The musculoskeletal system is the organ system in the body that gives you the ability to move using two primary subsystems: the body’s muscular and skeletal systems. The musculoskeletal system is comprised of your bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and other connective tissues. The musculoskeletal system provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body.
As a licensed massage therapist, you’re expected to know the functions of the muscular and skeletal systems and how to help your clients maintain their musculoskeletal health. That’s why a very important section of your massage therapy exam will cover musculoskeletal health, with an emphasis on the muscular system, including: muscle anatomy, muscle physiolo
gy, and muscle kinesiology. This quick review will help refresh your memory of the primary functions musculoskeletal system before you start your studying.
A Quick Review of the Muscular System
Muscle tissue provides motion, maintenance of posture, and heat production. Muscles are tissues whose function is to convert chemical energy into mechanical work through the contraction of the muscles. The muscle tissue consists of specialized cells (fibers) that are specific to the role of actively generating force for contraction. There are three types of muscles: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac.
Skeletal muscles make up 50 percent of body weight and care comprised of 640 individually named muscles. The primary and basic function of skeletal muscles is to support movement, posture, and the skeletal system. Their contraction is under conscious control of the brain. The cardiac muscles make up most of the tissue fibers found in the wall of the heart. Unlike skeletal muscles, the contraction is involuntary. Finally, smooth muscles are involuntary (like cardiac muscles). Smooth muscle fibers form the walls of the digestive tract, bladder, uterus, various ducts of glands, and blood vessel walls.
A Quick Review of the Skeletal System
The skeletal system provides shape and form for our bodies, support, and protection. It also allows bodily movement, produces blood for the body, and stores minerals. The average adult skeleton consists of 206 bones, with five general classifications: long bones, short bones, flat bones, irregular bones, and sesamoid bones. There are also two divisions of the skeletal system: the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton.
While most know the skeletal system for providing a framework for tissues and protecting vital organs (i.e., the skull protects the brain and the ribcage protects the lungs), long bones consist of bone marrow. Yellow bone marrow has fatty connective tissue. When the body is in starvation mode, the body uses the fat in yellow marrow for energy. Red bone marrow is an important site for blood cell production. The bones also store certain minerals, including calcium and phosphorous, to regulate mineral balance in the blood stream.
Nutritional supplements keep the musculoskeletal system healthy and prevent pain. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a basic multi-vitamin mineral complex to ensure intake. Fish oil has been shown to show an anti-inflammatory effect within the body with its omega fatty acids. Vitamin D supports many functions throughout our bodies, but can help protect the body from muscle weakness and bone fractures. Vitamin C, Collagen, and Carnitine are other vitamins and minerals that can also aid in musculoskeletal health.
To learn more about the musculoskeletal system and how massage therapy can aid in its help, Massage Prep offers animated muscle tutorials, a muscle color book, flash cards, interactive study guides, and practice exams.