What are the types of muscles?

Muscles are packed full of parallel bundles of fibres. These consist of many cells, called myocytes. When they contract, the muscle shortens and so creates a pulling action. There are three types of muscle in the body.

Skeletal muscle

This type of muscle pulls on bones to move the skeleton. Skeletal muscle is made of long, cylindrical cells called muscle fibres, each crammed with threads called myofibrils. These contain long protein filaments that slide over each other to make muscles contract.

Smooth muscles

Arranged in muscular sheets, smooth muscle makes things move along inside the body. For example, it mixes food in the stomach and pushes it through the intestines. It is the weakest type of muscle but has an essential role in moving food along the digestive tract and maintaining blood circulation through the blood vessels.

Smooth muscle acts involuntarily and cannot be consciously controlled.

Heart muscles

This type of muscle is found only in the heart, where it is used to pump blood around the body. Heart muscle never gets tired, and it never stops working. This type of muscle is strong and acts involuntarily.


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