Skeletal Muscle

Skeletal muscle is one of the three types of muscles in the human body- the others being visceral and cardiac muscles. In this lesson, skeletal muscles, its definition, structure, properties, functions, and types are explained in an easy but detailed way.

Skeletal Muscle is a muscle tissue that is attached to the bones and is involved in the functioning of different parts of the body. These muscles are also called as voluntary muscles as they come under the control of the nervous system in the body.

Structure of a Skeletal Muscle

The structural of Skeletal Muscle is as shown below-

Structure of Skeletal Muscle

This muscle is attached to the bones by an elastic tissue or collagen fibers called tendons. These tendons are comprised of connective tissues. The skeletal muscles consist of a bundle of muscle fibers naming fascicule. These fascicules are cylindrical in shape as shown in the figure. These muscle fibers are surrounded by blood vessels and a number of layers of other tissues enclosing it.

Each muscle fiber is line by plasma membrane naming sarcolemma reticulum. It encloses a cytoplasm called as sarcoplasm which has the endoplasmic reticulum. The muscle fibers consist of myofibrils which have two important proteins naming actin and myosin in it. The fascicule is enclosed by perimysium and the endomysium is the connective tissue that encloses the muscle fibers.

Properties

The skeletal muscles have the following properties:

  • Extensibility: It is the ability of the muscles to extend when it is stretched.
  • Elasticity: It is the ability of the muscles to return to its original structure when released.
  • Excitability: It is the ability of the muscle to respond to a stimulus.
  • Contractility: It is the ability of a muscle to contract when in contact with a stimulus.

Functions

  • The skeletal muscles are responsible for body movements such as typing, breathing, extending the arm, writing, etc. The muscles contract which pulls the tendons on the bones and causes movement.
  • The body posture is maintained by the skeletal muscles. The gluteal muscle is responsible for the erect posture of the body. The sartorius muscles in thighs are responsible for body movement.
  • The skeletal muscles protect the internal organs and tissues from any injury and also provide support to these delicate organs and tissues.
  • These also support the entry and exit points of the body. The sphincter muscles are present around the anus, mouth and the urinary tract. These muscles contract which reduces the size of the openings and facilitates swallowing of food, defecation, and urination.
  • The skeletal muscles also regulate body temperature. After a strenuous exercise, the body feels hot. This is due to the contraction of skeletal muscles which converts energy into heat.

Types of Skeletal Muscles

There are two types of skeletal muscles named as red and white muscles-

  • Red Muscles

Red muscles are due to the red pigment called as myoglobin which is in high amounts in the human body. These muscles are smaller in diameter and have a large number of mitochondria in it. The myoglobin stores the oxygen which is used by the mitochondria for the synthesis of ATP. Red muscles have a large number of blood capillaries in it.

  • White Muscles

Unlike the red muscles, the white muscles are bigger in diameter and have a small amount of myoglobin in it. They also have less number of mitochondria in it.

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