Anatomy

Human muscles enable movement. When diagnosing or treating sports injuries it is very important to know where muscles attach to the bones, and which movements they generate. If you know where a muscle originates from and inserts into, and which joint actions they make happen then you will know how to stretch and strengthen the muscle, as well as how to assess it for injury.

Skeletal muscles consist of a number of different parts which all contribute to the muscle contracting and towards growth, repair and protection of the muscle.

Muscle contractions occur every time we move. The muscle must contract in order to move the bone that it is attached to or to provide resistance against a force.

The hip & pelvic muscles are important for stabilising the body and for the function of the legs. See more about the different muscles in the hip and pelvis, their uses, and exercises to strengthen and stretch them.

Elbow joint muscles

The elbow joint is a simple hinge joint but most movements involving the elbow joint also involve the radioulna joint where the forearm bones (radius and ulna) join at the elbow joint. Muscles producing movements at the elbow and forearm are the triceps brachii, brachioradialis, brachialis, biceps brachii and the anconeus.

The spine consists of 24 vertibrae, 7 cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (chest), 5 lumbar (lower back), 5 fused bones of the sacrum and 4 fused bones in the coccyx or tailbone. The main muscles involved in moving the spine and neck are the rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, quadratus lumborum, multifidus, sternocleidomastoid and errector spinae.

The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh consist of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. See more on how the hamstring muscles are used, and how to strengthen and stretch them.

Knee joint muscles

The knee joint consists of the femur (thigh bone), tibia and fibula with the patella or kneecap. Muscles producing joint actions at the knee joint are the quadriceps muscles (vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris at the front, with the hamstring muscles (semitendinosis, semimembranosus and biceps femoris) at the back along with the popliteus muscle.

The shoulder joint consists of the clavicle, scapula and humerus (upper arm bone). Due to the nature of the joint there is a huge range of movement or shoulder joint actions available. The muscles of the shoulder joint are the subscapularis, latissimus dorsi, infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major, supraspinatus, deltoid, and pectoralis major (pec muscles).

Foot and ankle muscles

The foot and ankle are complex areas of the body, with many bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles connecting everything and enabling it to function. See more about the muscles, their uses, and exercises to strengthen and stretch them.

Wrist and hand muscles

The wrist and hand are very complex parts of the body, with many bones, tendons and muscular structures enabling us  to use them. See more about the muscles in the wrist and hand, their uses, and how to strengthen and stretch them.

Shoulder girdle consists of the clavicle (collar bone) and the scapula (shoulder blade) which generally move together as a unit. Only the clavicle connects directly to the rest of the skeleton at the sternum bone. It is really only the scapula which moves from action of the muscles. The muscles of the shoulder girdle are serratus anterior, pectoralis minor, levator scapulae, rhomboids and trapezius.

The foot is a very complex body part with 26 bones and so many more joints and even more ligaments. Plus tendons, muscles and other soft tissues!

The ankle joint consists of the upper bones, the Tibia and fibula and the Talus at the bottom. There are many ligaments supporting the joint, which are frequently injured.

The knee joint is the largest joint in the body, consisting of 4 bones and an extensive network of ligaments and muscles.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, formed by the head of the Femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum of the pelvis. The dome-shaped head of the femur forms the ball, which fits snugly into the concave socket of the acetabulum.

The shoulder is a complex joint with high mobility but a lack of stability. The anatomy of the joint is explained here:

The elbow is a relatively simple hinge joint which only allows flexion and extension. The elbow joint occurs at the junction the humerus or upper arm bone, the ulna which is the larger of the two forearm bones and the radius bone.

Wrist anatomy is the study of the bones, ligaments and other structures in the wrist. The wrist joint is a complex joint which connects the forearm to the hand, allowing a wide range of movement. However, it is susceptible to injury, especially from repetitive strain.

The back in general is such a large area, incorporating everything from the pelvis to the very top of the neck and scapula (shoulder blades). For that reason this section focuses solely on the spine.

Human muscles

Human muscles enable movement. When diagnosing or treating sports injuries it is very important to know where muscles attach to the bones, and which movements they generate. If you know where a muscle originates from and inserts into, and which joint actions they make happen then you will know how to stretch and strengthen the muscle, as well as how to assess it for injury.

