Circumduction

This is the Joint Movements section about the types of movements between bones at joints in the body.

The expressions listed in this category could also be described as:

  • actions at joints
  • actions of muscles, or
  • muscle actions

For a single list of all the movements of the body included in this section see types of movements at joints.


Anatomy and Human Movement: Structure and function with PAGEBURST Access

Sport and Exercise Science: An Introduction by Murray Griffin and Philip Watkins

Circumduction is sometimes described as simply a "circular movement"
because circumduction movements of (e.g. the arm and hand) result in the outer edge of the limb (e.g. the finger tips) tracing circles in space. Another way to express this is to say that circumduction is the movement of the distal end of a body part so that it traces a circle.

However, circumduction is more accurately described as a conical movement at a joint due to the cone formed by the rotating limb (i.e. the distal end of the limb traces a circle while the movement of the length of the limb traces a cone shape).

Short definition of Circumduction:

Circumduction is a conical movement of a limb extending from the joint (e.g. shoulder or hip) at which the movement is controlled. True circumduction allows for 360 degrees of movement.

Examples of Circumduction:

  1. Circumduction of an arm (from the shoulder joint):
    Hold an arm extended outwards from the body e.g. the right hand extended to the right side. Circumduction is the movement that occurs when the arm is held straight at the elbow joint while whole limb from the shoulder to the finger tips is moved as if to draw circles with the hand/fingers at arms length from the centre of the body.
  2. Circumduction of a leg (from the hip joint):
    Holding one leg straight at the knee joint rotate that straight leg from the hip so that the extreme end of the leg (e.g. the great toe if the foot is pointed outwards) traces a circle as it moves around in space.

Other similar movements:

Some other joints including some of the condyloid joints at the wrist and the base of the fingers are sometimes said to be able to produce a circumduction movement. However, the apparent rotation at these joints is really - that is, more accurately, a combination of flexion and extension, abduction, and adduction movements. Only the ball-and-socket joints at the shoulder and hip execute true 360 degree circumduction movements.


See also list of definitions of muscle terminology (words used to convey information about specific muscles) - useful for studying human anatomy and physiology, sports sciences e.g. physical education (PE), physiotherapy, and other health sciences.

About this section:

This is the Joint Movements section, which is about the types of movements between bones at joints in the body. Alternatively, terms listed in this category could be described as:

  • actions at joints,
  • actions of muscles or
  • muscle actions.

For a single list summarizing all the movements of the body included in this section see
types of movements at joints.

See also definitions of muscle terminology (words used to convey information about specific muscles) - useful for studying human anatomy and physiology, sports sciences e.g. physical education (PE), physiotherapy, and other health sciences.


Click for pages related to muscles

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