A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z references

Talking about the body requires some specialized language. Some of this is to pin down exactly what is meant. For instance, many dancers talk about their "stomach muscles" when they mean no such thing. Even the term "abs" is very vague and has lead to many dancers doing ab crunches and sit-ups when they actually wanted to tone the TAs. For this reason, where relevant I try and use the Latin names so there can be no misunderstanding. However, when the common name is well known and obvious I may use that.

There are also body structures that need to be understood. For instance the difference between muscle, tendon, and ligament. Or the importance of fascia. The more you understand how your body is put together the easier it is to get it to work for you - and minimize the potential damage (for instance by trying to stretch ligaments or incorrectly targeting a stretch).

abdominal muscles

These are divided into two main groups superficial and deep.

The superficial abdominal muscles include Obliquus externus, Obliquus Internus, Transversalis Abdominis, Rectus Abdominis, and Pyramidalis and are sometimes referred to as "abs".

Of the deep muscles, Psoas magnus, Psoas parvus, and Iliacus are more commonly referred to as the hip flexors. The Quadratus lumborum connects the ribs to the ilium so is involved in sidebending.4

Also see Hip Flexors, Obliquus externus, Obliquus Internus, Rectus Abdominis , Transversalis Abdominis

Transverse Section


General term for superficial abdominal muscles (Obliquus externus, Obliquus Internus, Transversalis Abdominis, Rectus Abdominis, Pyramidalis). 4

Also see abdominal muscles

Transverse Section Superficial Muscles


science of bodily structure 1



Movement of a bone away from the midline5



Muscles that abduct a part of the body eg gluteus medius is the prime mover for abducting the hip joint.5



Movement of a bone towards the midline5



Muscles that adduct a part of the body5



More to the front 1


anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS)

the bony protuberances at the top of the pelvis to the front
also see "hip bones"



Involves determining an individual's body composition and body type

Also see somatype



Flattened, ribbon shaped tendons 4



See anterior superior iliac spine and iliac spine


bell curve

Used loosely to describe the Normal Probability Curve. The Normal Distribution applies to many natural phenomena. Its main characteristic is that most "things" cluster about the mean. However there are a smaller number which are a little less "average" and a very small number that are a long way from "average".

For instance, in class most students may have similar hamstring flexibility. Yet one student may be very inflexible and another extremely flexible.

Bell Curve


Sac or saclike cavity to lessen friction 1

Some are simple cavities filled with fluid eg between the skin and the kneecap. Some are thin walls of connective tissue covered with cells containing fluid these are found as between muscles or tendons and bones. 4


calf muscles

There are two main calf muscles whose tendons form the achilles tendon. The Gastrocnemius is the most superficial and attaches to the femur. The Soleus lies beneath and attaches to the fibula and tibia.

Tight calf muscles lead to a short stride and poor joint position. This can mean knee damage and bunions in some people.

A simple stretch involves legs astride, front leg bent. The stretch is on the back leg. Stretch gastrocnemius with a straight back leg and soleus with a slight knee flex (15-20). In both cases the heel should be on the ground. 6



provides smooth surface between bones (also present at end of ribs, in nose etc) 4


cervical spine

Connects the head to the thorax and consists of 7 small vertebrae (C1-C7).



A combination of flexion-extension and abduction-adduction in succession, in which the distal end of a part of the body moves in a circle5


connective tissue

Connective tissue proper covers tendons, ligaments, and fascia. These are mostly inelastic being comprised mostly of white fibrous tissue. Yellow elastic tissue predominates in vocal cords and blood vessels.

Cartilage, bone and blood are also forms of connective tissue. 4

Also see ligaments, tendons, fascia


contraction - concentric, eccentric, isometric

concentric contraction is when the muscle shortens under tension causing movement

eccentric contraction is when the muscle lengthens under tension which controls movement caused by something else (another muscle or gravity for instance)

isometric contraction is when there is a contraction but muscle stays at a constant length 5



A body characterized by tall, lean physique. Tends to be very flexible but with low endurance; good nervous system (quick movement possible but also feels pain easily) but a poor digestive system. When weight is gained it tends to go to the hips. 3

Also see somatype.



A body characterized by over weight physique. Tends to be both flexible and have good endurance; good nervous and digestive systems. Least sensitive to pain. 3

Also see somatype



Increasing the angle between the surfaces of the articulating bones5 Generally, movement that takes a part of the body backwards eg tilting the head back is extension of the neck, a backbend is extension of the trunk 2



Muscles that extend a part of the body eg gluteus maximus and hamstrings are the main extensors for the hip joint while the erector spinae group are the extensors for the trunk 5


external obliques
descending obliques

See Obliquus Externus



Connective tissue that envelops entire muscles and bundles of fibres in muscles. 6

These can be quite large. For instance the ilio-tibal band starts in the ilium covers the outside of the thigh to the tibia. This band is very thick and strong and is sometimes a limiting factor for flexibility.

