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How We Move: The Gross Anatomy of Motion

Discover the structures and systems of human locomotion as you explore the gross anatomy of movement with guidance from an award-winning professor.

How We Move: The Gross Anatomy of Motion is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 40.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Names and Memorization This is a very good anatomy course. I'd love to see it split into two courses, one on the upper body and one on the lower body. What I'd like is more explanation of function rather than just "point and name". It's a bewildering overload of names for nerves, muscles, bones and ligaments (even for someone who has previously studied other anatomy courses). Much more valuable would be to tie this into everyday life for the non-MD. Most of us aren't going to be doing surgery, but we'd like to understand what might get injured when we hurt ourselves and how we can best rehabilitate or even better how we can care for ourselves (exercise) to prevent injury and maintain function throughout our lives. Professor Murray gives some little tidbits like what is most important for stabilizing the knee, but instead of one sentence I'd love to hear five minutes of discussion on this!
Date published: 2024-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow. Learned SO much. I started watching this on a whim and ended up glued to the screen, watching a few of the lectures twice just because they were so interesting to me and Dr. Murray's approach was so engaging. Immediately after finishing this course, I started her Forensics GC. My only disappointment is that the course didn't include the "non-motion" anatomy and physiology. Then again, I'm not sure how many people would commit to a highly technical course of the 70-80+ lectures it would have taken to cover so much. Please consider having Dr. Murray present a companion series on the organs and other "non-moving" parts of the human body.
Date published: 2023-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Detailed Course Dr Murray presents a very detailed course on the anatomy involved with human motion. If you are not familiar with the nomenclature associated with the bones, nerves, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments of the body you have to really stay alert. This course could be taken many times to learn the detail.
Date published: 2023-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good and a lot of effort has been put into it Very good and a lot of effort has been put into it with the digital body being a great teaching tool for us ............
Date published: 2023-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderfully detailed, but missed "the big picture" I agree with the majority of viewers that the instructor is clearly experienced, engaging and knowledgeable. This course is far more detailed than the anatomy course I had in nursing school (and certainly more detailed than I ever needed in my nursing career). Dr Murray's manner of instruction, the visual aids and the amazing Anatomage table made the "density" of the content understandable and enjoyable (although I'm glad I wasn't being tested!). However, I missed seeing how the muscles, bones, connective tissue, nervous system and blood vessels work together in such activities as walking, jogging, using the stairs, climbing a cliff, etc. - perhaps in slow motion - so we could envision how all of our anatomy gives us the ability to move though the day.
Date published: 2023-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A USER'S MANUAL FOR THE HUMAN BODY Prof. Murray has a very hands-on approach to anatomy. She spent plenty of time as a forensic coroner and must have seen the results of very bad human behavior. Nevertheless, she doesn't seem at all jaded. She approaches the human body as an exquisite set of related puzzles. Fortunately for those of us interested in anatomy, there was a convict who donated his body to science. It was used as a template for a fascinating device, the Anatomage VIRTUAL dissecting table. In the two Anatomage lectures she peels away layer after layer of the body. This is something that couldn't have even been conceived of three centuries earlier in Scotland's Medical School in which they occasionally relied on body snatchers for anatomy classes! I personally found the explanation of fascia, especially of the leg quite interesting, since fascia adhesions can have a huge effect on mobility as we age. The distinctions of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage were helpful. The mechanical explanations of joints was fascinating: pivot, hinge, saddle, ball-and-socket and planar. The bundling of nerves, and how they pass through tunnels in the bone-- particularly in the brachial plexis in the neck area is nothing short of astonishing. The picture of the relatively huge sciatic nerve gave me a visual reference for the nature of sciatic pain, which can travel to different locations in the leg. Though I am a complete novice in anatomy and will certainly never learn the names and functions of the systems covered in this course, I found it very valuable.
Date published: 2023-05-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Appropriate for Physical Therapists - but not me.. A muscle-by-muscle-by-bone description of the human body, describing the function of each. For me, too much detail (of each single component) and not enough explaining the whole system.
Date published: 2023-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Well done Professor Murray, one of the few teachers in the Great Courses library that encompass the skills needed for teaching. Definitely will take a second look. The Human Body, amazing.
Date published: 2023-02-14
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In How We Move: The Gross Anatomy of Motion, you’ll look inside the human body as never before, discovering your gross anatomy, the parts of the body that can be seen with the unaided eye, your macroscopic body. You will view graphics, photos, videos, and the digital autopsy table called “Anatomage,” to help your understanding of the topics covered. Professor Elizabeth A. Murray takes you on a 24-lecture journey through the major regions of the body in all their complex grandeur. It’s safe to say that you’ve never seen anything like this!


Elizabeth A. Murray

With nearly 30 years in the field, I guess I was 'forensic' before it was cool! I find forensic science to be a fascinating subject that incorporates law, ethics, psychology, history, and technology, as it aids our global community.


