Dorsiflexion vs. Plantar Flexion Video

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  • 0:04 Flexing Your Muscle
  • 0:27 Dorsiflexion
  • 1:52 Plantar Flexion
  • 2:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Have you ever heard of dorsiflexion or plantar flexion? These terms can be confusing, but this lesson quickly and clearly defines and distinguishes between the two of them for you.

Flexing Your Muscle

When we hear of flexing one's muscles, we tend to think of big muscular men flexing their biceps or their pectorals. Of course, flexion occurs throughout your body for the purposes of motion. You can flex all sorts of aspects of the body, not just your arms.

This lesson defines and differentiates two particular terms with respect to flexion; they are dorsiflexion and plantar flexion.


To better understand what dorsiflexion means, let's break this word down really quickly.

'Dorsi-' is a word part that comes to us from dorsum, which refers to the back. So 'dorsi-' refers to the back itself or toward the back of something. The back region of your dog or cat, the one you pet with your hand, is the animal's dorsum. The back of your hand is the dorsal part of the hand. The back (or top/upper) part of your foot, the one opposite the side you walk on, is the dorsal aspect of the foot.

'-Flexion' is a word part that, in its very basic sense, refers to the bending of a joint or limb. More specifically, however, flexion is a type of movement that ends up decreasing the angle between two articulating bones. Confused? Try this then. Stretch out your entire arm. It should be as straight as a log. Now bend the arm at the elbow. Do you see how the angle between your upper arm bone and one of the lower arm bones begins decreasing from 180 degrees (completely straight) to something less than that? This is flexion.

Dorsiflexion refers to the backward or upward motion of a part of the body. Think of it as bending something back. It's commonly used with respect to the movement of the hand or foot.

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