Dorsiflexion

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.

Bones and Joints: A Guide for Students

Foundations of Physical Education, Exercise Science, and Sport by Deborah Wuest and Jennifer Fisette

Short definition of dorsiflexion:

Dorsiflexion is backward flexion (bending), as of the hand or foot.

This can also be described as bending in the direction of the dorsum
(dorsum = upper surface = "superior" surface, i.e. the surface of the foot or hand that includes the toe nails or finger nails).

Dorsiflexion of the foot is demonstrated and compared with plantaflexion (which is the opposite of dorsiflexion) in the following video clip - press the play button to start:

Examples of Dorsiflexion:

  1. Dorsiflexion of the foot is sometimes referred to as dorsiflexion of the ankle. Whichever description of the motion is used, the meaning is the same: flexing the ankle joint so that the underside of the foot rotates upwards. That is, the upper surfaces of the toes (including the toe nails) move towards the shin bones at the front of the lower-leg.
    - Only try this exercise if you have no problems with the leg, ankle and foot -
    To dorsiflect a foot first stand with both feet flat on the ground (for balance) then lift the ball of one foot up off the ground so that the toes of that foot are above the surface you are standing on while the heel of that foot remains firmly on the ground.
  2. Dorsiflexion of the hand is sometimes referred to as dorsiflexion of the wrist. Whichever description of the movement is used, the meaning is the same: flexing the wrist joint so that the backs of the fingers (that is the surfaces of the fingers that includes the finger nails) move backwards - towards the lower-arm to which the wrist and hand is attached.
    - Only try this exercise if you have no problems with the arm, wrist and hand -
    To demonstrate dorsiflexion of your right hand, place your lower right arm and hand on a flat surface such as a desk or table so that your elbow is near to your torso and the fingers of your right hand point away from you. Rest the lower part of your right arm and hand on the surface with a straight line between the tips of the fingers of your right hand, through the wrist and along the arm as far as the elbow joint. Rest the palm of your right hand facing downwards into the desk or table.
    Dorsiflexion movement: Keeping your hand in a flat position lift the whole hand upwards by rotating the hand from the wrist only so that the tips of your fingers move the most, tracing a curve upwards in space. Only your hand should move, with the lower-arm from your wrist to your elbow remaining resting on the table/desk. Assuming normal range of movement at the wrist, at the end of this movement the lower arm should not have moved very much but the palm of the hand is pointing forwards (away from you) instead of down into the table or desk. Conversely, the back of the hand is pointing towards you (or towards you and slightly upwards, depending on the range of movement at your wrist joint) instead of pointing directly upwards as at the start of the demonstration.


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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