Extension (kinesiology)

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Anatomical planes in a human. Extension usually occurs in the coronal plane when the body is in the anatomical position
The leg extension is an isolation exercise.

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List of terms related to Extension (kinesiology)

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Extension is a movement of a joint that results in increased angle between two bones or body surfaces at a joint. Extension usually results in straightening of the bones or body surfaces involved. For example, extension is produced by extending the flexed (bent) elbow. Straightening of the arm would require extension at the elbow joint. If the head is tilted all the way back, it is said to be extended. Note: while, extension is a movement, the terms "extend" versus "flexed refer to the final position of a body part with reference to the anatomical position of the body. For, example, if an arm fully bent at the elbow is slightly extended, it will still be called "flexed" or "semiflexed", and will be called "extended" only upon complete straightening of the arm.

The movement in the opposite directions is called flexion. Flexion decreases the angle between the bones of the limb at a joint, while extension increases it.

With the foot, extension (elevation) is usually called dorsiflexion.

If a part of the body is overstretched because of exaggerated extension motion, then one speaks of a hyperextension (as with the knee). This puts a lot of stress on the ligaments of the joint, and need not always be a voluntary movement, but may occur as part of accidents, falls, or other causes of trauma.

In some anatomical muscle names, particularly with muscles of the forearm and the Cnemis, the term occurs explicitly as the second word in the Latin spelling of the name (for example, Musculus extensor carpi ulnaris).

Muscles of extension

Upper limb

Lower limb


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