The Muscular System


Terminology for muscle actions:-

Flexor = bend joint

Extensor = straighten joint

Therefore the name of a muscle is often a clue to its function!

Abduction = move away (from the body)  e.g. lifting your arm sideways

Adduction = move towards (the body) e.g. move your arm back to your side.


Muscles are responsible for the movement of body parts.

Each muscle = bundle of elastic fibres bound together in a sheath, the fascia.

Muscle contraction = movement.

They never completely relax – always a few contracted fibres in every muscle making them slightly tense = muscle tone.

Muscle tissue

  • Ability to contract
  • Extensible (extensor muscle in a joint contracts = corresponding flexor muscle is stretched or lengthened)
  • Elastic – following any movement, it returns to its original length.
  • Responsive – Constracts in response to nerve stimulation.

Muscles anchored by strong tendon to one bone:  point of attachment = “origin”.

Muscles likewise joined to a second bone:  point of attachment = “insertion”.

The second bone is the one that moves: muscle contracts, pulling the two bones towards each other.  (similarly, a different muscle on the other side of the bone has the opposite effect.)

Not all muscles attach to bones, however, some insert into muscles next to them, or the skin itself.

A beauty therapist doing a facial will concern herself with the muscles of the face, neck and shoulders.

Facial muscles

Note:  Facial muscles are almost all controlled by the 7th Cranial Nerve/Facial Nerve.

Many are very small and are either attached or inserted into another small muscle or the skin.

Muscles contracting pull the facial skin in a particular way creating facial expressions.

With age these facial expressions produce wrinkles.

Muscle tone also decreases with age.

Facial massage aims to improve the general tone of facial muscles.

Balancing the head and moving facial features use the muscles of the head, face, neck simultaneously.

Muscles of mastication (chewing):-

Movement of lower jawbone muscles (mandible).

Muscles of the upper body

These will be covered when massaging the shoulder area.  You will also cover the trapezius which makes up the majority of the upper back.

Muscles of the hand and arm

Hands and fingers are moved by tendons pulled by muscles in the forearm.  They contract, pull the tendons, and move the fingers like a puppet on a string.

Muscles that bend the wrist down towards the forearm = flexors.

Muscles that straighten wrist and hands = extensors.

lower leg2
Muscles of the foot work together for walking and running.

Like the hand, the foot is moved by the muscles pulling tendons which move the feet and toes.



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