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Chapter 1: Structure and function of the muscular, nervous and skeletal systems

Chapter 1 Assignments:


Describe the breakdown of the skeletal muscles. (i.e. connective tissues, filaments)


Explain the Sliding Filament Theory.


What are the Muscle Fiber Types? How do they apply to performance during exercise?


What two sensory structures assist with the control of skeletal muscles?


Discuss Bone strength in relation to Exercise.


What makes up the Axial Skeleton?

Chapter 1 Assignment Answers:

Gross anatomy: Skeletal muscles are surrounded by the epimysium, which is the outer layer of connective tissue of the muscles. The muscle is then divided into muscle fibers, where a bundle of them is known as a fascicle or a fasciculus. This fascicle is covered by the perimysium. Each fiber that is held within the fascicle is covered by an endomysium. These connective tissues work together to transfer force from the muscle to the bones.

Microscopic anatomy: Every muscle fiber is surrounded by the sarcolemma which closes in the contents within the cell, regulates the materials passing into the cell, and receives and conducts electric impulses and action potentials. Two other very important things in the cell are the mitochondria and the sarcoplasmic reticulum. These organelles are used to store calcium and regulate muscle actions and produce ATP. The myofibril is a columnar protein structure running parallel to the muscle fibers length. Every myofibril is a bundle of myofilaments made up of both actin and myosin. These are the filaments that we use for contracting muscles. Within actin there is both tropomyosin and troponin.

These are the sliding filament theory steps:

  1. The action potential goes across the length of the neuron which leads to releasing excitatory neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the neuromuscular junction. When at rest, this acetylcholine is within the axon terminal inside the synaptic vesicles. The action potential is the thing that will release these to the synaptic cleft that is between the muscle fiber and the neuron’s axon terminal.
  2. The acetylcholine moves through the synaptic cleft and it then binds to the acetylcholine receptors on the motor endplate of the fiber.
  3. This now leads to an action potential within the sarcolemma generating. The t-tubules take this action potential and the release of calcium starts from the sarcoplasmic reticulum.
  4. When this calcium goes to the sarcoplasm it goes to the troponin molecules to bind. These are found along the actin filaments.
  5. The binding causes confrontational changes in the troponin’s shape. This now moves the tropomyosin and exposes the myosin heads.
  6. When the muscle is at rest, the myosin head becomes energized, thus storing the energy released from the ATP breakdown. When these binding sites are exposed, the ability to attach and make a cross bridge will attempt to pull these filaments to the sarcomere’s center.
  7. Following the pulling of the actin filament, the head is now in a state of low energy. For detachment to happen, fresh ATP molecules need to be bound. Once bound, the heads detach from actin and the ATPase splits the ATP molecule. This now leaves the energized state and the option to form a cross bridge again.

We have three types of muscle fibers:

  1. Type I muscle fiber: These are slow oxidative or slow twitch fibers. They are known for their high capacity for oxidation and their resistance to fatigue when compared to the others. We use these primarily for our long endurance movements.
  2. Type IIa muscle fibers: These are the fast oxidative glycolytic muscle fibers and one of the two fast twitch fibers. These are large and powerful, and they have a moderate to a high anaerobic metabolic capability. These, unlike the next fiber group, have moderate anaerobic capacity and are moderately oxidative. They are essentially more resistant to fatigue than the next, but not as much as the Type I fibers.
  3. Type IIx muscle fibers: These are the fibers that are the fastest and the most powerful of the three. They are called the fast glycolytic fibers. These are purely anaerobic and highly fatigable compared to the other type II fibers.

Muscle Spindle: This is a spindle shaped sensory organ; it is thicker in the middle and tapered at both ends. This stretch receptor is dispersed through the skeletal muscles and are purely specialized to sense muscle length changes, particularly when the change is rapid. Muscle spindles have specialized fibers known as intrafusal fibers which have contractile proteins on each end and a centralized region wrapped up in sensory nerve endings. Due to location, when there is a stretch on the muscle fibers, then there will be a stretch equal to it on the muscle spindles. This is then sent to the spinal cord and a response is given. We call this a stretch reflex.

Golgi Tendon Organ: This is located at the muscle junction and the tendon attachment to the bone. It is primarily used to protect us from injury. The Golgi tendon becomes deformed when muscles are activated. If the force is large enough, the organ will relax the acting muscle and then stimulate the antagonist muscle.

Much like our muscles, bones adapt to exercise and increase in terms of both mass and strength. This happens when we do weight bearing exercise and resistance training, and it specifically acts on bone mineral density. Osteoporosis is one of the diseases that explain the need for these changes in bones. Osteoporosis is a disease that means porous bone and is essentially a weakened bone condition in which you may break your bones much more easily. With proper nutrition and exposure to weight bearing activity, bones can stay strong and continue to function well.

The axial skeleton is made up of the skull, the vertebral column, the sternum, and the ribs these are the bones used to protect our internal organs like the brain, heart, and the lungs. These also offer sites for the attachment of other skeletal muscles. We have 206 bones made up within the skeletal system.

You didn’t think we were going to leave you hanging without the answers, did you? Use these answers to double-check your own. Or, use them as a cram guide before the exam.

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