The skeleton is our collection of bones. It is comprised of 206 individual bones and serves 5 important purposes (discussed below).
The skeleton can be subdivided into two parts:
Functions of the Skeleton:
The purposes of the skeleton are:
- to protect organs
- to provide a way for soft tissues such as ligaments, joint capsules, tendons and posture muscles to hold the form upright against the force of gravity acting upon it
- to serve as a place for muscles to attach, and provide the leverage that moves the body
- to produce blood cells
- to store minerals
Types of Individual Bones:
The skeleton is comprised of 4 different types of bones:
- long, for example the femur, or leg bone, or the humerus, or arm bone
- short, for example the bones of the wrist (the carpals)
- flat, for example rib bones and skull
- irregular, or bones that fall into a miscellaneous category. Examples of irregular bones are the vertebrae.
Although bone may seem like it is a hard substance (and it is), it is also a highly responsive material. Strength of bone is developed by means of the stresses placed on it. Often, that stress is provided by exercise. That is why experts recommend weight-bearing exercise
, such as walking and running, for the prevention or maintenance of osteoporosis
. The impact on the bones during weight-bearing exercise will actually develop
the bone density, contributing positively to the health of the skeleton.
Joints - Articulations:
The bones of the skeleton are connected to each other at a junction called a joint, or articulation. It is at the joint that movement actually occurs. When the centers of the 2 bones forming an joint are lined up with respect to one another
, all is well. But when one or both of them get pulled out of line, pain and compromised movement occur.
Harter, Rod A. Human Anatomy, American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual, Second Edition. American Council on Exercise 1997.