What is a hinge joint?

A hinge joint is a kind of synovial joint which exists in the body and helps to allow motion primarily in one plane. The hinge joint is constituted of two or more bones with articular surfaces which are covered by hyaline cartilage as well as being lubricated by synovial fluid. Stabilisation of each hinge joint is by muscles, ligaments in addition to other connective tissues, such as the joint capsule.

The hinge joints of the body comprise the following:

  • Elbow
  • Knee
  • Interphalangeal (IP) joints of the hand and foot
  • Tibiotalar joint of the ankle.

What is the movement displayed by the hinge joint?

The hinge joint allows for flexion/extension. In addition, it offers ease of movement but only provides movement in one plane (no twisting no side to side). The hinge joint is an essential component of the complex biomechanics of the human body. The knee, elbow and ankle are able to support large amounts of force and help in the performance of work. Interphalangeal joints are smaller and contribute mainly to dexterity. A hinge joint is more stable than a ball and socket joint but offers less mobility.

A great example of a hinge joint is at your elbow. There are two bones in your forearm which interact at the elbow joint. Only the Ulna forms a hinge joint. When you are in an anatomical position, and you bend your elbow as if taking in your palm to your shoulder, this is the movement of the hinge joint.

Exercises involving the hinge joint

The following exercises are great examples of movements which recruit the hinge joint.

Swimming

With the elbow and/or the arm, flexion is moving your forearm and hand toward your body by bending the elbow joint, while elbow extension moves in the opposite direction.

Push-Ups and Pull-Ups

These two exercises involve elbow flexion and extension.

For push-ups, put your hands on the ground about shoulder-width apart and your feet slightly apart on your toes. Tighten your buttocks as you lower your body toward the ground until your chest and hips almost touch the ground. Keep your elbows close to your body. Exhale and push yourself off the ground, keeping your head in alignment with your spine and hip.

While push-ups aren’t difficult, they do need strength and engagement from many different parts of your body. These exercises challenge our pecs, our triceps, the back of the shoulders and also require a good understanding of core and hip stability. A push-up is, after, a moving plank, o your core plays a huge role.

For pull-ups, grab both hands on a pull-up bar or similar apparatus about shoulder-width apart. Exhale, and pull yourself up until your chin clears over the bar. Lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended. For each of the exercises, perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

The pull-up is an upper-body as well as a compound exercise. Your back, as well as your arms, pull your body up while your abs stop your lower back from arching. You can emphasise your arms by holding the bar with your palms facing up. These are chin-ups and they’re effective for building bigger arms.

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