Uniaxial Joints Explained

In this article we give an overview of uniaxial joints, examples of uniaxial joints and explain their function. We also give some sporting and exercise examples of how this contribute to movement.

What is a uniaxial joint?

A uniaxial joint is a type of joint that allows movement around a single axis, allowing movement through one plane of motion. In the human body this movement is usually flexion/extension. These differ from other joint types that offer two or more ranges of motion.

What are examples of uniaxial joints?

Examples of uniaxial joints in the body include hinge joints, such as those found in the elbow and knee, and pivot joints, such as the atlantoaxial joint, which is formed between the atlas (first vertebrae) and axis (second vertebrae) bones, directly under the skull.

What types of joints are uniaxial joints?

The most common types of joints found in the human body are synovial joints. These are hinge, pivot, ball & socket, ellipsoid, saddle and plane joints. The following are classified as uniaxial joints:

  • Hinge
  • Pivot

If you find a joint classified as one of the above, it will always have one range of motion and therefore be a uniaxial joint.

Sporting actions using uniaxial joints

There are many sporting actions that require uniaxial joints, including kicking a football (flexion/extension coming from the knee) and throwing a baseball (flexion/extension coming from the elbow).

Related terms to uniaxial joints

You may also hear uniaxial joints called monoaxial joints, ‘mono’ derives from the meaning of singular/alone.

In more medical texts you may also come across uniaxial joints referred to as uniaxial articulations. Articulations are points where two or more bones meet, not all articulations provide movement, such as the various bones that make up the skull.

Joints that provide more than one axis of movement are known as biaxial and triaxial / multiaxial joints. Click the links below to read related articles on each topic:

Summary

You should now know that uniaxial joints allow movement around one axis, you should also know where they can be found in the human body and be able to give sporting examples of their use.

As a sport scientist or coach learning about basic anatomy can feel distant from what you wish to do in practice. However, having a detailed understanding of joints, how they work and the actions they allow for allows for a far greater analysis of sporting actions, allow you to better detect where errant technique may come from and what coaching command may help an athlete improve their movement.

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Golf Insider UK | Website | + posts

Will is a sport scientist and golf professional who specialises in motor control and motor learning. Will lecturers part-time in motor control and biomechanics, runs Golf Insider UK and consults elite athletes who are interested in optimising their training and performance.

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