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How your muscular system works - Emma Bryce


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Each time you take a step, 200 muscles work in unison to lift your foot, propel it forward, and set it down. It’s just one of the many thousands of tasks performed by the muscular system: this network of over 650 muscles covers the body and is the reason we can blink, smile, run, jump, and stand upright. So how does it work? Emma Bryce takes you into the body to find out.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Every time we blink, take a walk, or lift something heavy, we have the muscular system to thank for enabling us to move. It’s such a big part of daily life, and so physically vast, that it helps to have an overview of how this system works. This page from the National Institutes of Health provides a useful guide to the muscular system and the muscles’ various roles. And this helpful interactive chart gives you a front and back view of human muscles, grouped by type.

Let’s zoom in and take a closer look at the different muscle types. Here, you can learn more about skeletal muscle, smooth muscle, and cardiac muscle individually. If you’re curious about the detailed structure of muscle fibers, this will tell you all you need to know. These sources will give you the details about the three main types of muscle motion, and what they help us to accomplish.

Complementary muscle--also known as antagonistic muscles--are very helpful for a number of reasons we barely even have to think about: this source explains why. That will give you insights into how we’re able to make some of the movements we do. That’s also true of slow and fast twitch fibers, which together allow us to make different kinds of movements as we go about our lives.

You might also be interested to learn more about the broader importance of the autonomous and somatic nervous systems, which both play a vital role in the muscular system’s function. Here you can also read about the fascinating array of smooth muscles and their function in the body: it’s not just the skeletal muscles that matter!

Finally, here’s an intriguing TED-Ed video that explains another important aspect of this subject: What makes muscles grow?

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