There are 206 bones which provide the framework for the body, called the skeleton. They support the weight of the body. They also provide firm surfaces for the attachment of ligaments and tendons so that the muscles can function. They protect the central nervous system and vital organs.
The skull – part of the skeleton – protects the brain. The vertebrae that comprise the “backbone” protects the spinal cord.
The skeleton is divided into two main divisions, the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton.
Vertebral Column: A strong and flexible column, composed of a series of 33 separate bones called VERTEBRAE (singular = vertebra).
About 70cm long & divided into 5 regions:
Functions of the vertebral column include:
- Protects the spinal cord and spinal nerves
- Supports the weight of the body
- Provides a partly rigid and flexible axis for the body and a pivot for the head
- Plays an important role in posture and locomotion
- Serves as an attachment site for muscles of the neck and back.
- Transmits weight of trunk to the lower limbs.
When bones are broken during accidents, they can heal if stabilized and given enough time to recover. Physical activity can increase the strength of the bones because activity helps maintain calcium in bones.
A joint occurs any place where two bones meet. The ends of the bones in each joint are cushioned by cartilage so that the bones will not damage each other. The joint is stabilized by ligaments that act as a kind of elastic rope that keeps the bones “in the joint” so that movement is possible. Many joints also have lubricating fluid (synovial fluid), which reduces friction between moving bones. There are 3 main types of joints: Fibrous joints (Generally immovable), Cartilaginous joints (Immovable or slightly moveable) and Synovial joints (Freely moveable).