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Qualitative Analysis of Motion

Objectives: • Define the 3 types of motion • Identify the reference position, planes, and axes associated with the human body • Learn the terminology used to qualitatively describe directions and joint motions • Learn how to plan & conduct a qualitative analysis of human movement

Translation (or Linear Motion)
• All parts of an object or system move the same distance in the same direction at the same time

Rectilinear Motion translation along a straight line

Curvilinear Motion translation along a curved line


Angular Motion
• All points in an object or system move in a circle about a single axis of rotation. All points move through the same angle in the same time
Axis of rotation

• Axis of Rotation – imaginary line that the object spins about – oriented perpendicular to the plane of rotation

General Motion
• A combination of translation and rotation • Most human movement consists of general motion

(Hall, 2003)


Anatomical Reference Position
Starting position for describing body segment movements and measuring joint angles (i.e. all joint angles = 0) Reference position:
• Erect standing • Feet separated slightly and pointed forward • Arms hanging at the sides • Palms facing forward

Directional Terms
Superior Inferior Anterior Posterior Medial Lateral Proximal Distal Superficial Deep closer to the head farther from the head toward the front of the body toward the back of the body toward the midline of the body away from the midline of the body closer to the trunk away from the trunk toward the surface of the body away from the surface of the body


Anatomical Reference Planes
• Three imaginary perpendicular planes that divide the body in half by mass

divides into right and left halves

divides into front and back halves

divides into upper and lower halves

Planar Movements
• Movement is said to occur within a plane if the movement is parallel to the plane

Sagittal Motion
forward/back up/down

Frontal Motion
right/left up/down

Transverse Motion
forward/back; right/left


Anatomical Reference Axes
• Imaginary lines about which rotations occur • Pass through a joint’s center of rotation • In reference position, are perpendicular to anatomical planes

axes for sagittal plane rotations

axes for frontal plane rotations

axes for transverse plane rotations

Sagittal Plane Movements
• Flexion
Anterior-directed rotation with respect to proximal segment Exceptions: – Posterior-directed rotation of leg with respect to thigh – Upward rotation of the foot (ankle dorsiflexion)

• Extension
(& ankle plantarflexion) Opposite of flexion

(Hall, 2003)

• Hyperextension
Extension beyond the anatomical position


Frontal Plane Movements
• Abduction (& wrist radial deviation)
Laterally-directed rotation of longitudinal axis with respect to proximal segment Exception: Trunk right & left lateral flexion

• Adduction
(& wrist ulnar deviation) Opposite of abduction

(Hall, 2003)

• Elevation & Depression
of the shoulder girdle

Transverse Plane Movements
• Internal Rotation (& forearm pronation, ankle eversion*)
Medially-directed rotation of anterior aspect (or foot dorsal surface) with respect to proximal segment Exception: Head and trunk right & left rotation
(Hall, 2003)

• External Rotation
(& forearm supination, ankle inversion*) Opposite of internal rotation

• Foot Abduction & Adduction
* frontal plane movements
Internal External


Multiplanar Movements
The structure/geometry of most joints allows movement in multiple planes simultaneously Examples: • Hip: (3 planes) flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, internal/external rotation • Wrist: (2 planes) flexion/extension, abduction/adduction • Subtalar joint: (3 planes) pronation (dorsiflexion, abduction, eversion) supination (plantarflexion, adduction, inversion)

Planar vs. Multiplanar Skills
primarily planar skills

multiplanar skills

(Hall, 2003)


Qualitative Analysis
• Based on the descriptive observation of: – technique – performance outcome • Role of biomechanics: – Understand mechanical requirements of task – Identify underlying cause of problem in technique or performance – Differentiate unrelated factors

Planning a Qualitative Analysis
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. What are major questions to be answered? Determine the optimal viewing perspective(s) Identify appropriate viewing distance How many trials / executions needed? Performer’s attire Select an appropriate environment Visual observation or video camera?


Conducting a Qualitative Analysis

(Hall, 2003)