lateral rotation

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Definition - What does lateral rotation mean?

Lateral rotation is an anatomical term of motion describing rotation along the long axis of a joint. In lateral rotation, this movement is away from the midline of the body and occurs in the transverse plane. As with most twisting motions, strain, awkward positioning, and repetition increase the chance for a work injury. Another term for lateral rotation is external rotation.

SureHire explains lateral rotation

Lateral rotation describes the movement of a body part or muscle group away from the center of the body and around the longitudinal axis of a bone. Lateral rotation refers only to those movements taking place in the transverse plane. A related term, abduction, refers to a rotation away from the body's midline in the frontal plane. These planes are imaginary anatomical dividers used to identify anatomical positions in the body. The transverse (axial) plane divides the body or a body part into a top and bottom section along a horizontal plane. The frontal (coronal) plane divides the body vertically from front to back.

As an example, when the leg is laterally rotated, it is turned out at the hip causing the toes to turn away from the body. Lateral rotation of the elbow turns the arm so that the palm of the hand is facing forward. Lateral rotation of the shoulder engages the muscles of the rotator cuff to rotate the arm along the vertical (long) axis of the humerus outward from the body.

Lateral rotation requires both muscle strength and stability. Awkward posture, repetitive stress, or other musculoskeletal damage to the joints or muscles used for this movement can make the motion painful or impossible. By maintaining proper posture, strengthening the muscles involved in lateral rotation, and avoiding overuse, painful injuries can be avoided.

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