When we are all taught the basic principles of movement, rehabilitation, and strength or performance training we all learn about the planes of motion. So why is it when we go to apply this knowledge in practice we evaluate,treat, and train our athletes/patients in one plane? Is it possible to evaluate,prevent,and treat injury this way when true function lives in all three planes of motion? The simplest answer is no, the reason being that if you took , for example, the motion of dorsiflexion and looked at how foot moves in the sagittal plane. By doing so you are ignoring the calcaneus moving in the frontal plane or the tibia moving in the transverse plane thus, creating dysfunction by increasing function in only one plane.
If we took away the complexities of such movements in their most simplest form, function takes the shape of a sphere. Even the movement of a sphere is quintessentially functional, how it rolls in any and every direction freely and fluidly. As you compare the two pictures of the planes of motion one that is in most textbooks and the other I created. You will note how the one I created makes the sphere we just mentioned around our athlete. This is my idea of the Spherical athlete, someone who is able to move in all three planes of motion as efficiently as possible. What makes this athlete unique is that he or she trains within this sphere and if injury occurs he is treated within this sphere to create the optimum environment of success for this athlete/patient. What is also unique is that I can take that sphere and transplant it over any joint or joints to demonstrate how three dimensional they are in unison with each other. What I would like to know is how do those of you reading this create this sphere or spheres versus an egg, a cylinder, or a cone?
Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES