Do You Know Your Muscular System?
Have you ever felt sore from exercise but had no idea what muscle was actually hurting? Or wondered what makes you capable of movement, digestion, and basic living? The answer to both those questions lies in your muscular system. Your body is an incredible network that’s only able to function because of the at least 850 muscles it contains. These muscles help you with everything from digesting food and lifting heavy objects to holding your cat in place for some well-deserved cuddles.
So how are these muscles constructed, and why is it so important to know what they each entail?
The Muscular System
Having strong muscles is about more than being bikini body ready. Your muscles play a major role in practically every aspect of your health, and they enable your body to function properly on a day-to-day basis. Having a proper understanding of even the basics of your muscular system can give you insights into symptoms of illnesses, weight maintenance, flexibility, and much more.
There are three muscle types within the human body. The first, visceral muscle, is also known as a smooth muscle because of its smooth appearance when examined under a microscope. These muscles are located inside hollow internal organs like the intestines, blood vessels, stomach, and uterus.
The second group of muscles your body possesses is found within the walls of your heart. These muscles, called cardiac muscles, are responsible for circulating blood and nutrients throughout the body. The final muscle type is skeletal muscle. This group, as the name suggests, is attached to the skeleton and is responsible for any and all movements you make throughout the day.
No matter what activity you engage in, the 3 muscle groups help you do it.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of how they each work to form the seamless system you call your body.
Like we mentioned earlier, visceral muscle is located within internal organs like your intestines. It is the weakest of all three groups, but the contraction of these muscles plays a vital role in your ability to digest food and expel waste. This is because visceral muscle contracts organs to move substances through the body.
Unlike skeletal muscles, which can be directly controlled with the conscious mind, visceral muscle is involuntary. This means it is controlled by the unconscious part of the brain. Smooth muscles contract slowly and rhythmically, and they are embedded within a dense connective tissue matrix.
Unlike the other muscle types, cardiac muscle is only located in one place within the body: your heart. Also called Myocardium, this muscle group helps blood and nutrients reach every inch of your body. And unlike your brain when you take a test or talk to your crush, these muscles never stop working.
Like with visceral muscle, cardiac muscle contraction is also involuntary. Unlike visceral muscle, however, the cells of the myocardium are striated, meaning they are made up of light and dark stripes when examined under a microscope.
The final and likely most familiar group in the muscular system is skeletal muscle. Of the at least 850 muscles contained within humans, more than 600 are skeletal. These muscles make up about 40% of your body weight, and they help with posture, balance, and the shape of your body.
Each muscle derives its name from a variety of factors, including size, shape, and location. If you want to learn the names of various skeletal muscles, a great method is to keep their unique characteristics in mind. This is because each name describes at least one feature of the muscle in question.
Skeletal muscle is unique in that it is the only group that can contract both consciously and unconsciously, as in the case of a midnight charlie horse or that annoying eye twitches you get due to lack of sleep. An interesting fact about skeletal muscle is that it is also responsible for generating body heat. This is a result of the high metabolic rate of these muscles as they contract.
This muscle group is also unique in the number of nuclei each cell, also known as muscle fiber, contains. Whereas most cells within the body contain only one nucleus, muscle fibers are shaped like elongated rods and can contain as many as 100 nuclei. They are also different in that muscle fibers can extend the entire length of a muscle, whereas other body cells cannot.
The Muscular Breakdown
So there you have it – a breakdown of the vast number of muscles that make up your body. Did you learn anything new? Think you have what it takes to become a muscular system master? Try out this muscular system quiz to test your grasp of what we’ve gone over and expanded your knowledge of the human body even more.
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