How Does Your Musculoskeletal System Work?

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This week we’re talking about the skeletal system, and not just because it’s Halloween time (although don’t think it was by accident, it is a good time for it).

Your musculoskeletal system serves as a lot more than just a traditional costume. It helps with movement, stability, and posture at the very least—and it’s actually impossible to do anything without it.

The Muscles of Your Musculoskeletal System

The basic function of your musculoskeletal system is to provide an upright shape and stability to your body.

Every action that your body makes takes intention. Every time you make a move, your brain sends electromagnetic impulses sent into your muscles that force them to contract—whether you’re consciously thinking about it or not.

Your muscles are built in layers of fibers so that they can work together to expand and contract. Many fibers joined together is called a fascicle, and many fascicles together is what makes a single muscle. This not only makes them mobile, it allows the muscle to lose mobility (whether through stretching/tearing/or breaking) some fibers or fascicles and still function.

If you have ever “pulled a muscle” you know what I mean. You can still walk on a pulled hamstring, because there are many parts of the whole and the parts that remain uninjured come together to compensate for the injured section.

There are three types of muscle tissue in the body, cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and skeletal muscle.

The Three Types of Muscle Found in Your Body

Cardiac muscles are only found in the heart. It is an involuntary muscle that consistently and rhythmically pulses. The heart actually creates its own electrical impulses to make the contractions in the muscle that serves to pump blood and create your heartbeat.

Smooth muscles control involuntary movements in our body. These are the things that you have don’t have to think about—they just happen and you stay alive. These muscles make up the walls of the hollow organs, the respiratory muscles, and the blood vessels. Smooth muscles are responsible for things like digestion, eyesight, and bladder function.

Skeletal muscles are how we control our voluntary movements. You know, the things you choose to do like dancing and high fiving. There are over 600 skeletal muscles and they make up about 40 percent of body weight! These muscles are connected to the bone, cartilage, and connective tissue, which provide the support so that the body can move—and thus providing the name for this system. Skeletal muscles always come in pairs, one to move in one direction and the other to move it back.

Your Skeleton

The bones in your body are often overlooked. People think of them as “the thing that hold us up.” While that’s true, it’s actually only one major function of your skeletal system.

Bones are living, changing part of a body.

They protect our internal organs (hello rib bones) and they are a major source of our body’s minerals. In fact, roughly 60% of your bones are a storage system made of the minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These essential minerals are vital to many functions in the body, including hormonal balance and kidney function. When your blood needs a boost it isn’t getting from the diet, it pulls it from your bones to create balance out the minerals in your bloodstream.

This means that the body’s minerals and the health of the whole musculoskeletal system are dependent on the state of your metabolism, diet, and lifestyle.

Two Parts of Your Bones

Like your muscles, your bones are built in layers. The outside layer is dense and strong, This layer helps protect your body and houses the blood vessels that keep the bone living and serve to balance minerals in the bloodstream.

The middle layer, or bone marrow, is much less dense and allows the bone to be more flexible and lightweight—this layer keeps your bones from being brittle. Bone marrow is where new blood cells are made in the body and where minerals are stored for use in creating balance throughout the system.

This means that our bones are a hugely regenerative part of our bodies—definitely not just what our muscles are attached to to keep us moving.

An Important Musculoskeletal Takeaway

It’s no coincidence that our bones produce new cells, are our mineral stores, and are connected to our muscles. It’s an evolutionary benefit that keeps us alive.

We have talked before about how when we’re under stress our body releases more minerals and our blood is shunted to feed our skeletal muscles (you can read about that here). The proximity of the skeletal muscle to the bone allows our bodies to very quickly pull minerals from our bones for energy.

That’s awesome when you’re working out, getting into the game, of your adrenaline is pumping in a healthy way, but if you’re under chronic stress, it could add to long-term bone health issues.

Think of it this way, our bones use the same minerals to serve two functions—to strengthen the stability of the bones themselves and to provide minerals/new blood to the bloodstream when the body does not have enough.

If you’re under chronic stress (or even just working out too much for too long) and your body is continually pumping new blood full of nutrients into your muscles, it might effect the stability your body provides over time.

Like everything else in your body, this is about balance.

3 Tips to Keep A Healthy Musculoskeletal System

If your internal environment of the body isn’t in balance or there isn’t enough mineral content in your diet, your bone marrow may not be able to properly remineralize the blood or build strong bones—don’t make it choose.

Keep up a healthy diet. Flush your body with minerals from whole foods. Leafy greens and fresh fruit should be on your daily intake list. They have bioavailable minerals that your body can use. Steer clear of refined sugars as it depletes vital minerals.

Take Time to Stretch. Your muscles are connected to your bones and rhe fibers of your muscles are living so they are naturally receiving a blood supply—but when you stretch, it actively pushes fresh blood to those stretching muscles. Muscles help to hold your bones in their correct place so stretching them evenly and regularly can help keep your bones in line.

Take time to relax. Really relax. Your muscles’ natural state is relaxation. If you’re working with chronic stress your muscles will tense, which takes you out of your natural state and propels the cyclic connection with stress. Regular massage/chiropractic work can be helpful if you’re having a hard time connecting with your relaxed state.

Protip: Stretch/workout after your massage/body work. Using your muscles when your bones are aligned is really good for the health of your musculoskeletal system.

How do you keep your musculoskeletal system healthy? Tell us in the comments!

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