What do the words mean?? - Forelimb and Hindlimb directional terms

As physios we use a variety of different terms to describe how your pet moves and stands but what do they mean: I will be doing a series of blogs explaining what they mean, why we look out for them and how they can affect your horse or dog.


Basic limb movements

Protraction: the limb moves forwards with the forelimb moving away from the centre and the hindlimb towards the centre

Retraction: the limb moves backwards with the forelimb moving towards the centre and the hindlimb away



Adduction: the limb moves towards the midline of the body



Abduction: the limb moves away from the midline of the body



Basic joint movements

Flexion: this is where the space between the two bones that make up the joint becomes smaller and so reduces the angle.

Extension: where the space between the two bones making up the joint increases and then increases the angle.

Rotation: a small twisting movement around the point of the joint

Below each movement are the major muscles that are involved in creating that movement

Shoulder movement:

Flexion: when the limb is retracted and flexed upwards (jumping position)

- Triceps brachii

- Infraspinatus

- Deltoid

- Teres major and minor

- Latissimus dorsi

Extension: when the limb is protracted

- Supraspinatus

- Biceps brachii


Elbow movement:

Flexion: when the limb protracted there is a small amount of flexion but true flexion of the elbow occurs when flexed upwards (jumping position)

- Biceps brachii

- Brachialis

Extension: when the limb is retracted

- Triceps brachii

- Tensor fasciae antebrachii



Carpal movement:

Flexion: when the limb is retracted