Planes of Motion

The human body may be broken down into sections in terms of three anatomical planes (flat surfaces).[1] These three planes are imaginary lines passing through the body (in an anatomical position), which represent the dynamic planes of motion that the human body is capable of moving through.[2]

Sagittal Plane (Lateral Plane)

This is a vertical plane running from front to back that divides the body or any of its parts into sinister (left) and dexter (right) sides. The two basic movements in the sagittal plane are flexion and extension.[3]

  • Midsagittal Plane (Median Plane)

This plane is in the midline — i.e. it would pass through midline structures such as the navel or spine, and all other sagittal planes (also referred to as parasagittal planes) are parallel to it. Median can also refer to the midsagittal plane of other structures, such as an appendage.[4]

Coronal Plane (Frontal Plane)

This is a vertical plane running from side to side that divides the body or any of its parts into anterior and posterior (or dorsal and ventral) parts. The primary movements in the frontal plane are abduction (movement of any part of the body in line with the frontal plane), and adduction.[3]

Transverse Plane (Horizontal or Axial Plane)

This is a horizontal plane that divides the body or any of its parts into upper and lower parts, or superior and inferior. Most movement that occurs along this plane involve rotation. Movement that takes part of the body outward is called lateral or external rotation, and movement that takes part of the body inward is called medial or internal rotation.[3]

Triplanar Movement

Triplanar movement is any movement that occurs through all three planes of motion. Since most daily activities involves the use of all three planes of motion, exercises that are triplanar are said to be more functional.

See Also


  1. unknown (n.d.). Planes of the Body. Retrieved on 2008-05-20.
  2. Ron Jones (n.d.). Planes of Motion. Retrieved on 2008-05-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Mike Robertson (n.d.). Functional Anatomy for Bad-Asses! Part 1. Retrieved on 2008-05-20.
  4. various (n.d.). Anatomical Terms of Location. Retrieved on 2008-05-20.
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