All About Muscles
All the movements we make, consciously or unconsciously, are made possible by our muscles. The heaving of the chest as we breathe in and out, the blinking of our eyes and the fact that we can walk up the stairs. All this is the work of our muscles. Almost half of our body is made up of muscle tissue. We have over 400 muscles. These are located almost everywhere: in the skin, eyes and deeper into the body. The heart, one of our indispensable organs, is actually a muscle. It is the most important muscle in the body.
There are various types of muscle tissues:
- Skeletal muscle: are attached to the bones. Because of the contraction and relaxation of these muscles, we are able to move. Whether it is walking, running or raising eyebrows; these movements are made possible by the skeletal muscles. Additionally, the skeletal muscles are responsible for our posture and the stability in our joints.
- Smooth muscle: is responsible for movement of hollow organs, blood and lymph vessels. The sphincters also originate from smooth muscle. The sphincter muscles ensure that substances cannot simply get in or get out of the hollow organs. For example: urine cannot simply leave the bladder. Therefor the sphincter in the urethra needs to relax first and the smooth muscle of the bladder must contract.
- Heart muscle: located exclusively in the heart. Heart muscle ensures that the blood is continuously pumped around. This muscle does, therefore, not tire, whilst other muscles do.
The strongest muscle: gluteal muscle, masseter muscle or tongue?
If you look at the size and the amount of force that can be exerted on bone, the gluteus maximus is the strongest muscle in our body. It runs from the pelvis to the femur and makes sure that the upper leg extends at the hip joint and can move away from the body, like when you are walking. Additionally, the gluteal muscle ensures the stability in the lower back and we use it when we go from a seated position to a standing position.
If you look at the amount of force a muscle can exert on an external object, then the strongest would be the masseter muscle. Yet this is not pure muscle. During the movement of the jaw, the leverage effect also plays an important role, so that additional power can be supplied.
The tongue is often mentioned as the strongest muscle in our body, but this is actually incorrect. The tongue is not one muscle, but a collection of muscles.
How do muscles work?
Muscle tissue has only one function: to contract and to relax. Movement is possible because of these contractions. When a muscle contracts, it becomes shorter and thereby exerts tensile force. If the biceps – the muscle in your upper arm – contracts, this creates a pull on your forearm and brings it back up. When the biceps relaxes again, the tension decreases and your forearm goes back down. Many muscles in our body work in pairs. When your biceps contract, your triceps, the muscle at the back of your upper arm, relaxes simultaneously. And conversely, when the biceps relax again, your triceps contract. Together these muscles make sure you can move your arm up and down.
A bit of knowledge
Did you know that muscles can also produce heat? Heat occurs when muscles contract. This is the reason you will shiver when you are cold. This way your muscles are trying to produce extra heat.
Stiff muscles and muscle pain
If you strain your muscles heavily or incorrectly they can become stiff and rigid. It is a kind of warning from your body that you need to change your attitude and your muscles have to be strained in a different way. If you do not, an injury may occur.
Muscle pain goes a step further. This is the result of an overload of the muscles. This creates an accumulation of waste, including lactic acid. This will give you pain and cramps in your muscles. Muscle pain usually disappears within a few days. You can help your recovery by stopping the overload and do stretching exercises so that your muscles relax again. A good massage can also help against muscle pain. This promotes blood circulation so that the waste can be disposed of quickly.
How to prevent muscle pain?
In many cases, muscle pain can be prevented. We would like to give you the following tips:
- If you exercise, always start with a good warm up to warm the muscles.
- Do post-exercise cool down so that waste can be evacuated from your muscles.
- Exercise regularly, build up the intensity and prevent overloading due to incorrect posture or excessive burden.
- Take frequent hot baths or a massage to promote blood circulation in the muscles.
Visible Body UK, Healthline, Pouted.com, Innerbody.com