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

AboradMovement within the gastrointestinal system in the direction away from the mouth
AnteriorLocated on or pertaining to the front of the body
ApicalThe tip or apex
AxialPertaining to the head, neck, and trunk of the body
Can also refer to the Transverse (Horizontal) plane (Sometimes call the Transaxial plane)
BasalThe bottom or base
BasilarThe base of the skull
BilateralBoth sides
CentralLocated at the center or interior of the body
CephaladTowards the head
CaudadTowards the tail or posterior
ContralateralOn the opposite side of the body or structure
CoronalParallel to the Coronal Suture of the cranium
CranialPertaining to the head
DeepBelow the surface of the body
ExternalOuter or sometimes lateral
FrontalAlong the Coronal Plane, parallel to the Coronal Suture, dividing the front and back of the body
HorizontalAlong the Transverse Plane, dividing the upper and lower body
InferiorLower, below, or located away from the head
InternalInner or sometimes medial
IpsilateralOn the same side of the body or structure
LateralTo the side or located away from the midline of the body
LongitudinalAlong the long axis
MedialToward the median plane or the midline of the body
Median PlaneThe sagittal plane
MediusSituated in the middle
MidsagittalSagittal plane that lies on the midline
ObliqueDiagonally
OccipitalPertaining to the back of the cranium
OradMovement within the gastrointestinal system in the direction of the mouth
Parasagittal PlaneA side plane (Sagittal) that is not through the middle of the body and thus divides the body into unequal left and right regions
PeripheralLocated away from the center
PosteriorLocated on or pertaining to the back of the body
RostralSituated towards the eye brows or the nose
SagittalParallel to the Sagittal Suture of the cranium
SideParallel to the Sagittal Suture of the cranium
SuperficialLocated on or close to the surface of the body
SuperiorUpper, above, or located towards the head
TemporalPertaining to the lateral side of the cranium
TransverseAlong the plane that horizontally divides the upper and lower body
UnilateralOne side
VentralTowards the abdomen, or the center, or the lower surface
VerticalPerpendicular to the horizon
VisceralDeep

Appendicular Body

AppendicularAppendages or limbs
ArmThe region of the body from the shoulder to the elbow
DistalAway from the trunk of the body or the point of reference, or towards the end of a limb
DorsalPertaining to the back of the foot or hand (the other side from the sole or the palm)
FibularPertaining to the lateral side of the leg
ForearmThe region of the body from the elbow to the wrist
LegThe region of the body from the knee to the ankle
PalmarPertaining to the palm of the hand
PlantarPertaining to the sole of the foot
ProximalCloser to the trunk of the body or the point of reference
RadialPertaining to the lateral side of the forearm
ThighThe region of the body from the hip to the knee
TibialPertaining to the medial side of the leg
UlnarPertaining to the medial side of the forearm
ValgusDistal segment of a joint that deviates laterally. ( e.g. knock-kneed)
VarusDistal segment of a joint that deviates medially. ( e.g. bow-legged)
VolarRelating 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.

AbductionMovement of a limb away from the midline of the body, usually in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
AdductionMovement of a limb towards the midline of the body, usually in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
AngulationChanging the angle between the axis of articulating bones
CircumductionCircular movement of a limb that combines abduction, flexion, adduction and extension
CounternutationNodding of the sacrum posteriorly and slightly upward relative to the top of the pelvis
DepressionScapula: moving the scapula downward in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
DeviationWrist: 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
DorsiflexionAnkle: moving the ankle so the toes move towards the knee
ElevationScapula: moving the scapula upward in the Frontal (Coronal) Plane
EversionAnkle: twisting the foot laterally, outward so that the sole of the foot faces to the side. Also called pronation.
ExtensionStraightening a joint that increases the joint angle, commonly posteriorly in the Side (Sagittal) Plan
FlexionBending at a joint that decreases the joint angle, commonly anteriorly in the Side (Sagittal) Plan
InversionAnkle: twisting the foot medially, inward so that the sole of the foot faces to the midline of the body
NutationNodding of the sacrum anteriorly and slightly downward relative to the top of the pelvis
OppositionThumb: moving the thumb and the palm closer together
PlantarflexionAnkle: moving the ankle so the toes move away from the knee
PronationForearm: 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.
ProneLying on the stomach
ProtractionScapula: abducting the scapula away from each other
RetractionScapula: adduction of the scapula towards each other
RotationCircular turning along the long axis
SupinationForearm: 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
SupineLying on the back
TranslationSliding with no rotation or angulation

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