Click Here to go to the Home Page of


A 3 Dimensional World

Back to Articles

We have all done it. We go to the gym and get on the leg extension machine to work our quads. Or we do abdominal crunches on the floor in our house to make our "core" stronger. Even though we do these things with good intentions, performing these exercises that lock us into one plane of movement is not how our bodies function in real life. It is important to understand that every muscle, bone and joint in our body moves and functions in 3 dimensions, or planes. 

3 Dimensions Of Movement

Movement directly forward and/or backward is called sagittal plane motion (think of getting up from a chair). Lateral movement, directly left and right, is called frontal plane motion (think of doing a jumping jack). Finally, twisting or rotational movement is called transverse plane motion (think of looking over your shoulder). Each and every movement in our lives occurs through a combination of motion in all three of these dimensions.

Vitruvian ManA simple way to understand this is to take a closer look at the simple task of walking. As we walk from point A to point B, the majority of motion that occurs in the body is happening in the sagittal (forward/backward) plane. Our knees bend and straighten, our arms swing forward and backward, and our ankles flex and point with each step that we take – all sagittal plane motions.

Now let's consider what is happening in the other planes of movement as we walk. The arm swing that occurs causes our trunk to rotate left and right in the transverse plane. With each stride we take there is important lateral and rotational (frontal and transverse plane) motion that needs to occur in the hips in order to activate the important gluteal muscles that help with absorbing shock as well as propelling us forward.

These movements are important, but commonly overlooked components of walking. If someone has pain in their lower back they may try to eliminate the rotational movement of their trunk. If someone has arthritis or pain in their hip they may try to minimize or eliminate the multi-plane movement in that joint. Reduction of motion in one or more planes of movement will now lead to further dysfunction.

When assessing human movement, especially movement that has turned dysfunctional or painful due to an injury, it is necessary to consider all three planes of motion. Physical therapists with advanced certifications in orthopedics and sports are experts in assessing human movement. More important, these specific physical therapists are experts in assessing why dysfunctional human movement is occurring and figuring out a plan to restore normal human movement. These specialized physical therapists believe that the best and most efficient way to progress someone from injury to return to activity is to teach the body to utilize and move through these three dimensions of movement. Contact a physical therapist directly to ensure you are keeping up in the 3 dimensional world we live in.

Jeff Sallade - APTA Board Certified in Orthopedics and Sports
Ken Guzzardo - APTA Board Certified in Orthopedics and Sports
Owners – 3 Dimensional Physical Therapy

Sharps Run Plaza
175 Route 70, Suite 19
Medford, NJ 08055
(609) 714-3378

Best Of

meet our staff

New patients click here!

Join Our Email List

3DPT on Facebook3DPT on Twitter3DPT on YouTube3DPT on Linkedin

"The team at 3DPT is made up of dedicated and caring Physical Therapists whose expertise and hands-on approach are what I seek for my patients. It is their fundamental philosophy that has made my professional experiences with them nothing short of exemplary."

     -      Dr. Kathryn Gollotto, DO - Orthopedic Reconstruction Specialists