So You Want to be Fit: Suppleness
Suppleness is probably one of the most confusing components of fitness. First, suppleness can be passive or active. That is, passive suppleness is the ability to be moved through a range of motion and active suppleness is the ability to move oneself through a range of motion. Sometimes passive suppleness is called flexibility and active suppleness is termed mobility. Mobility is the convention that we will use in this blog.
Suppleness is a core component of fitness because virtually every activity requires movement through a specific range of motion. It is important to move well through the correct range of motion for a few reasons. Having the ability to move well through the necessary range of motion can help reduce the risk of injury, help you retain or build better posture, and will actually allow you to develop more strength and power.
Reducing the risk of injury is obvious; if your body is not prepared for a given position then you increase the risk of injury when forced into it (specifically, when adding a load and/or speed), and better posture results from being able to move freely to stand up straight. However, suppleness providing strength is a little less obvious. At the end range of motion, we tend to be weaker than we are through the middle of a range of motion (there are various anatomical and physiological reasons for this that are beyond the scope of this post, but suffice it to say that that is the case). With a greater range of motion there can be a greater range of strength as well.
Though some people chase suppleness obsessively, more people ignore it. Despite being ignored, it has a very important place in any training program.