Anatomy in 100 Words: Location and Movement

Science uses very exacting terms to describe locations and movements of the human body. Many terms only make sense when comparing objects in context (e.g. hand is distal to the elbow).

Anterior means “front.” Posterior means “rear.”

Superior means “above.” Inferior means “below.”

Proximal means “towards the torso.” Distal means “further away.” These generally apply to appendages.

Medial means “towards the body’s midline (sternum).” Lateral means “towards the outside (obliques).”

Flexion and extension happen at joints. See the attached diagram.

Adduction means “to bring closer to the body.” Abduction is the opposite.

Left and right mean exactly what you think.