How do your bones move?
By the contraction and extension of your skeletal muscles. Notice how the muscles are attached to the bones. The muscles pull on the bones, causing movement.
There are well over 600 skeletal muscles in the human body, some of which are identified in
. Skeletal muscles vary considerably in size, from tiny muscles inside the middle ear to very large muscles in the upper leg.
Skeletal Muscles. Skeletal muscles enable the body to move.
Structure of Skeletal Muscles
Each skeletal muscle consists of hundreds or even thousands of skeletal
. The fibers are bundled together and wrapped in connective tissue, as shown
. The connective tissue supports and protects the delicate muscle cells and allows them to withstand the forces of contraction. It also provides pathways for nerves and blood vessels to reach the muscles. Skeletal muscles work hard to move body parts. They need a rich blood supply to provide them with nutrients and oxygen and to carry away their wastes.
You can watch a video about skeletal muscle structure and how skeletal muscles work at the link below.
Skeletal Muscle Structure. A skeletal muscle contains bundles of muscle fibers inside a “coat” of connective tissue.
"The Anatomy of a Muscle Cell" is available at
Skeletal Muscles and Bones
Skeletal muscles are attached to the skeleton by tough connective tissues called
). Many skeletal muscles are attached to the ends of bones that meet at a
. The muscles span the joint and connect the bones. When the muscles contract, they pull on the bones, causing them to move.
You can watch a video showing how muscles and bones move together at this link:
Muscles can only contract. They cannot actively extend, or lengthen. Therefore, to move bones in opposite directions, pairs of muscles must work in opposition. For example, the biceps and triceps muscles of the upper arm work in opposition to bend and extend the arm at the elbow (see
You can watch an animation of these two muscles working in opposition at the link below. What other body movements do you think require opposing muscle pairs?
Triceps and biceps muscles in the upper arm are opposing muscles.
Use It or Lose It
In exercises such as weight lifting, skeletal muscle contracts against a resisting force (see
). Using skeletal muscle in this way increases its size and strength. In exercises such as running, the cardiac muscle contracts faster and the heart pumps more blood. Using cardiac muscle in this way increases its strength and efficiency. Continued exercise is necessary to maintain bigger, stronger muscles. If you don’t use a muscle, it will get smaller and weaker—so use it or lose it.
This exercise pits human muscles against a force. What force is it?
Skeletal muscles are attached to the skeleton and cause bones to move when they contract.
Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.
Define skeletal muscle.
Describe skeletal muscle structure.
Define the sarcomere and Z-line.
1. What is the function of skeletal muscle?
2. How are skeletal muscles attached to bones?
3. Explain why many skeletal muscles must work in opposing pairs.