Being a fitness trainer & fitness therapist over many years – one of the most obvious concerns is that most people know very little about human anatomy. There has been a significant pattern in the majority of questions I’m asked – that pattern reveals that there is a need for a basic understanding of how we function - our anatomy. And to help you with that understanding, over the coming weeks we’ll cover our body’s amazing structure, so get ready for Human Anatomy 101.
Over the next series of columns we’ll review the human skeleton, our muscles, our nervous system, and the cardiovascular system. I’m sure once we better understand our “body,” we’ll better understand our need to rest, eat well, exercise and not smoke (stop if you do) and importantly, what diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects. We’ll start this journey with the anatomy of our skeleton.
Our skeleton is the flexible, bony framework found in all vertebrates - you bet, we’re a vertebrate. Our skeleton maintains our body’s shape - much like the steel framework of a building - protects our vital organs, and provides a system of “muscle levers” that allows body movement. Although it allows body movement - and this is important - our skeletal system can’t move on its own. Our skeleton contains bone marrow, the blood-forming tissues of the body. Bone marrow stores needed minerals such as calcium and phosphorus and releases them into the blood.
Bone tissue consists of about two-thirds mineral components - mostly calcium salts, which give bones rigidity and firmness, and one-third organic components which give our bones some elasticity and flexibility. Both of these qualities, firmness and flexibility are important. Without rigidity bones could not keep their shape - in fact neither would we, but without some elasticity they would shatter without difficulty.
Bones, over the generations, have evolved to provide all types of protection from strain: gravitational pressure from the body itself and movement against resistance – for example, lifting a heavy object over your head. A human skeleton generally forms about 206 separate bones out of cartilage as it develops from an embryotic state through maturity – about age 25. Bones are connected to bordering bones by joints. Joints are either movable as in the arm and leg or unable to move as in the skull or sacrum. Joints are areas where bones are “linked” together. Joints have varying degrees of mobility, better understood as range of motion (ROM).
In some joints the bones are linked simply by gristly connective tissue called cartilage in other areas, such as the hips and shoulders – the bones are “bound” together by a joint “capsule” composed of dense connective tissue. A joint capsule is a “sleeve like” structure that encloses the joint, prevents loss of synovial fluid - the fluid that feeds cartilage, removes debris, and lubricates joints in preparation for movement - and binds together the ends of the bones called articulating surfaces.
In most joint areas, even those with dense joint capsules, there are dense bundles of fibers called ligaments. The ligaments function chiefly to strengthen and stabilize the joint in a “passive” way. Unlike our muscles, ligaments can’t actively contract on demand – nor in most cases can they stretch. Ligaments experience stress by certain positions of the joint and experience stress-release by others.
Our skeleton system is always at risk from stress and health related issues such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural weakening of bone tissue, leading to bones that break easily increasing our risk of fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Bone disease can result from excessive drinking, smoking, and lack of exercise - - I’m pretty sure I’ve told you that before. Well, time to go – next time: “Muscle Anatomy”. See you at Opening Doors – and remember: Live, Laugh, and Love often.