Flexibility: Definition and What It Is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Maureen Lu, PT, DPT

Flexibility Definition and Meaning

Flexibility refers to a joint’s ability to move through its full range of motion without pain. It’s influenced by the mobility of soft tissues surrounding the joint, such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and skin. 

Maintaining flexibility is crucial as it impacts the health of cartilage and structures within a joint as well as muscle functionality. Lack of flexibility can also put stress on other body parts. 

Factors Affecting Flexibility

Factors like soft tissue injuries, inactivity, a lack of stretching, and some conditions like arthritis can impact flexibility, as can age, gender, and lifestyle. Flexibility tends to decrease with age, making it essential to engage in regular flexibility exercises, particularly as you get older. Women generally are more flexible than men, but lifestyle choices, such as activity level and occupation, can significantly impact flexibility. Sedentary lifestyles lead to decreased flexibility, while more active lifestyles or jobs that require physical movement tend to maintain or improve it.

Flexibility: A Hinge Health Perspective

While injuries and conditions that affect flexibility can be frustrating and feel limiting, there’s a lot you can do to improve the function and mobility of your joints and muscles with targeted stretches and exercises. Your body is resilient and designed to recover from all sorts of conditions and injuries that may impact your flexibility.

Since flexibility comes into play in so many aspects of the body’s mechanics and movements, regular physical exercise plays a vital role in maintaining and improving mobility. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. A regular stretching routine can enhance performance, decrease injury risk, and improve joint health by increasing blood flow and nutrients to joints, reducing muscle stiffness, and improving joint mobility.

How Physical Therapy Can Help With Flexibility

Physical therapy can aid in enhancing flexibility. It’s particularly effective for those recovering from injuries or navigating health conditions. A physical therapist (PT) can create a specialized exercise and stretching plan aimed at improving mobility and increasing range of motion. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Arntz, F., Markov, A., Behm, D. G., Behrens, M., Negra, Y., Nakamura, M., Moran, J., & Chaabene, H. (2023). Chronic Effects of Static Stretching Exercises on Muscle Strength and Power in Healthy Individuals Across the Lifespan: A Systematic Review with Multi-level Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 53, 723-745. doi:10.1007/s40279-022-01806-9

  2. Stretching: Focus on Flexibility. (2022, February 12). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931

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