There are approximately 600 muscles in the human body. Most people are aware of their biceps, "quads", "glutes" and "calves". Your quadriceps "quads" break down into 4 additional muscles: vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris. The first 2 mentioned have 3 separate sets of nerve innervations each, breaking them down further and the last has 2 nerve innervations. This makes the "quads" go from 1 muscle to 11 ! ! ! A nerve innervation means that the brains sends a different signal to each part of the muscle depending on the position of the body and demand being placed upon it. Your body does not know that the muscles have names. What it does know is that when a muscle or portion of a muscle gets stretched (eccentric), it then needs to contract (concentric) to resist the force being placed on it. So whether you are walking, cycling or rolling over in bed, the body will recruit any muscles being stretched to then contract and create a resistance to the force which causes movement.
Awareness of the muscles and their specific function has allowed me, clients and students to re-connect with their movement patterns. This education then leads to better movement patterns which influences higher levels of performance and lower instance of injury. The more tuned in we are to our anatomy, the better the system functions and the better we feel! You have 600 muscles, but how many of them can you actively control? The more the better! For your next meditation, work on this skill by closing your eyes and moving various joints to explore the muscles that act at each location. See if the right and left sides feel similar.
Its all pretty fascinating and that is why I teach an 8 week anatomy course for Mesa College every fall and workshops around California for fitness instructors, yoga teachers and personal trainers. A very special presentation at a national convention led to production of a DVD which you can find below if you want to learn more about the human muscular system!
Click Here to see the DVD produced at Idea Health & Fitness Convention.