Skeletal muscles are the engines of the body. They account for over a quarter of its weight and the major part of its energy expenditure. They are attached to the bones of the skeleton and so serve to produce movements or exert forces. Hence they are used in such activities as locomotion, maintenance of posture, breathing, eating, directing the gaze and producing gestures and facial expressions.
Skeletal muscles are activated by motoneurons as we have seen in previous chapters. Their cells are elongate and multinuclear and the contractile material within them shows cross-striations, hence skeletal muscle is a form of striated muscle. In contrast, cardiac and smooth muscles have cells with single nuclei, and smooth muscles are not striated; we shall examine their properties in a later chapter.
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