What is the Frontal Plane?

Posted on 09 Oct 2012 14:06

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The frontal plane is one of several anatomical planes which are used as positional references in biomechanics, kinesiology, anatomy, and related fields. They are especially useful for describing movements. The frontal plane, also called the coronal or lateral plane, is an imaginary plane (a flat, two-dimensional surface) that passes through one side of the body to the other and divides the body into front and back halfs (anterior and posterior). It is perpendicular to any sagittal plane. Many different frontal planes can be imagined to pass through the body, but we usually refer to the frontal plane intersecting the midpoint or center of gravity of the body, to divide it into equal front and back halves. This is the cardinal frontal plane. While there can be many frontal planes, there is only one cardinal frontal plane.

Each anatomical plane corresponds also with an anatomical axis. The anatomical axis that corresponds with the frontal plane is the sagittal axis or anterioposterior axis (sometimes spelled anterior-posterior), which is a line that runs perpendicular to the frontal plane. All frontal plane movements take place around this axis. Movements in the frontal plane are adduction, abduction, lateral flexion (bending the spine to the side), eversion and inversion (foot and ankle). When you perform lateral raises, you are working in the frontal plane. A side lunge would be another example of a frontal plane movement.

frontal or coronal plane diagram

Frontal (Coronal) Plane
original image by Edoarado via wikimedia

frontal or coronal plane diagram

Frontal (Coronal) Plane
original image by Edoarado via wikimedia

If you stand in the anatomical position, and raise one arm up to the side (abduction), you are moving the arm in the frontal plane. Now, imagine the anterioposterior axis as a line running straight through the middle of your body. This line passes perpendicularly through the frontal plane. If you bend your torso to the side (lateral flexion) you are twisting the body around this axis, and moving in the frontal plane. In this way, once you understand the plane of movement you can easily know the axis; and when you know the axis you can know the plane. However, most natural human movements take place in multiple planes. For more information see Kinetic Anatomy by Robert Behnke

1. Behnke, Robert S. Kinetic Anatomy. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2012.
2. McGinnis, Peter Merton. Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human
Kinetics, 2005.
3. Kendall, Florence Peterson, and Florence Peterson Kendall. Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005.

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This page created 09 Oct 2012 14:06
Last updated 17 Jul 2016 22:43

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