Muscles (from the Latin  musculus) , corresponds to a group of organs made up of contractile fibers or muscle fibers , related to the skeleton or skeletal muscles .

These are made up of cells called myocytes. These have the peculiarity of enlarging or reducing them when they are stimulated by electrical shocks that originate in the nervous system.

Muscles play a very important role within the body, since with their help, the entire locomotor system is put into motion. Thanks to them we can walk, run, stand and even help us breathe, process food and move the most important organ of the human body, such as the heart.

What is the function of muscles?

The importance of muscles lies in:

  • They are responsible for performing important physiological functions, such as breathing, digestion, circulation, including defecation, etc.
  • They help the advance of blood through the body, as it keeps the blood vessels moving.
  • They provide a fixed position on the body when the body is in a static position, for example, they maintain the position of a person when sitting or standing.
  • They facilitate the movement of the body in space. Thanks to this function we can move freely when walking, jumping, running.
  • They store caloric energy when performing strong exercises, that is, they are a source of heat, which protects internal organs and bones.

What are the types of muscles?

The human body has more than 640 muscles and their functions vary according to the type of muscle tissue to which they belong. Between them we have:

  • Striated or skeletal muscles : They are those that receive signals from the nervous system to generate body movements. They generate heat, apart from being the support of the skeleton, since they help maintain posture.
  • Smooth muscles : They are involuntary muscles and are made up of layers one on top of the other. Unlike striated muscles, they must wait for the nervous system to give the signal to put them to work without us thinking about it. For example, these types of muscles help push food.
  • Cardiac muscles: They are responsible for the functioning of the heart and its beats. They are essential for the proper functioning of the bloodstream. The muscle of cardiac function called myocardium, responds to completely involuntary incentives and retracts automatically, that is, it does not need the signal from the nervous system for its operation.

What are the parts of the muscle?

Muscle tissue has tens of thousands of fibers and each muscle in the human body is made up of those small fibers that are located in bundle shapes, which in turn are embedded in layers that expand to form tendons. The parts of the muscle are divided into:

  • It is made up of a layer of tissues that surround the muscle.
  • It is the fascicle that is located near the fiber and separates it from another.
  • Muscular body or belly. It is the central part of the muscle. It is made up of numerous muscle fibers that are in turn surrounded by layers of connective tissue.
  • It is a connective tissue that surrounds bundles of fibers known as fascicles.
  • Tendon. The tendon is a very hard connective tissue filament and it is the one that connects the muscles with the bone. The tendon uses a piece of muscle to entwine it with the muscle belly. Tendons provide the muscular force to produce movements in the body.
  • They are membranes found in flat muscles and facilitate insertion.
  • Retinaculum They are the fibrous elements that surround the tendons and keep them attached.
  • It is the structure that is made up of fibrous tissues. The composition of ligaments is very similar to that of tendons. The ligaments have the function of stabilizing and binding the bone fragments that are part of the joint.
  • Proteins and nitrogenous compounds. This is where the sarcoplasm protein and myoglobin are found, which is equivalent to the hemoglobin in the blood and functions as an oxygen carrier.
  • Synovial bags. They are made up of synovial fluid. These surround some tendons and their function is to prevent them from hitting hard surfaces.
  • Inorganic compounds. In these compounds are inorganic salts, such as sodium, which is related to muscle contraction and excitability. Potassium and potassium ions that cause muscle fatigue are also found in these organic compounds. The calcium ion and phosphorus are also part of this muscle group.
  • Lipids These group the fat contained in muscle tissue and vary according to the diet of each person.
  • Water makes up about 3/4 of all muscle weight.

Classification of muscles

The muscles have different sizes and shapes, this allows us the various movements of the body. According to these characteristics, muscles are classified into:

Short : They are short regardless of their shape. Among them are those of the face and head.

