Moving our body in 3D is an idea that everyone should familiarize themselves with. Training in 3D helps to increase range of motion, decrease compensation, and improve performance! Training in 3D means utilizing all three planes of motion of the human body. The three planes of motion are help us categorize movements into their directional dominance. The three planes of movements are:
Sagittal Plane – This plane divides the body into left and right halves. Imagine that a square is dividing a body into left and right halves, any movement along the direction of the square would be considered a sagittal dominant movement. To oversimplify this, any movement acting just forward and backward without any significant lateral or rotational aspect, is considered sagittal dominant. Most movements we tend to see people perform when exercising are in this plane, examples include: running, biking, rowing, squatting, forward and backward lunging, bench press, etc.
Frontal Plane – This planed divides the body into front and back halves. If we imagined a square splitting the body this way, any movement along the square would be considered frontal dominant. Oversimplified, these are lateral (side to side) movements. Think about bringing your arms away form the side of your torso or spreading your legs wide. Typical exercises you may have seen include: shuffling, hip abduction/adduction, lateral squats, shoulder lateral raises, etc.
Transverse Plane – This plane divides the body into upper and lower halves. Imagine now that the square is splitting the body through the torso; any movement along this plane is considered transverse dominant. Most transverse dominant movements or of the rotational type, although there are exceptions. These movements work across planes and are highly underutilized. Transverse movements you may be familiar with are: baseball/golf swings, chopping, windmills, etc.
We experience all of these planes on a daily basis somehow. We experience problems because our modern, convenient lifestyle tends to have sagital plane over-dominance. Very rarely need to move laterally or rotationally except for very small periods of time. Having over-dominance in one plane hinders our bodies ability to perform movements in the other plane with efficiency, which tends to cause compensation and immobility. Our bodies our always adapting to our lifestyle so what we don’t use, we lose. It becomes more important, then, that we become mindful of this and try to incorporate more multi-planar movements when we have the opportunity.
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-Howard Bowens III