Skeletal System

Skeletal System: Our body’s foundation

Our body’s basic foundation is the skeletal system. Have you ever wondered what gives structure and form to your body? It surely isn’t just the skin (integumentary system) that holds all in one piece. Something must be giving it structure and give protection to all the vital organs that we need to help our body function properly. Let me give you a clue… you know that structure that is whitish in color that stands in your science room when you were in school? It has the form of our human body, a little creepy in appearance but that is exactly what we have internally. Right you are, it’s our skeletal system!

Our bone system is responsible for giving framework to our bodies and giving support to our body frame shape. It allows us to kick a soccer ball, swim, dance around or just simply stand up from a chair. It gives protection to our vital organs such as our brain, lungs and heart. Our bone system also has functions in our blood cell production, storage of calcium and endocrine regulation. Surprisingly, all these functions are all done by this system! Let’s get into a little deeper introduction about the 411 about our skeletal system.

Human skeletal system
click image to enlarge

The adult human skeletal system is comprised of 206 bones. These individual bones, which range in size depending on the person’s body structure, are cushioned by ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles. I’m sure you’ve all visited a museum where you’ve seen bones of a dinosaur from hundreds of millions of years ago right? Don’t let this system fool you, although bones seem dead, they are actually very much alive. They change and grow every single day in your body even if you don’t feel like they do. This system have layers in each bone just like almost every organ or structure in our body.

The outermost part of our bones is called the “periosteum.” This layer is very thin and contains nerves for sensation and blood vessels for nutrients that our bones need for nourishment. The next layer is made up by our “compact bone.” This layer is very hard and smooth. This is the part of the bone you see when you look at your skeleton system model in your science classroom. Within your compact bone there are also layers called “cancellous” which looks like a sponge but is still quite hard. This layer of our bone protects the innermost part which is called the “bone marrow.” Our bone marrow looks like a thick jelly mold and it is responsible for making blood cells, which is vital to our blood circulation. Does this give you the basics about our amazing system? Let us proceed…

How do our bones in our skeletal system grow exactly?

From infancy to adulthood, our bones continue to grow every single day of our lives. It is pretty much obvious because we get taller and our hands and feet get bigger. A little unknown trivia for you, did you know that a baby has more bones in the body than adults do? They have 300 bones while adults only have 206 bones? The reason behind that is that once a person starts to develop and get older, the bones start to fuse together forming 206 bones. When we reach the age of 25 years old, this is the time that our bones are complete and fully developed. Our bones reach its maximum length and width.

Our skeletal system is classified into 2 types:

  1. the AXIAL system
  2. the APPENDICULAR system

Our axial system comprises of 80 bones and it includes the vertebral column (26 bones), the ribs (the sternum and 12 pairs of ribs) and the skull (22 bones with 7 associated bones). This part of the skeletal system is responsible for the upright position of our body because it balances our body weight. The appendicular system contains 126 bones and this includes the pectoral girdle, the upper extremities (the arms), the pelvic girdle and the lower extremities (the legs). Let’s break it down a little more for better understanding.

The spine is the long vertical bone in the middle of your back, which is one of the vital and “must-protect” bones in our bone system because once you damage this portion, it could be fatal. The spine is responsible for our twisting movements and holds our body in the upright position. This bone protects the spinal cord which is a very delicate part of our body because it sends information through nerve signals to your brain for it to control the rest of your body. It is made up of 26 bones all in all and these bones are called the “vertebrae.” You must always remember to take care of every single bone in your skeletal system especially your vertebral column because of its importance in sending signals your brain to make your body function in its proper manner. Protecting your spine in manners such as sitting up straight, using proper body mechanics and avoiding accidents such as falls is always something to keep in mind. Once you damage your spine, your body won’t be able to function normally.

This system also has ribs which are also very important to your body. The ribs are located anteriorly and are shaped like a cage thus having the nickname “rib cage.” The ribs protect your heart, lungs and liver, which we all know have very important functions. Try this out: breathe in deeply and slowly and notice how your rib cage expands, then breathe out slowly your rib cage will slowly deflate. We have 12 pairs of ribs which are attached to our spine. The very last set of ribs is called “floating ribs” because they aren’t connected to our sternum which is the board-like bone on your chest.

The skull is probably a little more familiar part of this system because it’s located at the top of our head. It protects our brain from moving around. The skull also gives structure to our face. The smallest bone in our body is also cited in our head. It is the stirrup bone which is right behind your eardrum which has a measurement of 2.5 to 3.3 millimeters long only.

Your limbs or upper and lower extremities are also a very important part of our skeletal system because without them we wouldn’t be able to hold things in our arms, stand up straight, bend and hyperextend or limbs. While I sit here and type on my laptop, I’m using different bones in my arms. There is a grand total of 54 bones in your fingers and it varies in different shapes and sizes. Think about when you walk or run, your bones in the legs have a crucial role during those actions. Your pelvic bone or hip bone supports your spine and acts as a protection for your digestive, urinary and reproductive system. Your leg bones are strong and very large because it needs to have the strength to support your body weight. The largest bone in your skeletal system located in your legs. This is the “femur” which is located where your thigh is.

We always have to make sure that we take care of not only our organs but also our entire skeletal system because without those bones our organs wouldn’t be enclosed in for protection. Remember these few tips for healthy bone maintenance: when you ride a bike, use your rollerblades or do other sports, be sure to wear a helmet to protect your skull. Wear the right protective equipment during sports or other activities to make sure that you don’t break any bones in your body. Although broken bones heal, it could take quite some time for it to heal completely. Take the right amount of calcium daily, drinking milking or taking calcium supplements do help big time! Live an active lifestyle. Exercise at least 3 times a week to strengthen not only your bones but also the other organs in your body. Exercise keeps the body pumping and healthy.

There are also natural remedies that could strengthen the skeletal system and also decrease symptoms of bone problems. Living a healthy lifestyle is the best advice you can ever give yourself or anybody else. If you already do, continue it, if you’re still stuck being lazy and unbalanced in your lifestyle it’s about time to do something drastic about it and make a change.