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September 25, 2013, 12:00AM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  0 Comments

Muscles That Move the Arm

As a fitness professional and an exam candidate, there is no way of getting around the fact that you need to know your anatomy! Understanding how the body moves and creates movement with the muscles is a huge part of the job. In an earlier blog, we looked at how to study anatomy. We then started breaking down each body part, with the last blog looking at the muscles that move the scapulae.

Here, we will look at the muscles that move the arm at the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints.

Shoulder Joint

The glenohumeral joint (commonly referred to as the shoulder joint) consists of the humerus bone attaching into the scapula. Many actions occur at this ball-and-socket joint.

Arm movement

Action of the Shoulder

What the Action Looks Like (Move Your Body!)

Primary Muscles

Shoulder abduction

Lift your arms out to the side

Deltoid – all fibers

Shoulder adduction

Lower your arms to your side

Pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi

Shoulder flexion

Lift your arms in front of you

Pectoralis major, and anterior fibers of the deltoid

Shoulder extension

Lower your arms from lifted or lift your arms behind you

Latissimus dorsi, teres major (“little lat”)

Internal shoulder rotation

From the anatomical position, twist your arms so that the knuckles of your hand face forward.
This action at the shoulder can occur when your arm is in different positions (flexion, abduction, etc.)

Subscapularis
Latissimus dorsi and pectoralis major also play a role in internal rotation

External shoulder rotation

From the anatomical position, twist your arms so that the knuckles of your hand face backward.
This action at the shoulder can occur when your arm is in different positions (flexion, abduction, etc.)

Infraspinatus and teres minor

Horizontal abduction

For the start postion, lift your arms in front of you. The action occurs as you then move your arms out to the side

Latissimus dorsi and posterior fibers of deltoid

Horizontal adduction

For the start position, lift your arms out to the side. The actions occurs as you then move your arms in front of you

Pectoralis major and anterior fibers of deltoid

 

Superficial shoulder muscles

Rotator cuff muscles

Elbow and Wrist Joints

The elbow joint consists of the humerus bone and the radius and ulna bones. The two main actions at the elbow are flexion and extension. The wrist joint consists of the distal ends of the radius and ulna and the carpal bones of the hand. The two main actions of the wrist are flexion and extension.

Elbow and Wrist Joints

Action of the Elbow and Wrist

What the Action Looks Like (Move Your Body!)

Primary Muscles

Elbow flexion

Bend your elbow

Biceps brachii

Elbow extension

Straighten your elbow

Triceps brachii

Wrist flexion

Bend your hand towards your forearm

Wrist flexors

Wrist extension

Bend your hands backwards

Wrist extensors

 

Chest, Shoulder, Arm, and Wrist

A helpful way to learn the muscles is to get up out of your chair and move and mimic the actions for the muscles you are learning that week. Look at the picture of the muscle, find it on your body, and picture how the muscle is contracting and what muscles are involved in the movement.

Make the muscle contract and complete the different actions that muscle is involved in.

Stay tuned for our next blog in this series, which will discuss the muscles of the core. If you have any additional questions that were not answered in this blog, please don't hesitate to contact our Resource Center at 1-888-825-3636 ext. 796 or resource@acefitness.org.

By Bindi Delaney


Bindi Delaney is the Professional Education Coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. She is an ACE Master Trainer, ACE-certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach and holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. Bindi moved to the USA from Australia in 2011 and is an exercise fanatic who loves to take on new challenges, recently completing an Ironman triathlon just for the fun of it!

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