How many skeletal muscles does the body have?



The body has more than 650 muscles. From the smallest, the stapedius muscle (1) in the inner ear, to the largest, gluteus maximus. (2)  This does not include muscles that do not attach to bones.  Examples of non-skeletal muscles would include the muscles in the gastro-intestinal tract, blood vessels or urinary system.

Some factors to consider for maximizing your muscular health are:

  • Do your muscles have the appropriate balance of strength compared to the same muscle on the opposite side of the body when paired?
  • For joints that have more than one muscle involved, what is the relative balance of strength?
  • Is the length of all the muscles involved in any specific joint appropriate?  For example, The strength of all the muscles controlling the shoulder joint may all be appropriate, but due to excessive stretching in certain directions, the resting ‘neutral’ position of the shoulder may not be correct.
  • Timing – when doing various activities, multiple muscles may need to fire with specific strengths in very tightly controlled sequences.  If the timing or strength of firing is off, the joints will not be controlled properly resulting in inefficiencies, damage or injuries.
  • More factors to consider include: speed of firing, ranges of motion, independence of action, neurological control and endurance.

With musculo-skeletal conditions being the second most common reason for office visits to doctors, there is plenty of room for each of us to improve our muscle awareness and the factors that could be involved for biomechanical health.  Let’s all commit to learning a bit more about our bodies every day.

  • How many of your muscles can you name?
  • How many of these do you know any performance measure for (strength, length, speed, etc.)?