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Basic Anatomical Terminology and Planes of Motion
In order to easily refer to any part of human anatomy or describe any human motion, one must understand the terminology for the three dimensional planes that the human body moves in and some terminology that explains anatomy or motion based on a reference point on the body.
Planes of Motion
The human body moves in three dimension space, and each of those dimensional planes has a name.
- Motion within the Sagittal Plane is forward or backward and is parallel to an imaginary plane dividing the body's left and right sections
- Motion within the Frontal Plane is left or right and is parallel to an imaginary plane dividing the body's front and back sections
- Motion within the Transverse Plane is rotational and is parallel to an imaginary plane dividing the body's upper and lower sections, also the waistline
Anatomical Reference Terms
The following terms are vital to describing anything in relation to a fixed point of human anatomy
Toward the Front
Same as Anterior; Toward the Front
Toward the Back
Same as Posterior; Toward the Back
Toward the Head; Upper
Away from the Head; Lower
Toward the midline of body (spine)
Away from the Midline of body (spine)
Toward the attached end of the limb, origin of the structure, or midline of the body
Away from the attached end of the limb, origin of the structure, or midline of the body
External; close to or on the surface of the body
Internal; located further beneath the surface of the body than superficial structures
The region of the neck
The region between the neck and the abdomen; the region of the chest
Region of back between the abdomen and the pelvis
The sole or bottom of the feet
Top surface of feet or hands
The palm of the hands
Examples of Terminology in Motion
Fundamental Movement Terminology
To better understand the terminology, try doing each movement.
Movements in the Sagittal Plane
- Flexion: Decreasing the angle between two bones
- Extension: Increasing the angle between two bones
- Dorsiflexion: Moving the top of the foot toward the shin at the ankle joint
- Plantarflexion: Moving the sole of the foot downward; pointing the toes
Movements in the Frontal Plane
- Abduction: Motion away from the midline of the body
- Adduction: Motion toward the midline of the body
- Elevation: Moving to a superior position (i.e. shoulder shrugs)
- Depression: Moving to an inferior position
- Inversion: Lifting the medial border of the foot
- Eversion: Lifting the lateral border of the foot
Movement in the Transverse Plane
- Rotation: Internal or External turning about the vertical axis of bone
- Pronation: Rotating the hand and wrist medially from the elbow
- Supination: Rotating the hand and wrist laterally from the elbow
- Horizontal flexion/adduction: From a 90-degree abducted arm position, the humerus is flexed/adducted in toward the midline of the body
- Horizontal extension/abduction: The return of the humerus from horizontal flexion/adduction
- Circumduction: Motion that describes a "cone"; combines flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction in sequence
- Opposition: Thumb movement unique to humans and primates
Using what you know
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About this Hub
As I study for certification as a Personal Trainer with the American Council on Exercise, I'm creating these hubs which follow along with the course material. If you are studying for ACE Certification as well, you can use these hubs for exam review, or just use them as general information to better understand exercise science.
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