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MUSCLES AND WHAT THEY DO

Bones don't work alone — they need help from the muscles and joints. Muscles pull on the joints, allowing us to move. They also help your body perform other functions so you can grow and remain strong, such as chewing food and then moving it through the digestive system.

The human body has more than 650 muscles, which make up half of a person's body weight. They are connected to bones by tough, cord-like tissues called tendons, which allow the muscles to pull on bones.

Humans have three different kinds of muscle: Skeletal muscle is attached to bone, mostly in the legs, arms, abdomen, chest, neck, and face. Skeletal muscles are called striated because they are made up of fibers' that have horizontal stripes when viewed under a microscope. These muscles hold the skeleton together, give the body shape, and help it with everyday movements (known as voluntary muscles because you can control their movement). They can contract2 (shorten or tighten) quickly and powerfully, but they tire easily and have to rest between workouts.

Smooth3, or involuntary, muscle is also made of fibers, but this type of muscle looks smooth, not striated. General­ly, we can't consciously control our smooth muscles; rather, they're controlled by the nervous system automatically (which is why they're also called involuntary). Examples of smooth muscles are the walls of the stomach and intestines, which help break up food and move it through the diges­tive system. Smooth muscle is also found in the walls of blood vessels, where it squeezes the stream of blood flowing through the vessels to help maintain blood pressure. Smooth muscles take longer to contract than skeletal muscles do, but they can stay contracted for a long time because they don't tire easily.

Cardiac muscle is found in the heart. The walls of the heart's chambers are composed almost entirely of muscle fi­bers. Cardiac muscle is also an involuntary type of muscle. Its rhythmic, powerful contractions force blood out of the heart as it beats.

Even when you sit perfectly still, muscles throughout your body are constantly moving. Muscles enable your heart to beat, your chest to rise and fall as you breathe, and your blood ves­sels to help regulate the pressure and flow of blood through your body. When we smile and talk, muscles are helping us communicate, and when we exercise, they help us stay physically fit and healthy.

The movements your muscles make are coordinated and controlled by the brain and nervous system. The involuntary muscles are controlled by structures deep within the brain and the upper part of the spinal cord called the brain stem. The voluntary muscles are regulated by the parts of the brain known as the cerebral motor cortex and the cerebellum.

 


Date: 2015-04-20; view: 912


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