Soon to be medical professionals are intimidated by the not so usual name of muscles and body parts; even the most little of detail is being scrutinized and named with some sort of tongue twister test of memory. Luckily, there are some ways of simplifying and remembering a specific name and in this article we will focus on the naming of muscles.
Naming of Skeletal Muscles
A number of criteria is put into consideration when naming certain group of muscles. These criteria may either involve the location of the muscle or the specific action that it does. Paying attention to these cues makes the daunting task of learning the names of muscles more easy.
As stated earlier, some muscles are named in relation to its body region or the bone it is associated, hence comes the first criteria which is location of the muscle. An example of this type of naming is the temporalis muscle, which by the name tells us that it is located over the temporal bone. Another example of this is the very obvious intercostal muscles, which literally translates to “between the ribs”.
We already know that the different muscles in our body don’t exactly look the same. With this premise, some names are derived from shapes of the muscle. To put into context, the deltoid muscle is named because of its triangular shape. Also, the trapezius muscles, both the left and right, are named because of their distinct trapezoid shape.
Some names of muscles are easy to remember or picture out because of the words minimus (which means smallest) and maximus (which means largest) which are referring to the relative size of the muscle. Examples with this type of name are the gluteus maximus and also the gluteus minimus, which literally translates to “large and small muscles of the gluteus”.
Another way employed in naming muscles is with regards to the direction of muscle fibres. Words like rectus and transversus all offer clues as to what the arrangement of muscle fibres are. An example of this would be the rectus femoris muscle, which when translated means the straight muscles of the thigh. Also with the same concept is the transversus abdominis which means the transverse muscles of the abdomen.
Does the word biceps or triceps or maybe quadriceps ring a bell? These muscle groups are name according to their number of origins. