Movement And Why We Say What We Say

I’m Betting Everyone Has Heard

Chris, Annie, or I at some point say, “push your knees out!”  Or perhaps, “pull your shoulders back!”  We use these cues during movement to help athletes get into better position.  Simple little form tweaks that help you learn where your body needs to be in relation to……an object, the floor, or other parts of your body.

We speak in the vernacular because it’s usually easier to comprehend (and for us to remember!) than specifically correct anatomical terms.  For instance if we were to say, “abduct your femurs!” or “retract the shoulder!” you might look at us funny.

Most of us probably had some anatomy collegiately (or even further back).  If you’re like me, you’ve long forgotten the correct anatomical terms.  I got into reading up on some anatomy this week, and found it very helpful for the way my mind thinks about movement.  I thought I’d do a quick refresher.

Anatomical Neutral

It all starts with the “anatomical position.”  See figure below



The anatomical position would be flat on your back with your palms facing up.  If you flop down flat on the floor and totally relax your muscles, you’ll notice that your palms will tend to face upwards.  It’s interesting.  Try it.

When we’re just standing around, typically our palms face our hips, or slightly behind us which is referred to as the fundamental position.

3 Cardinal Planes

From our anatomical position, the body is divided into three planes which help us describe motion or movement.  See figure below:

Sagittal Plane: Divides body in half, from front to back or toe to heel
Frontal Plane: Divides body in half, from side to side or shoulder to shoulder
Transverse Plane: Divides body into upper and lower half, at the waist



Relative Locations

Is the ankle near or far from the hip?  In relation too?  Now that we have these planes, we need a way to describe relative locations.  There exists a system to do just that.

Front and Back
Structures that lie in front of other structures, i.e. toes anterior to heels
Structure located behind other structures, i.e. spinal column posterior to abdominal cavity

Near and Far
Proximal: Being closer to the center of the body or to the origin of an extremity than another structure, i.e. elbow is proximal to the wrist
Distal: Farther from center of body or origin of extremity than another structure, i.e. opposite of proximal

Top and Bottom
Structure higher than another, i.e. shoulder girdle superior to hips
Inferior: Structure lower than another, i.e. knee inferior to hips

Inner and Outer
Medial: Structure closer to sagittal plane (midline) than another, i.e. spinal column medial to ribcage
Lateral: Structures lying farther away from sagittal plane than another, i.e. shoulders lateral to sternum

Thoroughly Confused, Or Just Bored?

Yeah, not really riveting reading I know.  But if you take the time to allow your brain to make the connections with the descriptions and your body, you will be better off for it because it will help deepen your understanding of what’s what.

All that is fine and well, but it doesn’t give us a great way to describe movement.  Lets talk about that now.

Movement – Move or Don’t

Bend and Straighten
Flexion: Flexion describes movement in the sagittal plane and is anterior-posterior.  Think of flexion as decreasing the angle formed by a joint.  For instance the biceps will flex the elbow joint (note the biceps ARE NOT flexing, they are contracting).
Extension: This goes the other way of flexion.  Same plane, anterior-posterior but instead of decreasing the angle we are increasing it through movement.

I find it helpful to think of flexion/extension through visualizing the spinal column.  See below:

Slide 1

Move Away/Move Towards
Occurring in the frontal plane, this movement pushes a body part away from the midline.  When we perform seated pigeon, we are abducting our hips.
Adduction: Same plane, now we are moving a body part towards the midline.

Rotate/Combo Move
Pivot around the intersection of the sagittal and frontal planes or any body segment.  Palms facing up to palms facing down.
Circumduction: Occurs in any plane, where the joint acts as a pivot and the distal segment then moves in a circle around the joint. This is a combination of flexion, abduction, extension, and adduction in sequence and only occurs at a joint that is capable of movement in two or more planes.

Worth Noting, Describing Movement Is…

Easier than performing movement correctly.  It is my belief that an understanding of human movement is essential to moving well.  This covers the basics.  We are all in control of a system that is pretty incredible and will do some pretty amazing stuff.  However, it takes some practice to learn how to move our bodies correctly and fluidly.  Know what your body is capable of doing, understand how it does this, and practice the movement and you’ll be well on your way to being a better mover.

The O-Board Says…

AMRAP 20 Minutes
5 Handstand Pushups
10 Front Squats
15 Ring Rows

Posted by: Stets