Connective Tissues of a Muscle

A skeletal muscle is composed of both muscular tissue and connective tissue (fig. 10.1). A skeletal muscle cell (muscle fiber) is about 10 to 100 in diameter and up to 30 cm long. It is surrounded by a sparse layer of areolar connective tissue called the endomysium2 (EN-doe-MIZ-ee-um), which allows room for blood capillaries and nerve fibers to reach each muscle fiber. Muscle fibers are grouped in bundles called fascicles3 (FASS-ih-culs), which are visible to the naked eye as parallel strands. These are the "grain" in a cut of meat; tender meat is easily pulled apart along its fascicles. Each fascicle is separated from neighboring ones by a connective tissue sheath called the perimysium,4 usually somewhat thicker than the endomysium. The muscle as a whole is surrounded by still another connective tissue layer, the epimysium.5 The epimysium grades imperceptibly into connective tissue sheets called fasciae (FASH-ee-ee)—deep fasciae between adjacent muscles and a superficial fascia (hypodermis) between the muscles and skin. The superficial fascia is very adipose in areas such as the buttocks and abdomen, but the deep fasciae are devoid of fat.

There are two ways a muscle can attach to a bone. In a direct (fleshy) attachment, collagen fibers of the epimy-

3fasc = bundle + icle = little

4 peri = around

5epi = upon,above

Saladin: Anatomy & I 10. The Muscular System I Text I © The McGraw-Hill

Physiology: The Unity of Companies, 2003 Form and Function, Third Edition

Chapter 10 The Muscular System 327

Fleshy Attachment





-Superficial fascia (adipose tissue)




Deep fascia


Epimysium Fascia

Figure 10.1 Connective Tissues of a Muscle. (a) The muscle-bone attachment. Here there is a continuity of connective tissues from the endomysium around the muscle fibers, to the perimysium, epimysium, deep fascia, and tendon, grading into the periosteum and finally the matrix of the bone. (b) A cross section of the arm showing the relationship of neighboring muscles to fascia and bone. (c) Muscle fascicles in the tongue. Vertical fascicles passing between the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the tongue are seen alternating with cross-sectioned horizontal fascicles that pass from the tip to the rear of the tongue. A fibrous perimysium can be seen between the fascicles, and endomysium between the muscle fibers within each fascicle.

sium are continuous with the periosteum, the fibrous sheath around a bone. The red muscle tissue appears to emerge directly from the bone. The intercostal muscles between the ribs show this type of attachment. In an indirect attachment, the collagen fibers of the epimysium continue as a strong fibrous tendon that merges into the periosteum of a nearby bone (fig. 10.1a). The attachment of the biceps brachii muscle to the scapula is one of many examples. Some collagen fibers of the periosteum continue into the bone matrix as perforating fibers (see chapter 7), so there is a strong structural continuity from endomysium to perimysium to epimysium to tendon to periosteum to bone matrix. Excessive stress is more likely to tear a tendon than to pull it loose from the muscle or bone.

In some cases, the epimysium of one muscle attaches to the fascia or tendon of another or to collagen fibers of the dermis. The ability of a muscle to produce facial expressions depends on the latter type of attachment. Some muscles are connected to a broad sheetlike tendon called an aponeurosis6 (AP-oh-new-RO-sis). This term originally referred to the tendon located beneath the scalp, but now it also refers to similar tendons associated with certain abdominal, lumbar, hand, and foot muscles (see figs. 10.15a and 10.16).

In some places, groups of tendons from separate muscles pass under a band of connective tissue called a

Saladin: Anatomy & I 10. The Muscular System I Text I © The McGraw-Hill

Physiology: The Unity of Companies, 2003 Form and Function, Third Edition

328 Part Two Support and Movement retinaculum.7 One of these covers each surface of the wrist like a bracelet, for example. The tendons of several forearm muscles pass under them on their way to the hand.

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