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  • Julie Manley

Chilled to the bone


Halo’s eve is upon us! (Nearly) And though this festival of ghosts and everything creepy may give you the chills, why not use it as an opportunity to learn something. You may have noticed many strung up skeletons on display - which may seem unsettling to some- but quite educational to us physiotherapy nerds.

Many of us are experts in some field or another; teaching, cooking, construction, farming etc; However, it is surprising how many people aren’t educated on the workings of their own body.

As physiotherapists and registered massage therapists, a large part of the treatment process is educating patients on their bodies and recovery by teaching anatomy, describing where and why a disfunction may be occurring, proper biomechanical solutions, forms of self treatment and ways to correct muscular or tissue imbalances with strengthening or stretching.

As a patient (or as a human in general) it is beneficial for you to know more about your own bodies and anatomy is a good place to start. The body is made up of different tissues; bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments and many more.

Bones are the structure to which all of your tissues attach and form around. Together they form your skeleton (that creepy guy hanging off trees and hiding in bushes this time of year). The skeletal system is a dynamic organ with many functions, including giving us our human shape, allowing locomotion and motor function, facilitating respiration, protecting vital organs, producing marrow-derived cells, and playing a crucial role in homeostasis [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Bones are dynamic structures that are undergoing constant change and remodelling in response to the ever-changing environment.[3] In fact, there is so much turnover that in 4 years, the skeleton of a young person will be completely new as compared with their skeleton today.[1] Bones can react and respond to environmental stimuli; they can get bigger or smaller, they can strengthen themselves when needed, and, when broken, they are among the few organs with the ability to regenerate without scar.[1]

There are 206 bones (some say 213[4] ) in the human body. Some variation exists, because humans may have different numbers of certain bones (eg, vertebrae and ribs). Bones vary widely in size, ranging from the tiny inner ear bones that are responsible for transmitting mechanical sound waves to the sensory organs to the large (nearly 2 ft long) femur bone that is strong enough to withstand 30 times one's body weight.

A basic knowledge of how your skeleton interacts with the other parts of your body can be helpful when understanding an injury or when correcting postural imbalances. Since muscles are attached to bones, and uneven pull (tight muscles on one side of a joint and laxity in muscles on the other side of the joint) can lead to pain, postural dysfunction and injury.

A good resource for learning general anatomy (bones, muscles, nervous, cardiovascular and many more) that we’ve found is: http://www.innerbody.com

So next time someone tries to scare you with Steven the Skelton , simply respond, “Nice try, but that did not frighten me in a gluteus maximus way, not even medius or minimus; however, I find that simply humerus” … Discover your inner nerd!

1 Form and function of bone. Einhorn T, O'Keefe R, Buckwalter JA. Orthopaedic Basic Science: Foundations of Clinical Practice. 3rd ed. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; 2007. 129-174.

2 Bone and joint biology. Lieberman J. AAOS Comprehensive Review. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; 2009. 41-52.

3 Raisz LG. Normal skeletal development and regulation of bone formation and resorption. UpToDate. Available at http://www.uptodate.com/contents/normal-skeletal-development-and-regulation-of-bone-formation-and-resorption. Accessed: 6/10/2016.

4 Clarke B. Normal bone anatomy and physiology. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Nov. 3 Suppl 3:S131-9. [Medline].

5 Rosen HN. Bone physiology and biochemical markers of bone turnover. UpToDate. Available at http://www.uptodate.com/contents/bone-physiology-and-biochemical-markers-of-bone-turnover. Accessed: 6/10/2016.


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