Mount St. Joseph University

Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray is a forensic anthropologist and also Professor of Biology at Mount St. Joseph University, where she teaches doctoral-level human gross anatomy and undergraduate-level anatomy and physiology, as well as forensic science. She earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Mount St. Joseph University and her master's degree in anthropology and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Biology from the University of Cincinnati.

Most of Professor Murray's forensic casework has been in Ohio and Kentucky, where she has participated in hundreds of investigations. She is one of fewer than 100 anthropologists certified as a Diplomate by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. Professor Murray has been honored with the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award, and she twice earned the Clifford Excellence in Teaching Award. She has served as an instructor for numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and the International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners. Her television appearances include National Geographic's Buried Secrets, Discovery Health's Skeleton Stories, The New Detectives, and Forensic Files. Her book Death: Corpses, Cadavers, and Other Grave Matters was named one of the top ten summer titles for students by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her 2012 book, Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death, was selected as one of the outstanding books of 2012 by the prestigious National Science Teacher's Association.

By This Professor

True Crime: Decoding the Evidence
How We Move: The Gross Anatomy of Motion
Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals
Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works
How We Move: The Gross Anatomy of Motion


The Essential Language of Anatomy

01: The Essential Language of Anatomy

Welcome to the unique language of the body, where you’ll learn the words that anatomists use to identify body parts, in both precise and relative terms. Starting from the standard anatomical position, you’ll learn the vocabulary of directionality within the body and the history of its standardization over the centuries.

34 min
Bones as the Body’s Framework of Movement

02: Bones as the Body’s Framework of Movement

Begin to explore the fascinating skeleton of the human body, the bones of the leverage systems that cause our movements. But did bones evolve for the purpose of moving an organism along? Or might bones have evolved as a response to a completely different need—One you might never have considered?

31 min
Joints: Structure Determines Function

03: Joints: Structure Determines Function

When we consider our anatomical joints, we usually think of movement—the elbow, knee, wrist, etc. But as you’ll discover, our bodies contain many joints that provide only limited movement, and some that do not move at all. As you learn about the ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bursae that keep us moving, you’ll also discover why some of our joints are only temporary.

33 min
The Terminology of Movement Patterns

04: The Terminology of Movement Patterns

Explore the six categories of our freely movable synovial joints, the fulcrums of our bodies’ leverage systems. Using a variety of graphic aids, you’ll visualize the joints—from those that allow flat surfaces to simply glide over each other to the ball-and-socket joints that allow movement through all three dimensions.

31 min
Muscles as Systems for Motion and Support

05: Muscles as Systems for Motion and Support

Explore the three types of muscle tissue that move our bodies, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Learn the major functions of skeletal muscle, which not only moves our skeletal system, also keeps it still and stable, provides as much as 85% of our normal body heat, and regulates glycemic control.

30 min
The Role of the Nervous System in Movement

06: The Role of the Nervous System in Movement

Begin to examine two of the primary divisions of the nervous system, the central and peripheral. Learn about the cranial nerves that govern functions in the head and neck and the spinal nerves that control skeletal muscles and receive sensations from the trunk and limbs.

30 min
The Spine: Fundamentals of the Body’s Axis

07: The Spine: Fundamentals of the Body’s Axis

The body’s axial skeleton consists of the skull, ribs, sternum, spine, and one of the most unusual bones of the body—the hyoid. Look closely at the spine and the bones that support the overall structure of the body and consider the ways such an important system can be affected by pain and injury.

31 min
The Skeleton of the Head and Torso

08: The Skeleton of the Head and Torso

When we think of our body’s joints, we tend to imagine our most mobile joints—the elbow or shoulder for example. But our skull has 22 bones, all united by joints. Learn about these synarthrotic suture joints and the subtle differences between male and female skulls. Examine the sternum, consider the formation of the ribcage, and learn the difference between true and false ribs.

30 min
The Many Muscles of the Head and Neck

09: The Many Muscles of the Head and Neck

Discover the fascinating musculature of the face, muscles we rarely think about, but which allow us to communicate our most subtle emotions. Learn about muscles of the neck that direct our head movements. Examine the functions of some of our 12 pairs of cranial nerves and how they relate to muscles and sensations of the head and neck.

30 min
Back Muscles: Layering and Movements

10: Back Muscles: Layering and Movements

Explore the muscles of the back in all their layered complexity. Learn which muscles “live” on the back but are actually muscles of the upper limbs, which stabilize and move the spine. And learn which paper-thin muscles aid in respiration … or do they?

32 min
Torso Muscles: Thoracic, Abdominal, and Pelvic

11: Torso Muscles: Thoracic, Abdominal, and Pelvic

Explore the musculature of the torso—the thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic muscles, which aid bodily functions like breathing. Learn about the fascinating properties of the respiratory diaphragm, the only skeletal muscle that is both voluntary and programmed for rhythmic contraction and relaxation.

