Physical therapists spend their day analyzing and dissecting movement, finding ways for people to optimize their movement so they can get back to the activities they enjoy, such as golfing, running, or playing tennis. While you may not be thinking about what goes into each of these activities, when you are unable to participate due to injury, your PT is definitely trying to figure out what component needs to be addressed. One thing PTs will be looking at is the different planes of movement involved in your particular activity.
There are three movement planes to be addressed -
transverse - which are described below.
Sagittal plane -
You can think of this as the forward and back plane. When you are walking or running you're primarily moving in the sagittal plane. Your arms are swinging back and forth, your legs swing out in front of you and push the ground behind you, and you move forward. This is the plane we spend the most time in day to day and often what we focus on when working out at the gym. Exercises where you push away from or pull towards yourself such as bench press or rows, are sagittal plane movements.
Frontal plane -
Think of this as side to side movements. When you are trying to squeeze through a closing door and you turn sideways, you are using a frontal plane movement. You move in the frontal plane when you are shuffling side to side on the tennis court or while guarding someone during basketball. You even use the frontal plane at home when reaching to the sides to grab spices or utensils while cooking.
Transverse plane -
When you think of the transverse plane, think rotation. Whenever you look over your shoulder to check your blind spot while driving or throw a Frisbee to your dog, you are using the transverse plane. Even during a simple reach across your body, you create rotation through your spine which means you are moving in the transverse plane.
Can you identify what planes you are moving in during your own day to day or recreational activities?
You might find you are actually combining movement planes such as sagittal and transverse during a throw where you generate power through rotation but are also creating a forward movement of the ball. If for some reason you are unable to participate in an activity you love, consider what movement planes you are having difficulty with and let your PT know. The PTs at CTS are trained to consider each of these planes and help you move better in all of them so that you can keep doing what you love, pain and injury-free.