I always have a great time when I teach the anatomical terminology of movement because students generally find it easy to engage with the material. In my Science of Skeletons class I began experimenting with a charades-style activity that required students to quickly learn anatomical directions, motions, and broad regions (e.g. the appendicular versus axial skeleton). However, one distinction that often trips students up is differentiating between abduction and adduction.
Abduction means movement away from the sagittal plane of the body (or, for fingers and toes, movement away from the midline of the hand or foot).
Adduction refers to movement towards the sagittal plane of the body (or, for fingers and toes, movement towards the midline of the hand or foot).
However because the words are so similar in their spelling, students often forget which term goes with which movement. My fool-proof mnemonic trick for differentiating between the two terms is as follows:
In the summer, when you want to show off your abs at the beach, you keep your arms as far away from your body as possible because it’s so hot out.
In the winter, in constrast, you want to add extra layers to your wardrobe, and you keep your arms close to your body because it is so cold.
I think about ABduction as the process of moving your limbs away from your body when it’s hot out, and ADDuction as the process of keeping your limbs close to your body when it’s cold.
Does anyone else have any creative tricks that they use to differentiate abduction and adduction? Feel free to share tips in the comments!
White, T. D. and P.A. Folkens. (2005) The Human Bone Manual. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Image Credits: Thor abducting his arm while holding Mjölnir found here, Thor adducting his arm while looking pensive found here. Thor abducting his arm while showing of his abs found here, delighted Thor wearing a cloak found here.