Bone and Muscle: Structure, Force, and Motion (The Human Body)

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For information on the interaction of the skeletal and muscular systems, that is, the musculoskeletal system, seek additional content. Bones also protect internal organs from injury by covering or surrounding them. For example, your ribs protect your lungs and heart, the bones of your vertebral column spine protect your spinal cord, and the bones of your cranium skull protect your brain Figure 2.

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Orthopedist An orthopedist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders and injuries related to the musculoskeletal system. Some orthopedic problems can be treated with medications, exercises, braces, and other devices, but others may be best treated with surgery Figure 3. In recent years, orthopedists have even performed prenatal surgery to correct spina bifida, a congenital defect in which the neural canal in the spine of the fetus fails to close completely during embryologic development.

Orthopedists commonly treat bone and joint injuries but they also treat other bone conditions including curvature of the spine.

Human Skeleton - Muscles

Lateral curvatures scoliosis can be severe enough to slip under the shoulder blade scapula forcing it up as a hump. Spinal curvatures can also be excessive dorsoventrally kyphosis causing a hunch back and thoracic compression. These curvatures often appear in preteens as the result of poor posture, abnormal growth, or indeterminate causes.

Aging changes in the bones - muscles - joints

Mostly, they are readily treated by orthopedists. As people age, accumulated spinal column injuries and diseases like osteoporosis can also lead to curvatures of the spine, hence the stooping you sometimes see in the elderly. Some orthopedists sub-specialize in sports medicine, which addresses both simple injuries, such as a sprained ankle, and complex injuries, such as a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder.

Treatment can range from exercise to surgery. On a metabolic level, bone tissue performs several critical functions. For one, the bone matrix acts as a reservoir for a number of minerals important to the functioning of the body, especially calcium, and phosphorus. These minerals, incorporated into bone tissue, can be released back into the bloodstream to maintain levels needed to support physiological processes.

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Calcium ions, for example, are essential for muscle contractions and controlling the flow of other ions involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Bone also serves as a site for fat storage and blood cell production. The softer connective tissue that fills the interior of most bone is referred to as bone marrow Figure 4. There are two types of bone marrow: yellow marrow and red marrow. Rotation is accomplished primarily by the sternocleidomastoid muscle, which bends the neck to the ipsilateral side and rotates the neck contralaterally.

Together, the sternocleidomastoid muscles on both sides of the neck act to flex the neck and raise the sternum to assist in forced inhalation. The anterior and middle scalene muscles, which also are located at the sides of the neck, act ipsilaterally to rotate the neck, as well as to elevate the first rib. The splenius capitis and splenius cervicis, which are located in the back of the neck, work to rotate the head. Side bending also is an important action of the cervical spine. The sternocleidomastoid muscles are involved in cervical side bending. The posterior scalene muscles, located on the lower sides of the neck, ipsilaterally bend the neck to the side and elevate the second rib.

The splenius capitis and splenius cervicis also assist in neck side bending. The erector spinae muscles iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis are large, deep muscles that extend the length of the back. All three act to ipsilaterally side bend the neck. Neck flexion refers to the motion used to touch the chin to the chest. It is accomplished primarily by the sternocleidomastoid muscles, with assistance from the longus colli and the longus capitis, which are found in the front of the neck.

Muscular and Skeletal Systems

Neck extension is the opposite of flexion and is accomplished by many of the same muscles that are used for other neck movements, including the splenius cervicis, splenius capitis, iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis muscles. The back contains the origins of many of the muscles that are involved in the movement of the neck and shoulders. In addition, the axial skeleton that runs vertically through the back protects the spinal cord , which innervates almost all the muscles in the body.

The muscles surrounding synovial joints are responsible for moving the body in space.

Science Teacher Resources from Baylor College of Medicine

These muscle actions are often paired, like flexion and extension or abduction and adduction. Below the common terms are listed and defined, with animations to help you picture the muscles and joints in motion.


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Flexion and extension are usually movements forward and backward from the body, such as nodding the head. The triceps brachii and anconeus are muscles that extend the elbow. The biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis flex the elbow. Abduction and adduction are usually side-to-side movements, such as moving the arm laterally when doing jumping jacks.

The gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, tensor fasciae latae, and sartorius are muscles that abduct the hip.

The pectineus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, and gracilis adduct the hip. Describing the rotation of the forearm back and forth requires special terms. Spread your fingers out and look at the palms of your hands and the fingers and then rotate your palms to look at your nails. Now look at your palms again. Elevation and depression are up-and-down movements, such as chewing or shrugging your shoulders.

By moving your jaw back and forth in a jutting motion, you are protracting and retracting your mandible. You invert your foot when you turn it inward to see what is stuck under your shoe.

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You evert your foot to put the sole of your shoe back on the floor. Dorsiflexion and plantar flexion You dorsiflex your feet to walk on your heels, and plantar flex them to tiptoe. While many muscles may be involved in any given action, muscle function terminology allows you to quickly understand the various roles different muscles play in each movement.