Looking at the human body, we can discern that there are three main types of muscle: smooth, skeletal, and cardiac (The Nemours Foundation, 1995). Each type of muscle has its own set of characteristics and responsibilities.
These types of muscles are the ones that are controlled by your brain and central nervous system without your awareness. They are often found in body parts like your airways or stomach (Allen et al, 2007). These muscles usually work as a unit, with an impulse being passed to a single innervating nerve in connection with a small collection of cells; this nerve then coordinates with other nerves (Ackerley). These muscles are usually long and narrow shaped cells with a reasonably elongated nucleus. The cells align themselves parallel to one another and no striations can be seen microscopically (Ackerley).
Cardiac muscles also typically act without conscious thought as they are what lines your heart (Mackenzie, 1999). These muscles are unique from other muscle types not only because they control the heart but also because they are joined to each other using intercalated discs. The discs permits communication between the cells so that sequential contraction from the bottom to the top of the ventricle occurs and allows the maximal expulsion of blood from that part of your heart during muscle contraction (Ackerley).
When most people think of muscle, these are the types they think about. Skeletal muscle is what attaches to your bones through tendons and you can voluntarily manipulate for action (Mackenzie, 1999). Not all skeletal muscles is the same though; it can vary in color and speed of contraction. The color of the muscle is dependent on the muscle's level of myoglobin, the protein that binds oxygen and stores it until it is needed by mitochondria. The mitochondria is your muscle's source of energy as it is the part of the cell that takes in nutrients, breaks them down, and converts them to energy for the cell. How quickly muscles contract depends on their capacity to divide Adensine Triphoshate, an intricate chemical compound comprised from the energy released from food stored in your cells (Mackenzie, 1999).
Skeletal muscles can also be broken down into three fibers:
It can be helpful to know what type of muscles can be impacted by the type of play you are doing. Certain areas of the body will be more sensitive than others and you have to be careful not to risk any strain or permanent damage to the muscles of you or your partner. Strenthening your muscles can help you reduce any potential unwanted injury during your play time.
Ackerley, S. K. (n.d.). Muscle Tissue. Retrieved 10 21, 2011, from Developmental Biology Online: http://www.uoguelph.ca/zoology/devobio/210labs/muscle1.html
Allen, M., Bagg, A., Hamilton, J., John, K., Fricker, J., de Burgh, J., et al. (2007). The Human Body Book. New York: DK Publishing.
Mackenzie, B. (1999). Muscle Types. Retrieved 10 21, 2011, from BrianMac: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/muscle.htm
The Nemours Foundation. (1995). Your Muscles. Retrieved 10 21, 2011, from Kid's Health: http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/muscles.html
Wise Geek. (2003). What are Tendons. Retrieved 10 21, 2011, from Wise Geek: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-tendons.htm
Someone else's art deserves recognition! The images presented in this article were borrowed from the following places:
Header Image: http://cdn.running.competitor.com/files/2013/09/Muscle-fibers.jpg | Retrieved April 26, 2015
Image 1: Allen, M., Bagg, A., Hamilton, J., John, K., Fricker, J., de Burgh, J., et al. (2007). The Human Body Book. New York: DK Publishing.
Image 2: Allen, M., Bagg, A., Hamilton, J., John, K., Fricker, J., de Burgh, J., et al. (2007). The Human Body Book. New York: DK Publishing.
Image 3: Allen, M., Bagg, A., Hamilton, J., John, K., Fricker, J., de Burgh, J., et al. (2007). The Human Body Book. New York: DK Publishing.