Did you know that the human skeleton has 206 bones! It’s no wonder that the skeletal system accounts for almost a quarter of a person’s body weight. Let’s take a look at your skeletal system and ways to help it function optimally.

What is the skeletal system?

The skeletal system is made up of bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. Bones make up the frame that supports the body. Ligaments connect bones to one another, cartilage provides a smooth coating on the bone for movement, and tendons connect your bones to your muscles.

What is the function of the skeletal system?

Its primary function is to hold you up! The skeletal system provides support for the body. The skeletal system has two major bone groups: the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton.

The axial skeleton contains 80 bones, including the bones of the skull, face, neck, back, and ribcage. Its function is to support and protect the brain, spinal cord, and internal organs including the heart and lungs. The remaining 126 bones form the appendicular skeleton, including bones of the arms, legs, pectoral and pelvic girdles. Its function is movement (lower limbs) and grasping/manipulating objects (upper limbs).

The skeletal system also has other important functions, including, producing blood cells, storing and releasing fat, and storing and releasing minerals.

What conditions can affect bone health?

Different conditions can affect the health of your bones and skeletal system. Some common conditions include:

Five tips for healthy bones

There are five simple steps you can take to maintain healthy bones:

  1. Make sure you get enough calcium by regularly consuming calcium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, broccoli, dairy, tofu, and fish. Most of the body’s supply of calcium is stored in our bones.
  2. A dose of vitamin D – spend some time outdoors and discuss with your GP about taking a supplement during winter if you live in a cold climate (however, this may not be necessary).
  3. Do weight-bearing exercise and strength training regularly.
  4. Protect your bones from injury by wearing protective gear when riding a bike, or playing contact sports.
  5. Book in to see your osteopath! Osteopaths use physical manipulation, massage and gentle stretching to promote healing, increase joint mobility, relieve muscle tension, reduce pain, and increase blood flow to the tissues.

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