions such as: kicking, bowling, hitting etc. Adult and aged athletes with poor flexibility and joint mobility are not limited in their choice of sport, but should begin at a low level and gradually increase their activity.
For example: an adult or aged athlete with poor flexibility may begin to participate in tai chi, or yoga at a beginners level and slowly move up in difficulty according to the instructor. They then may choose to start running before progressing to dribbling and then passing, shooting, and changing direction. The aim is to slowly increase flexibility and joint mobility so that all sports can be participated in.