Fascia covering muscle


Decreasing the angle between the surfaces of articulating bones5 Generally, movement that takes a part of the body forwards eg lifting arms forward, lifting the knee is a flexion of the hip2.

also see Lateral Flexion



Muscles that flex a part of the body eg the iliopsoas flexes the hip joint and the rectus abdominus and obliques are flexors for the trunk5

Also see Hip Flexors



Three muscles up the back of the leg which flex the knee and extend the thigh. These muscles attach the pelvis to the tibia (front and back) and the pelvis & back of the femur to the fibula 2

Hamstrings cannot be stretched on a supporting leg as they contract involuntarily to stabilize the pelvis. At the same time, "toe touching" causes tearing and weakening of ligaments in the lower back. This damage is permanent.6
See dangers of toe touching

Hamstring muscles

"hip bones"

There are two meanings of "hip bone" (which is why Latin is used I guess). Strictly speaking the hip bone (Os Innominatum) is the whole of the ilium, ischium, and os pubis which form the hip socket. There are two of these units in the pelvis.

"Hip bones" is also used by laypeople to mean the bony protuberances at the top of the pelvis to the front. Properly they are the anterior superior iliac spines.

The latter is used to check pelvic tilt and are where the hip scarf is tied across to check movement in horizontal hip circles and figure eights.

Also see iliac spine, ilium, neutral pelvis, pelvis

Bones of the Os Innominatum Side view of Ilium

hip flexors

Muscles that flex the hip. The major muscles are the psoas and iliacus muscles. There are six other muscles that contribute to hip flexion.

The psoas connects the lumbar spine to the femur. The Iliacus connects the iliac crest to the femur. The Psoas magnus and Iliacus share a tendon and are sometimes described as a single muscle (iliopsoas) but the superior attachments are different. 2

Deep Muscles


Hyperextension is an over extension. It can be used to describe an overly arched lower back.

It is also used to describe a knee that has been pushed back significantly past 180 (genu recurvatum)


iliac crest

The curved part of the ilium that is concave inwards at the front and concave outwards behind, terminating at the iliac spines. The surface is broad and divided into internal and external lips.

Attached to the iliac crest are a number of tendons, muscles and fascia for the abdomen, thigh, and back. 4

Bones of the Os Innominatum

iliac spine

Spine here just means a sharp-pointed protuberance.

There are two iliac spines one to the front (anterior superior iliac spine - ASIS) also known as the "hip bone" and one to the back (posterior superior iliac spine).

Also see hip bones, ilium, neutral pelvis

Side view of Ilium

ilio-tibal band

See fascia



Is the upper, broad flat bone in the pelvic girdle

Pelvic Girdle

internal obliques
(ascending obliques)

See Obliquus Internus


ischial tuberosity

Is the lowest bony part of the pelvis.
Sometimes called "sitz bone" or "sitting bone"

Pelvic Girdle

joint capsule

A sleevelike structure that encloses the joint, prevents loss of fluid, and binds together the ends of the articulating bones. 2



Junction of two bones that allow motion; often enclosed by a "joint capsule" of connective tissue



curvature of the spine, convex backwards 1



A posture type where the thoracic spine is convexly curved and the lower back is inwardly curved due to an anteriorly tilted pelvis. Cervical lordosis is often developed to compensate.

In addition to the corrections needed for the lordosis, the shoulder and thoracic spine need to be mobilized. For the cervical lordosis, the chin needs tucking and the neck lengthening. 7

Also see lordosis

Posture Types

lateral flexion

also known as sidebending and applies to the trunk and spine. Right lateral flexion means you bend to the right. 2


lateral flexors

Muscles that laterally flex the body eg the obliques and quadratus lumborum5



Join bones together; provide joint stability. If under protracted stress will permanently elongate (plastic deformity).Tears cause permanent damage Ligament always longer & less effective; scar tissue always weaker and more likely to tear 6


linea alba

A line of tendinous tissue that runs from the end of the sternum to the pubis4



curvature of the spine, convex forwards 1

A posture type where the lower back is inwardly curved due to an anteriorly tilted pelvis. With this posture type the lower abs and external obliques need strengthening; all the posterior muscles need stretching; often the hip flexors and quads need stretching as well; any exercise that hyperextends the back should be avoided. 7

Also see kyphosis/lordosis, neutral pelvis, sway back

Posture Types

lumbar spine

The 5 large weight bearing vertebrae connect the thoracic spine to the sacrum (L1-L5).


Glossary M-Z


1 The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Oxford, 7th ed, 1982
2 Calais-Germain, Blandine, Anatomy of Movement, Eastland Press, 1993
3 Fitt, S, Dance Kinesiology, Schirmer Books
4 Gray, Henry, Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical, 15th ed, Bounty Books, 1977
5 Queensland University of Technology 2002, KDB198 Safe Dance Practices notes, Brisbane, QUT
6 Stark, Dr Steven D, The Stark Reality of Stretching, 4th ed (rev),The Stark Reality Corp, 1999 (1997)
7 St George, Francine, Muscle Fitness Book, Simon & Schuster Australia, 1995 (1989)
8 St George, Francine, The Stretching Handbook, Simon & Schuster Australia, 1994
9 lectures with Michael Dalgleish

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