11 Main Functions of the Muscular System | HEALTH
In the first part of this series, we discussed the different types of muscles in the human body and their corresponding functions. Today’ we’re going to learn more about the main functions of the entire human muscular system.
Why do we have muscles anyway? You may think that their only function is to make you look huge, masculine, or sexy, think again. Muscles in our body have many functions. Let’s find out what they are.
The main function of the muscular system is to allow movement. When your muscles contract, they cause movement. They contribute to and are called fine and gross movements. Fine movement involves smaller movements, which are caused by smaller skeletal muscles, including:
- - facial expressions
- - speaking
- - writing
Gross movement meanwhile, refers to large, coordinated motions such as:
- - swimming
- - running
- - walking
While many of these muscle movements of the body are under your conscious control, there are also some movements that are reflexive. Such movements are created as your body responses to something that just happened, for example – withdrawing your hand after touching something that is very hot.
Strong, flexible skeletal muscles help keep your body in correct position when you’re standing or sitting. Weak, tight, or stiff muscles contribute to poor posture that may lead to misalignment of your body. If you practice bad posture long-term, this will cause joint and muscle pain in the shoulders, back, neck, and elsewhere.
Muscle tendons stretch over joints, especially in the knee and shoulder joints, and contribute to joint stability. The core muscles, such as those in the pelvis, abdomen, and back, also stabilize the body. Body stabilization is important because it allows you to perform tasks such as pushing or pulling something heavy, and lifting weights.
When you breathe, you use your diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle located below the lungs. It contracts during breathing, pushing downward to enable your chest cavity to get bigger, allowing air to fill your lungs. It then pushes air out of the lungs when it relaxes. If you want to breathe more deeply, muscles in your abdomen, back, and neck, help in.
The heart is actually a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body. Your veins and arteries also have smooth muscles that play a further role in blood circulation. These muscles can also maintain circulation and blood pressure if you experience dehydration or blood loss. When your body requires more oxygen during intense exercise, they can also expand to increase blood flow.
The muscular system allows movement within the body, for example, during urination or digestion. During urination, muscles must work together with the nerves to release and hold urine from the bladder.
The urinary system is comprised of both skeletal and smooth muscles, including those in the:
- - kidneys
- - prostate
- - urethra
- - bladder
- - vagina or penis
- - ureters
Retention of urine, poor bladder control, and other urinary problems are caused by damage to the nerves that carry signals to the muscles.
Digestion is controlled by smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which stretches from the mouth to the anus. Through a wave-like motion, called peristalsis, food moves through the esophagus into the stomach. The movement is caused by the contraction and relaxation of the muscles in the walls of the hollow organs.
Food enters the stomach as the upper muscles inside relaxes. Food particles are then mixed with enzymes and stomach acid by lower muscles in the stomach.
Movements of the eyes are controlled by 6 skeletal muscles that work quickly and precisely. They allow the eyes to:
- - track moving objects
- - scan the surrounding area
- - maintain a stable image
Your vision can be impaired if you’ll experience damage to your eye muscles.
The uterus has smooth muscles that expand and contract during childbirth. The movements produced by these muscled push the baby through the vagina. There are also muscles on the pelvic floor that help guide the baby's head down the birth canal.
10. Temperature regulation
One of the most important functions of the muscular system is to maintain normal body temperature. Nearly 85% of the heat your body generates comes from muscle contraction. When your body heat becomes low, your skeletal muscles increase its activity to make heat. One of the examples of this mechanism is shivering, that’s why you involuntarily shake when you’re cold.
There are also muscles in the blood vessels that contract so your body can maintain its temperature. If you’re cold, smooth muscles in the blood vessels relax to increase blood flow and bring back body heat within normal range. Don’t worry, you won’t overheat. Any excess heat is released through the skin.
11. Organ protection
Your internal organs are protected at the front, sides, and back by muscles in the torso. The bones of the ribs and the spine provide further protection. Speaking bones, they are also protected by your muscles by reducing friction in the joints and absorbing shock.
Stay tuned for part three of this article!
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