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A Primer on Three-Dimensional Movement

Your typical, everyday body movements happen in three dimensions. So it’s important not to fall into the trap of exercising in only one of them (think: doing only bicep curls and forward lunges). Let’s do a little primer on the three planes of movement.

1) The sagittal plane divides the body into left and right sections. These are “forward and backward” movements. Standard crunches are an example of movements in this plane.

2) The frontal plane divides the body into front and back sections. When you do jumping jacks you’re moving in this plane.

3) The transverse plane divides the body into top and bottom sections. It’s the plane involved in rotational movements. This is the plane your arm is moving through when you swing a tennis racket.

A patient of Finish Line Physical Therapy who is also a runner is probably familiar with the “lunge matrix.” The Gray Institute defines a matrix as a “logical progression of movements or techniques for a specific or desired purpose.” The lunge matrix typically involves a progression of a forward lunge, a side lunge and a rotational lunge. This allows someone to get the most out of the workout, and for runners it most closely mimics the running motion. (Check out this video demonstration of the lunge matrix.)

Another example is in plank position. Instead of holding a static plank for two minutes, a dynamic progression — including letting your hips dip to the ground, gliding the hips side to side, and rotating them from side to side — will exercise core muscles in all three dimensions.

Much of your exercises will be three-dimensional as a patient at Finish Line Physical Therapy. Whether you’re doing prehab or rehab, exercising in all three of these planes will lead to an overall improvement and fluidity of movement.

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