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Types of body movements: want to learn more about it?

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Types of body movements

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will learn how to:

1. Name the terms used to describe the main types of movements found in the human body.
2. Describe the movements performed by the major joints of the human body.

Watch a video

Our musculoskeletal system functions to propel our bodies within space and allows us to interact with the world around us. These movements occur at our synovial joints, as a result of muscles acting on our skeleton. Specific terms are given to each movement to help clearly communicate the way in which a joint is moving. Watch the following video to learn about the various types of movements occurring in the human body.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched our videos on body movement check your knowledge by taking the following quiz.

Browse atlas

Summary

Key points about types of body movements
Terminology of movements
Flexion / extension
Lateral (external) rotation / internal (medial) rotation
Abduction / adduction
Pronation / supination
Elevation / depression
Protraction / retraction
Plantarflexion / dorsiflexion
Eversion / inversion
Opposition / reposition
Lateral flexion
Rotation
Circumduction
Movement at the major joints Shoulder; flexion extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, external rotation, circumduction
Elbow
; flexion extension
Proximal radioulnar joint
; pronation, supination
Wrist
; flexion, extension, adduction and abduction
Hip
; flexion extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, external rotation, circumduction
Knee
; Flexion, extension (small degree of internal-external rotation when knee is flexed)
Ankle
; dorsiflexion, plantarflexion
Subtalar joint
; inversion, eversion
Spine
; flexion, extension, rotation and lateral flexion, rotation (greatest at the atlantoaxial joint)
Mandible
; elevation, depression, protraction, retraction
Scapula
: protraction, retraction, elevation, depression, upward rotation, and downward rotation

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