List of Anatomical Directions & Movements

These tables are associated with the article The Planes of Movement.
They list directions associated with the axial (core) body and the appendicular body (the limbs), as well as various
terms refering to directions of possible movements for the whole body.

The Axial Body

Aborad Movement within the gastrointestinal system in the direction away from the mouth
Anterior Located on or pertaining to the front of the body
Apical The tip or apex
Axial Pertaining to the head, neck, and trunk of the body
Can also refer to the Transverse (Horizontal) plane (Sometimes call the Transaxial plane)
Basal The bottom or base
Basilar The base of the skull
Bilateral Both sides
Central Located at the center or interior of the body
Cephalad Towards the head
Caudad Towards the tail or posterior
Contralateral On the opposite side of the body or structure
Coronal Parallel to the Coronal Suture of the cranium
Cranial Pertaining to the head
Deep Below the surface of the body
External Outer or sometimes lateral
Frontal Along the Coronal Plane, parallel to the Coronal Suture, dividing the front and back of the body
Horizontal Along the Transverse Plane, dividing the upper and lower body
Inferior Lower, below, or located away from the head
Internal Inner or sometimes medial
Ipsilateral On the same side of the body or structure
Lateral To the side or located away from the midline of the body
Longitudinal Along the long axis
Medial Toward the median plane or the midline of the body
Median Plane The sagittal plane
Medius Situated in the middle
Midsagittal Sagittal plane that lies on the midline
Oblique Diagonally
Occipital Pertaining to the back of the cranium
Orad Movement within the gastrointestinal system in the direction of the mouth
Parasagittal Plane A side plane (Sagittal) that is not through the middle of the body and thus divides the body into unequal left and right regions
Peripheral Located away from the center
Posterior Located on or pertaining to the back of the body
Rostral Situated towards the eye brows or the nose
Sagittal Parallel to the Sagittal Suture of the cranium
Side Parallel to the Sagittal Suture of the cranium
Superficial Located on or close to the surface of the body
Superior Upper, above, or located towards the head
Temporal Pertaining to the lateral side of the cranium
Transverse Along the plane that horizontally divides the upper and lower body
Unilateral One side
Ventral Towards the abdomen, or the center, or the lower surface
Vertical Perpendicular to the horizon
Visceral Deep

Appendicular Body

Appendicular Appendages or limbs
Arm The region of the body from the shoulder to the elbow
Distal Away from the trunk of the body or the point of reference, or towards the end of a limb
Dorsal Pertaining to the back of the foot or hand (the other side from the sole or the palm)
Fibular Pertaining to the lateral side of the leg
Forearm The region of the body from the elbow to the wrist
Leg The region of the body from the knee to the ankle
Palmar Pertaining to the palm of the hand
Plantar Pertaining to the sole of the foot
Proximal Closer to the trunk of the body or the point of reference
Radial Pertaining to the lateral side of the forearm
Thigh The region of the body from the hip to the knee
Tibial Pertaining to the medial side of the leg
Ulnar Pertaining to the medial side of the forearm
Valgus Distal segment of a joint that deviates laterally. ( e.g. knock-kneed)
Varus Distal segment of a joint that deviates medially. ( e.g. bow-legged)
Volar Relating to the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot

Body Movements

Remember that movements can be, and often are combined. These terms may also apply equally to the upper and lower appendicular skeleton.

Abduction Movement of a limb away from the midline of the body, usually in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
Adduction Movement of a limb towards the midline of the body, usually in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
Angulation Changing the angle between the axis of articulating bones
Circumduction Circular movement of a limb that combines abduction, flexion, adduction and extension
Counternutation Nodding of the sacrum posteriorly and slightly upward relative to the top of the pelvis
Depression Scapula: moving the scapula downward in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
Deviation Wrist: Radial Deviation – moving the wrist so the thumb comes closer to forearm
Ulnar Deviation – moving the wrist so the little finger comes closer to forearm
Dorsiflexion Ankle: moving the ankle so the toes move towards the knee
Elevation Scapula: moving the scapula upward in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
Eversion Ankle: twisting the foot laterally, outward so that the sole of the foot faces to the side. Also called pronation.
Extension Straightening a joint that increases the joint angle, commonly posteriorly in the Side (Sagittal) Plan
Flexion Bending at a joint that decreases the joint angle, commonly anteriorly in the Side (Sagittal) Plan
Inversion Ankle: twisting the foot medially, inward so that the sole of the foot faces to the midline of the body
Nutation Nodding of the sacrum anteriorly and slightly downward relative to the top of the pelvis
Opposition Thumb: moving the thumb and the palm closer together
Plantarflexion Ankle: moving the ankle so the toes move away from the knee
Pronation Forearm: rotation of the forearm so the palm faces inward and downward
Foot: rotation of the foot so the palm or sole faces inward and upward. Aslo called eversion.
Prone Lying on the stomach
Protraction Scapula: abducting the scapula away from each other
Retraction Scapula: adduction of the scapula towards each other
Rotation Circular turning along the long axis
Supination Forearm: rotation of the forearm so palm or sole faces outward and upward
Foot: rotation of the foot so palm or sole faces outward and downward
Supine Lying on the back
Translation Sliding with no rotation or angulation

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