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Home > Anatomy & Physiology > Planes of Motion and Terms of Movement

Planes of Motion and Terms of Movement

There are three planes of motion in which we move. If you think about it, most of our movements are not straight up and down, or side to side etc, especially in sports. They tend to combine a mixture of movements in different planes.

The three planes of motion are:

Sagittal Plane

The Sagittal plane passes through the body front to back, so dividing it into left and right. Movements in this plane are the up and down movements of flexion and extension

Frontal Plane

The frontal plane divides the body into front and back. Movements in this plane are sideways movements, called abduction and adduction

Transverse Plane

This plane divides the body into top and bottom. Movements in this plane are rotational in nature, such as internal and external rotation, pronation and supination

Anatomical Neutral

This is the starting position for describing any movement. It is important that you know this to be able to understand what is meant by certain movement patterns. It is sometimes also called the anatomical starting position or fundamental starting position.

Anatomical neutral is:

Standing uprightLegs together and knee straightToes pointing straight forwardsArms by the sidePalms facing forwards


Flexion and Extension

Flexion is a movement in the sagittal plane, which decreases the angle at the moving joint. Extension is the opposite

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