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Anatomy and Physiology - Lesson 2B - Joint Movements

Part A - Joint Classifications
Part B - Joint Movements

Anatomical Position

The anatomical position is the universal starting position for describing movements, with the exception of horizontal flexion, which occurs when the arm moves forwards from an already abducted position (see later for explanation of these terms.)

In the image on the right, the man is standing in the anatomical position, and the anatomical planes are shown.

You do not need to know the planes in the syllabus, but they are used to describe movement. If the movement would not cross through the plane, it is said to occur within it. For example, if you turn your head to the right, the head moves in the horizontal plane (it is rotational moves that take place in the horizontal plane). If you lift your leg straight up, the movement occurs in the saggital plane. If you lift your leg to the side, the movement occurs in the frontal plane.




Joint Movements (from anatomical position unless otherwise stated)




Narrowing joint angle in saggital plane (bending elbow)
Extension Increasing joint angle in saggital plane (straightening elbows)
Hyperextension Increasing angle more than in natural position, eg bending backwards
Abduction Lifting a body part away from body midline (in frontal plane)
Adduction Returning a body part to body midline (in frontal plane)
Rotation Turning a body part on axis (horizontal plane) (not rotation all the way round - see circumduction).
Lateral flexion Bending body sideways (frontal plane)
Lateral extension Returning body to anatomical position
Elevation Lifting a body part (shoulder shrugs)
Depression Lowering a body part (dropping the jaw)
Protraction Moving a body part outwards
Retraction Bringing a body part back
Horizontal Flexion (starts from abducted position) Moving arm forwards in horizontal plane
Horizontal Extension (starts from abducted position) Returning arm to the abducted position
Dorsal Flexion Bending ankle so that the toes are raised
Plantar Flexion Hyperextending ankle joint so toes point downwards
Circumduction Range of movements that create a complete circle (as opposed to a rotation of less than 360 degrees.)


Flexion - joint angle decreases in size
Extension - joint angle increases in size
Hyperextension - increasing angle beyond natural position

Never tip head back in an Exercise to Music class

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