The six fundamental movements of major body segments are flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, rotation, and circumduction. Flexion is decreasing the angle between body segments, an example being a bicep curl whenever the wrist is moving closer to the shoulder. When the wrist is let back down away from the shoulder it is called extension, or an increase in the angle between two body segments.
Abduction is the movement of a body segment away from the midline. Hip abduction is pressing your hips outward and away from the midline of your body. When your legs come back toward centerline it is called adduction, or movement of a body segment toward the midline. Rotation is a circular movement of a body segment about a long axis. Rotation is commonly seen in sports such as tennis, where backhanding a tennis ball requires rotation of the upper arm. Circumduction is a combination of movements outlining a geometric cone such as arm circles.
Some exercise use multiple fundamental movements, kicking a soccer ball is one example of this. When you kick a soccer ball, first your leg hyperextends to “wind up” the kick. Then as it moves forward to generate power, flexion occurs until your leg moves past your centerline and forward into further extension. As your leg extends forward, leg adduction is common considering contact is made using the inside of the foot. The foot during the kick is rotated outward with slight eversion.
Understanding the fundamental movements will help you a better understanding of the body’s kinesthetic movements and how they pertain to exercise. Having a solid understanding of this plus biomechanics will allow you to be more conscious about form and injury preventing and performance enhancing movements.