Joints That Move During a Pushup

Your shoulder, elbow and wrist joints move during a pushup.
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There are few fitness moves more basic than the pushup. This exercise requires little floor space and no additional equipment. The targeted joints of the pushup are your shoulders, elbows and wrist. By using your core muscles, you minimize movement to your spine or hip joints and keep your torso and legs oriented in a straight line.

Shoulder Joint

During a pushup, you move your shoulder joint through transverse extension and transverse flexion. Transverse extension is moving your upper arms away from your chest. This happens when your elbows move out to the sides as you lower down into your pushup. Transverse flexion occurs when you move your upper arm towards your chest by bringing your elbows inward. This occurs as you rise out of your pushup. The main muscle used during transverse extension is your rear deltoid. The main muscles used during transverse flexion are your pectoralis muscles and front deltoid.

Elbow Joint

When you descend into your pushup, you bend your elbow joint, bringing your forearm toward the inside of your upper arm. Two bicep muscles, your brachialis and biceps brachii, work with a muscle in your forearm to complete this motion. When you push up, you use your triceps to straighten your elbow joint. A pushup can put excessive force on your elbow joint. Avoid placing your hands in an internally rotated, or facing inward, position to avoid any potential injuries, according to the journal "Clinical Biomechanics."

Wrist Joint

Your wrist remains flexed or bent throughout the entire pushup, but it also goes through two additional movements. When you lower, your elbow moves out to the side, which makes your forearm bend out toward your pinkie finger. This is called ulnar deviation. When you push up, your elbow comes back in line with your shoulder. This moves your forearm back towards your thumb. This is called radial deviation. A variety of muscles located in your forearm and wrist are responsible for these movements.


If the traditional pushup position places too much stress on your shoulder joint, keep your fingers facing forward and your elbows close to your sides as you lower down. This shifts the emphasis from your chest muscles to your triceps, which can reduce stress in the shoulder joint, according to the American Council on Exercise. During the pushup, push through the outside and heel of your palm to increase the stability to your shoulder joint.

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