Body Mechanics: Planes of Movement

body-anatomyHello again, and welcome back to Body Mechanics. I realize I have been absent for a couple of weeks and I apologize, but as a full-time student preparing for exams, I just did not have the time to allocate. Now that exams are over, I can happily devote my time and effort to bringing you the content you deserve. The last topic we covered was about functionality and incorporating alternative methods into our training regime. We will continue on with that trend today and cover the planes of movement.

There are three main planes of movement, and they are sagittal, frontal, and transverse. These movements are how our body functions naturally. The sagittal plane is viewed from the side and uses movements such as flexion/extension of the hips or shoulders.  The frontal plane is viewed anteriorly and focuses on abduction/adduction of the hips or shoulders. The transverse plane is viewed vertically and includes rotation of the trunk, and any limb for that matter.

Take a moment and see if you can answer the following question, what plane(s) of movement does our body use when we walking1walk? If you answered all three you are absolutely correct! The hip extends/flexes in the sagittal plane, the hip also adducts/abducts in the frontal plane and the leg internally/externally rotates in the transverse plane. Remarkably our body does this instinctively without a second thought or hesitation. It is important to get a grasp of this concept because when we go to the gym often times we are working in a sagittal plane, while other planes are negated.

In the pursuit of our goals we must account for all three planes of movement to maintain balance within our body. How many times have you actively trained knowingly or intentionally in either the transverse or frontal plane? This topic doesn’t come up very often and that’s why I decided to dive right in. Neglecting muscles will lead to compensations in the body that can lead to months or even years of correcting. The same is true with planes of movement as they can adversely affect Spineproper posture or worse – lead to injury. I am not trying to scare you, I am hoping if you are creating your own routines that you’re actively considering all the variables.

A simple, yet effective method of applying variation is by combining movements, for example a lateral lunge and a row. This simple adaptation increases the level of difficulty and metabolic cost of the exercise. By combining movements we are forced to recruit muscles in different patterns, perhaps even other muscles to assist through the range of motion. The body works as a whole, and as we progress in our exercise selections we can blend the two movements into one smooth movement. As you become better coordinated your ability to work in this manner will help to increase your overall strength.

Do not be discouraged, I am merely shedding light on a subject for you to think about and improve upon. The ratio of pushes to Bent-Over-Barbell-Rowpulls is important, as are planes of movements when creating a training program. Ask for advice or educate yourself on proper exercise prescription. Often times we are too proud to let others help, but remember that the idea is to get better with every set, rep and breath!

Happy Lifting!

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2 comments for “Body Mechanics: Planes of Movement

  1. Carlos Flores
    December 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you for the warm welcome Matt. Always a pleasure, I enjoy sharing with people to help them reach their goals.

  2. December 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Let me be the first to say – welcome back Carlos! I’ve missed you my friend, and I’m happy you survived your exams and can be with us again!

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