33 min
Digital Cadaver Lesson: Head, Neck, and Torso

12: Digital Cadaver Lesson: Head, Neck, and Torso

While scientists have been examining cadavers for at least the past two millennia, anatomists today have the extraordinary tool of “Anatomage,” often called a digital autopsy table. Learn how this tool came about as you explore the bones and muscles of the spine, head, and torso—removing one layer at a time, to see what lies beneath.

32 min
The Brachial Plexus of the Upper Limb

13: The Brachial Plexus of the Upper Limb

Examine the brachial plexus, the network of nerves that relays signals from the spinal cord to the upper limb and that takes almost all sensations of that region to the central nervous system for processing. More complex than any other plexus of the somatic nervous system, its work is integral to our day-to-day living.

31 min
The Shoulder: Mobility versus Stability

14: The Shoulder: Mobility versus Stability

Explore the strengths and weaknesses of the human shoulder and the relationship of that joint to the anatomy of past primates who spent their lives swinging in the trees. Learn about the many bones and muscles that make up this complex and most mobile joint, and some of the ways in which it’s commonly injured.

32 min
Shoulder to Elbow: The Anatomical Arm

15: Shoulder to Elbow: The Anatomical Arm

Explore the bones, muscles, and ligaments of the elbow, a complex region actually made up of three separate joints. Learn about the fascia of the arm and the cutaneous veins that provide the extra blood you can access in an emergency—whether encountering a predator or starting up your workout.

32 min
The Complexity of the Forearm and Wrist

16: The Complexity of the Forearm and Wrist

Learn about our nearly 20 forearm muscles that cause wrist and finger movements, as well as the remarkable actions of our thumb. The ability to oppose the thumb with other digits in a grasping motion is one of the hallmarks of our primate lineage. The forearm is also home to muscles that allow us to turn our palms to face up or down, an action which actually occurs at the elbow.

34 min
The Hand and How It Works

17: The Hand and How It Works

Explore the architecture of the human hand, one of the most significant anatomical features that separates us from almost all other animal life. It’s that fine motor coordination along with our bipedalism that has allowed us to become the species we are today. You’ll also learn about the source of carpal tunnel pain and how surgery may help relieve it.

32 min
Digital Cadaver Lesson: The Upper Limb

18: Digital Cadaver Lesson: The Upper Limb

Using “Anatomage” digital technology with the ability to see beneath the skin, you’ll examine the 30 bones of the upper extremity, as well as the intricacy of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand joints. You’ll also be able to visualize the muscles of the shoulder, including the group known as the rotator cuff, in addition to the many other muscles of the arm, forearm, and hand.

23 min
Nerve Plexuses of the Lower Limb

19: Nerve Plexuses of the Lower Limb

Explore the lumbar and sacral plexuses, those networks of interconnected nerves that control the muscles of the lower extremity and pelvic floor and that relay sensations from the lower limbs and genitalia. As part of the sacral plexus, you’ll learn about the sciatic nerve, the largest and longest nerve in the body.

33 min
The Multiplex Pelvis and Its Hip Joint

20: The Multiplex Pelvis and Its Hip Joint

While the childhood hip bones are three separate bony elements with cartilaginous growth regions, the three regions are united into one single bone once the cartilage has ossified. The pelvis is a complex of the two hip bones as well as the sacrum and coccyx. Explore the multi-axial hip joints and the pelvis, where differences between the female and male skeleton are most obvious.

32 min
The Thigh: Our Largest Bone and Its Muscles

21: The Thigh: Our Largest Bone and Its Muscles

Continue your examination of the lower limbs with the femur, the body’s largest and strongest bone. You’ll learn about the muscles of the thigh and visualize their origins and insertions. Explore the quads and hamstring muscles and how they work to provide hip and knee mobility, and learn about the patella, your kneecap.

32 min
Knee to Ankle: The Anatomical Leg

22: Knee to Ankle: The Anatomical Leg

Continue the exploration of the knee joint, one of the most complex joints in the body. Examine the multiple bones and ligaments that allow for both movement of this hinge joint as well as stability. Learn about the ACL and why a tear in the meniscus takes so long to heal. Get to know the three muscle compartments that lie between the knee and ankle.

34 min
The Features of Our Complicated Feet

23: The Features of Our Complicated Feet

Although we think of our hands as being the most intricate and complex parts of our limbs, our feet have a few more intrinsic muscles than our hands. Explore the complexities of the bones, muscles, and tendons within the feet—which support not only our own weight, but also anything we pick up to carry.

32 min
Digital Cadaver Lesson: The Lower Limb

24: Digital Cadaver Lesson: The Lower Limb

The complex musculature of the feet is easy to visualize with the “Anatomage” digital system; so are the muscles of the hip, thigh, and leg. You’ll see the muscles peeled back, layer by thin layer, and you’ll develop a better understanding of the role played by ligaments in stabilizing these “pedestals.” You’ll also explore the bones and joints of the lower limb from numerous angles.

29 min