Why is skeletal muscle striated?

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Skeletal muscle is said to be striated in terms of appearance. The striations are similar to stripes, and if one looks at them closely, they usually come in pairs.  These paired striations on skeletal muscles are actually bands of sarcomeres that contract and/or relax during movement.  In its simplest explanation, the striations on skeletal muscle are necessary for the muscle’s essential functioning in movement and locomotion.

Skeletal muscles are designed for movement, and they are found all over the body with specific functions.  Those located on the trunk are needed mostly for stability, while skeletal muscles located on the arms and legs are usually used for movement and/or locomotion.  Without the striations, or stripes, on these skeletal muscles, the muscles themselves won’t be able to perform their functions in terms of movement.

Basically, what happens is that the striations come in pairs with one part elongating for relaxation and the other part shortening for extraction.  For a muscle to perform a certain movement, the striations or bands of sarcomeres must work together in harmony for the desired output.  Like in the case of a normal biceps curl, some striations will shorten for the contraction of the biceps muscle while their pairs will elongate for relaxation.  This particular process makes movement and locomotion smooth and easy.  Without the proper functioning of the sarcomere bands, movement may be jerky or may not be achieved at all.

So the striations on skeletal muscles actually perform a vital function for limb and/or joint movements.  The bands of stripes have specific tasks to ensure that movement occurs smoothly and as directed by the person involved.  But striations are not exclusive to skeletal muscles. The muscles of the heart also have similar striations or bands of sarcomeres.  The major difference is that cardiac muscles work automatically or involuntarily without the person wanting to do so, while skeletal muscles are voluntarily activated.


Author: Hari M

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