Original Editor - Justine Haroon

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Justine Haroon and Laura Ritchie  

'Arthrokinematics' refers to the movement of joint surfaces.

The angular movement of bones in the human body occurs as a result of a combination of rolls, spins, and slides.

A roll is a rotary movement, one bone rolling on another.

A spin is a rotary movement, one body spinning on another.

A slide is a translatory movement, sliding of one joint surface over another.


The convex-concave rule is the basis for determining the direction of the mobilizing force when joint mobilization gliding techniques are used to increase a certain joint motion.

The direction in which sliding occurs depends on whether the moving surface is concave or convex

Concave = hollowed or rounded inward

Convex = curved or rounded outward

If the moving joint surface is CONVEX, sliding is in the OPPOSITE direction of the angular movement of the bone.

If the moving joint surface is CONCAVE, sliding is in the SAME direction as the angular movement of the bone.


  • Glenohumeral articulation: concave glenoid fossa articulates with the convex humeral head

Glenohumeral posterior glide increases flexion and internal rotation

Glenohumeral anterior glide increases extension and external rotation

  • Humeroradial articulation: convex capitulum articulates with the concave radial head

Dorsal or posterior glide of the head of radius increases elbow extension

Volar or anterior glide of the head of the radius increases elbow flexion

  • Hip joint: concave acetabulum articulates with the convex femoral head

Hip posterior glide increases flexion and internal rotation

Hip anterior glide increases extension and external rotation

  • Tibiofemoral articulation: concave tibial plateaus articulate on the convex femoral condyles

Tibiofemoral posterior glide increases flexion

Tibiofemoral anterior glide increases extension

  • Talocrural joint: convex talus articulates with the concave mortise (tibia and fibula)

Talocrural dorsal or posterior glide increases dorsiflexion

Talocrural ventral or anterior glide increases plantarflexion


Kisner, C. & Colby, L.A. (2002). Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques, 5th ed. F.A. Davis: Philadelphia.

Recent Related Research (from Pubmed)


References will automatically be added here, see adding references tutorial.

  1. dmouraful. Convex and Concave Rule. Available from:[last accessed 15/12/12]
  2. Jennifer Reft. Joint mobility, arthokinematics. Available from:[last accessed 15/12/12]
  3. tsudpt11. Osteokinematics of the Hip. Available from:[last accessed 15/12/12]
  4. Jennifer Reft. Knee Osteokinematics and Arthokinematics. Available from:[last accessed 15/12/12]
  5. DrGlassDPM. Ankle Subtalar Joint Motion Function Explained Biomechanic of the Foot. Available from:[last accessed 15/12/12]

The Shoulder

Learn about the shoulder in this month's Physiopedia Plus learn topic with 5 chapters from textbooks such as Magee's Orthopedic Physical Assessment, 2014 & Donatelli's Physical therapy of the shoulder 2012.

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