Long : they are long, narrow and of great power. These in turn are spindle-shaped or flat, depending on the transverse diameter they are larger in the middle than at the ends. For example, the rectus abdominis muscle is long and flattened, while the biceps is long and spindle-shaped.

Widths : they are those that have the same length throughout their diameter. They are thin and flattened. An example of these muscles is the latissimus dorsi of the back.

Orbicular : They have a circular shape and are located in the structure of the mouth and eyelids.

The muscles of the extremities are classified according to the function they perform, and these can be:

Extenders : allow the limbs to be extended. For example, stretch the leg over the thigh.

Flexors : are those that allow the limbs to bend. They are used to bend the arm over the forearm.

Supinators : these are muscles that allow us to bend the limbs outwards.

Pronators : with them we can turn the limbs inward.

Abductors : they are those that allow us to raise our arms to the sides. They are responsible for separating the extremities from the central axis of the body.

Adductors : with these we can carry out the action of bringing the limbs to the central axis of the body.

What are the most important muscles in the body?

The main muscles of the body are classified as follows:

Main muscles of the lower body

In this muscle group are the quadriceps, the biceps femoris, as well as the calves, buttocks and abductors. Your mission is to activate your knees, to jump, walk, run or crouch.

Main muscles of the front upper body

The most relevant of this group are the pectoral, shoulder and abdominal muscles. These provide body balance. The delts and traps also belong to this group and are relevant to exercise the movement of the shoulders and arms.

Brachial muscles

In this muscle group, the biceps are the most important, but in parallel, there are also the triceps and forearms.

Main muscles of the upper back

The lats are the main ones in this muscle category, although the rhomboid is important to give strength and stability in the middle part of the back. In the lower area, the lumbar muscles are of vital importance, since they are one of the muscles that support the most tension.

Facial muscles

The face has innumerable muscles, for example, the buccinator that enlarges the diameter of the mouth influencing actions such as eating, speaking, smiling and blowing. Another very important is the orbicularis, this muscle allows us to open and close our eyes, it is also what makes us wear a natural smile.

What are muscle diseases?

Muscle injuries and diseases must also be cared for in order to lead a healthy life. Among them we can mention the following:

  • Tears: are injuries that occur in the muscle due to improper movement due to excessive muscular effort.
  • Muscular dystrophies: they are congenital conditions, which are producing a progressive deterioration of the muscle fiber. This disease usually manifests itself at an early age. There are no specific treatments to stop the progress of the disease, but there are to lead a better quality of life.
  • Myositis ossificans: It is a rare hereditary condition, which leads to the muscle being gradually replaced by bone tissue.
  • Myasthenia gravis: This disease causes muscle degeneration usually presents itself in adult life.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis : this condition is neurodegenerative that damages motor neurons and little by little the muscle loses its ability to move.
  • Cerebral palsy: a condition that occurs because central motor neurons are injured in the perinatal period.
  • Tendinitis: It is produced by inappropriate and repetitive movements that cause the tendon to swell.
  • Poliomyelitis: is a virus that attacks the spinal cord and causes atrophy, or muscle paralysis. It is important to note that this condition can be avoided with the respective vaccination.

Exercises to strengthen muscles

Exercises help improve health and physical appearance. There are three main types of exercises that should be included in our daily life, and they are:

  • Movement and amplitude exercises: they are dynamic and flexible. They help to improve diseases such as arthritis.
  • Resistance exercises: help to tone the body, apart from combining strength with cardiovascular capacity.
  • Strengthening exercises: help prevent injury, maintain muscle fiber, and are excellent for physical health.

Conclusion about muscles.

Food and exercise have a significant influence on muscle development, which is why it is vitally important to maintain a balanced diet and hydrate our muscles by ingesting plenty of fluids.

Muscles are the tissues that need the greatest amount of energy, within the body, apart from being the greatest source of heat for the human body. They together with the central nervous system are what allow us to move our body, to carry out the activities that we perform daily.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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