For most of us, the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is the extent of our knowledge on the human body. Beyond that, every single part of our body has been carefully categorized, studied, and named. The sheer amount of information explains why people in health care spend years studying it. Here are seven interesting facts that will hopefully give you some new knowledge about your own body.
1. Arms and legs
In school, the common way we’re taught to refer to our bodies is that our upper limbs are our arms, and our lower limbs are our legs. Anatomically speaking, this isn’t accurate. Legs are considered to be just the lower part of your leg below the knee to your ankles, but not including them. Your thighs include the area above the knee to right below your hips. There’s also no such thing as upper arms, and referring to the whole part as arm is technically inaccurate. You have arms that are from your shoulder to above your elbow. Your forearms are below your elbows to your wrist.
2. Biceps, triceps and quadriceps
When you hear the terms biceps, triceps, or quadriceps, it means that it has two, three, or four separate muscles that work together and have the same origin. In anatomy, the word origin means the bone on the body where the muscle is attached. So telling someone that you’re working on your biceps could technically mean your thighs, though most people would automatically think of your arms. You have the biceps brachii muscle on your arms, and the biceps femoris muscle on your thighs.
3. How do muscles move?
Muscles can only move in one direction, by contracting. Contracting means your muscles are getting shorter. Every time you move, you’re using different muscles depending on which direction you’re moving in. There are muscles located on the front part of your body as well as the back part. The side used depends on your action.
4. Maintaining good posture
Ever wonder why it’s so hard to maintain a good posture? It’s because gravity is pushing you down, and you have specific muscles that are working against it to help you stand up straight. That’s why you may find yourself hunching down when you’re tired, because you’re exerting energy to maintain a straight back. However, good posture is important to properly distribute the pressure and weight from your body.
5. Breaking bones and tearing tendons
People generally know that tearing any tendon, such as your Achilles heel, is bad. They would also consider breaking a bone to be pretty bad. The truth is that healing your bones is easier than healing your tendons because bones are vascularized. This means that there are blood vessels flowing through your bones that allow them to receive the nutrients they need to properly heal. Tendons on the other hand are made of cartilage that do not have blood vessels and thus take a much longer time to heal.
6. The importance of calcium
Do you ever hear about how drinking lots of milk is important for strong bones? It’s not just an ad campaign trying to get you to buy more milk. Your bones naturally store calcium because you need it for tons of different processes in your body. If you’re not getting enough calcium, your bones will literally break down to ensure that you have enough calcium in your blood.
If you have any fond memories of activities you’ve done as a kid, say the splits, and attempted to do them again as an adult, you’ve probably found that it’s a lot harder than you remember. All of a sudden, as adults it’s more difficult and we feel less flexible in comparison. The reason is because our bones aren’t actually completely fused as children. There’s a lot of cartilage at our joints, the area connecting our bones that have a lot of elastic fibers. The word elastic in the names implies that they’re stretchy. When we get older, our joints lose this elastic-filled cartilage and it becomes bones. For this reason, people have to train for a long time as adults to be flexible. But once they are flexible, they’ll remain that way for a long time because they’ve stretched the cartilage that holds their bones close together.
Considering how much time is spent devoted to learning about our own personalities, and who we are as people, learning about our own physical bodies should be just as important. Hopefully you’ve learned something new and interesting about the wonderful body you have.