Dani Lieberman


Pilates Terminology



Long Bone: Are longer than wide – include: clavicle, humerus, radius, ulna, femur, tibia, fibula, metacarpals and phalanges.

Short Bones: Are both wide and short – include: found in wrist and ankles

Flat Bones: Ribs, sternum, scapulae, and bones in the vault of the skull

Irregular Bones: bones of mixed shapes, skull, vertebra and pelvic bones

Sesamoid Bones: are imbedded in certain tendons and reduce friction/pressure on tendons, protecting them from wear

Gross Motor Skills: movements with larger actions – running, crawling, jumping

Fine Motor Skills: movements with smaller actions – licking lips, lifting a glass….


Moveable: synovia/diarthroidal

Non-moveable: joined by fibrous connective tissue or cartilage

Synovial: free moveable joints containing a fluid-filled cavity between the bones

Hinge: Types are where one convex surface meets a concave surface--movement in flexion and extension

Condyloid: oval shaped process of one bone fits into the elliptical cavity of another - movement in flex/ext & abd/add

Osteokinematics: movements of bones at joints – flexion, abduction, rotation

Arthrokinematics: small motions between joint surfaces

Component motion: not voluntary active motion – scapula upwardly rotating naturally

Extension: movement that occurs at the joints where bones articulate.

Hyperextension: movement beyond its normal range

Flexion: movement that bends a joint (brings the bones closer together) Ex. Fetal position (most joints close together)

            *Both Flexion & Extension take place in the Sagittal plane.

Abduction: moves limb laterally away from midline

Adduction: moves limb toward midline

            * Abduction & Adduction – along the Frontal Plane – and pertain only to appendages

Medial Rotation: the limb turns in towards the midline

Lateral Rotation: moves the limb away from the midline

            * Movement occurs at the shoulder & hip joints

Rotation: refers to only the axial skeleton (specifically head & vertebral column).  Ex. Rotation of head or neck

            * Movement occurs along the Transverse plane

Circumduction: is possible only at shoulder & hip joints. It involves a combination of flexion, extension, adduction and abduction; together these actions create a cone-shaped movement. Backstroke requires circumduction at the shoulder joint.

Proximal: nearer to center of body

Distal: farther from center of body

Anterior: front

Posterior: back

Medial: toward the midline

Lateral: away from the midline

Prone: lying face down

Supine: lying Face Up

Lateral Flexion: occurs at the axial skeleton. Ex. Head or vertebral column, bend laterally to the side

Supination: palm face up (radius and ulna lie parallel to one another), raising of the arch

Pronation: palm face down (radius crosses over the ulna), flattening of the arch

Plantar Flexion: >90 between the front ankle and shin. Think of pointing your foot away from you.

Dorsiflexion: <90 between the front ankle and shin. Think of pulling your toes towards your body.

Protraction: (“protrude”) move away anteriorly

Retraction: (“retract”) move away posteriorly

            *Pertain to the scapula, clavicle, head and jaw.

Elevation: movement superiorly (“up” - towards the ceiling)

Depression: movement inferiorly (‘down’ – away, lower)

Sagittal plane: divides the body into left and right portions – flex/ext.

Transverse (Horizontal) plane: plane that divides the body into superior and inferior - rotation

Frontal (Coronal) Plane: vertical plane, divides the body into anterior (front) and posterior (back)

Superficial: nearer the surface of the body; the opposite of the deep

Inferior: Away from the head

Dorsal: relating to the back; posterior

Kyphosis: condition characterized by abnormally increased convexity in the curve of the thoracic spine from side view

Edema: body tissues retain excessive amounts fluid

Kinesiology: the study of movement

Tactile: pertaining to touch


Hyaline: cartilage that unites synchondroses or primary cartilaginous joints

Fibrocartilage: joins symphysis (secondary cartilaginous joints) by a plate --union of the bodies of the vertebrae or the R/L pubis

Symphysis: a union between two bones formed by fibrocartilage

Synchondrosis: a union between two bones formed by hyaline cartilage or fibrocartilage

Synovial Joint: a joint containing a lubricating substance (synovial fluid) lined with a synovial membrane or capsule

Tendon: fibrous tissue connecting skeletal muscle to bone

Ligament: fibrous connective tissue that connects bone to bone

Connective Tissue: supportive tissues made of fibrous tissues

Fibrous joint: joints that are connected by fibrous tissue

Fascicle: bundle of muscle fibers

Fascia: dense layers of loose connective tissue

Facet: small plane or concave surface

Impingement: an encroachment on the space occupied by soft tissue, such as nerve or muscle

Condyle: rounded articular surface at the extremity of a bone

Bursa – small fluid sac that reduces friction between two surfaces

Unilateral: pertaining to one side; m. 1 leg stable in sp. press pedal down with other leg. Avoid rotation of pedal/torso

Bilateral: pertaining to two sides; Split pedal and complete exercise, keep both sides of pedal even

Reciprocal: one then the other; Alternating pressing pedals down with each leg, switching legs simultaneously. Exhale on each press

Concentric Contraction: shortening, muscle fibers contract and generate more force than the resistance that is present so that the ends of the muscle slide toward each other and the muscle shortens. Ex. Knee stretch series

Eccentric Contraction: lengthening. Muscle fibers contract and generate less force than the resistance that is present so that the ends of the muscle slide apart and the muscle actually lengthens. The muscle is active as it lengthens, so this is not the same as relaxing the muscle.

Isometric: muscles contracting while staying the same length. (Increase in tension w/o change in length.)

Isotonic: increase in tension with change in muscle length (Shortening – concentric contraction.)

Isotonic contraction (dynamic): concentric or eccentric contraction of a muscle; a muscle contraction performed w/ movement.

Lordosis: anterior curve of the cervical and lumbar spine

Kyphosis: posterior curves in the thoracic and sacral regions of spine

Flat-back: flat spine, decreased lumbar lordosis, hip extension, posterior pelvic tilt

Sway-back: anterior pelvis, hip extension, posterior shifted thorax, increased lumbar lordosis/thoracic kyphosis, forward head


ASIS: anterior superior iliac spine – projection of ilium at the front of the pelvis

PSIS: posterior superior iliac spine, projection of the ilium at the back of the pelvis