On this page:

  • Skeletal muscle structure
  • Muscle contraction (sliding filament theory)
  • Hip and pelvic muscles
  • Elbow joint muscles
  • Trunk and spine muscles
  • Knee joint muscles
  • Shoulder joint muscles
  • Shoulder girdle muscles
  • Foot and ankle muscles
  • Wrist and hand muscles

Human muscles structure

Skeletal muscle structureSkeletal muscle is made up of a number of different parts. Muscles are made up of bundles of muscle fibres called fasciculi. Each muscle fibre is made up of a number of myofibryls. Each myofibril is made up of proteins called actin and myosin.

Read more on the structure of skeletal muscle.

Muscle contraction & sliding filament theory

Muscle contraction and sliding filament theorySliding filament theory describes at a molecular level how muscles contract. Muscles can contract in different ways depending on the type of movement at the joint. For example, a concentric muscle contraction is when the muscle being contracted shortens (the bicep muscle during a bicep curl exercise. An eccentric muscle contraction is when the muscle lengthens but contracting at the same time (the qudriceps muscles during the downwards phase of a squat). If there is no movement and the muscle is contracted then this is known as an isometric or static contraction.

Read more on muscle contraction.

Foot and ankle muscles

Foot and ankle musclesThe major muscles of the foot and ankle are the Gastrocnemius & Soleus (calf muscles), Peroneus brevis, Peroneus longus, Tibialis posterior, Tibialis anterior, Flexor hallucis longus, flexor digitorum longus, Extensor hallucis longus and the Extensor digitorum longus. The movements generated at the foot and lower leg are plantar flexion (foot points down), dorsi flexion (foot points up), eversion (foot rolls in) and inversion (foot rolls out like an ankle sprain).

Read more on foot & ankle muscles.

Knee joint muscles

Knee joint musclesThe major human muscles which move the knee joint are known as the quadriceps muscle group, at the front of the thigh consisting of the Rectus femoris, Vastus medialis, Vastus intermedius & Vastus lateralis, and hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh consisting of the Biceps femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimenbranosus. The Gastrocnemius in the lower leg also weakly flexes (bends) the knee. Movements at the knee joint are flexion (bending), extension (straightening) and a small amount of rotation.

Read more on knee joint muscles.

Hip and pelvic muscles

Hip and pelvic m,usclesThe hip and pelvic muscles include the Rectus femoris, Iliopsoas (hip flexors), Adductor longus, Adductor magnus, Gracilis, Adductor brevis (adductor muscles), Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius (gluteal muscles) and the Biceps femoris. These muscles enable flexion (thigh forwards and upwards), hip extension (thigh downwards and backwards), abduction (out to the side), adduction (inwards) and rotation.

Read more on hip and pelvic muscles.

Trunk and spine muscles

Trunk spine musclesThe spine consists of 24 vertibrae, 7 cervical (neck), 12 thoracic (chest), 5 lumbar (lower back), 5 fused bones of the sacrum and 4 fused bones in the coccyx or tailbone. The main muscles involved in moving the spine and neck are the rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, quadratus lumborum, multifidus, sternocleidomastoid and errector spinae.

Read more on spine muscles.

Shoulder joint muscles

Shoulder joint musclesThe human muscles of the shoulder joint are the Subscapularis, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor & Teres Major, which are known as the rotator cuff muscles, as well as the Latissimus dorsi, Pectoralis major and Deltoidius muscle. The shoulder joint has a huge range of movement available which is why it is often prone to injury in sport.

Read more on shoulder joint muscles.

Elbow joint muscles

Elbow joint musclesThe muscles at the elbow joint include Triceps brachii, Biceps brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis, Pronator teres, Anconeus, Supinator and the Pronator quadratus. Many of the elbow joint muscles also cross the wrist joint as well. Movements at the elbow joint are flexion and extension, with pronation and supination of the forearm.

Read more on elbow joint muscles.

Wrist and hand joint muscles

Wrist and hand musclesWrist and hand muscles include Extensor carpi radialis brevis, Extensor carpi radialis longus, Extensor carpi ulnaris, Extensor digitorum, Extensor pollicis longus, Felxor carpi radialis, Flexor carpi ulnaris, Flexor digitorum superficialis and Flexor pollicis longus.

Read more on wrist and hand muscles.

Shoulder girdle muscles

Shoulder girdle musclesShoulder girdle consists of the clavicle (collar bone) and the scapula (shoulder blade) which generally move together as a unit. Only the clavicle connects directly to the rest of the skeleton at the sternum bone. It is really only the scapula which moves from action of the muscles. The muscles of the shoulder girdle are serratus anterior, pectoralis minor, levator scapulae, rhomboids and trapezius.

Read more on shoulder girdle muscles.

Bones and joints anatomy including foot, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and elbow.

This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.