You have more than 600 muscles in your body. Some muscles help you move, lift or sit still. Others help you digest food, breathe or see. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood through your body. Many injuries and diseases can affect how the muscles work. To keep your muscles strong, maintain a healthy weight, eat right and exercise regularly.
Muscles are soft tissues. Many stretchy fibers make up your muscles. You have more than 600 muscles in your body. Different types of muscles have different jobs. Some muscles help you run, jump or perform delicate tasks like threading a needle. Other muscles allow you to breathe or digest food. Your heart is a hard-working muscle that beats thousands of times a day.
Many disorders, injuries and diseases can affect how muscles work. These conditions can cause muscle pain, muscle spasms or muscle weakness. More severe disorders can lead to paralysis. Cardiomyopathy and other kinds of heart disease make it difficult for the heart to pump blood through the body.
Living a healthy lifestyle helps your muscles work like they should. You can keep your muscles strong by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. Be sure to see your provider regularly to screen for diseases and conditions that can lead to muscle problems.
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You control some muscles voluntarily with the help of your nervous system (your body’s command center). You make them move by thinking about moving them.
Other muscles work involuntarily, which means you can’t control them. They do their job automatically. In order to work, they take cues from other body systems, such as your digestive system or cardiovascular system.
There are three types of muscle tissue in the body. They are:
Muscles play a role in nearly every system and function of the body. Different kinds of muscles help with:
All types of muscle tissue look similar. But there are slight differences in their appearance:
A wide range of disorders, diseases, drugs and injuries can cause problems with how the muscles work. They include:
Many people have sore muscles after working out. The soreness results from tiny tears (microtears) that happen when you put stress on a muscle. Usually, muscle soreness sets in a day or two after vigorous exercise. This is why providers call this condition delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
As the muscles repair themselves and the tiny tears heal, the muscle tissue becomes inflamed. Within a few days, your muscles recover and the inflammation goes away. With continued exercise, the muscle tissue tears and rebuilds again and again. This process causes muscles to get bigger.
Some of the most common signs of muscle problems include:
Many of these symptoms don’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Muscle pain or weakness often gets better with rest and hydration. If any of these symptoms come on suddenly, talk to your provider right away. Sudden muscle weakness or pain can be signs of a serious health condition.
Depending on your symptoms, your provider may recommend:
To keep your muscles healthy, you should focus on staying healthy overall:
If you have muscle weakness or muscle pain that comes on suddenly, call your provider right away. Get emergency medical help if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, or if you have vision changes, chest pain or problems with balance. These could be signs of a serious health condition.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Your muscles play an essential role in keeping you alive and helping you interact with the world. Some muscles help you see, hear and move. Others are responsible for helping you breathe or digest food. Everyone loses some muscle mass with age. To keep your muscles working properly, you should maintain a healthy weight, get plenty of exercise and eat a balanced diet. See your provider for regular screenings that can detect health problems that may lead to muscle problems.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/29/2021.
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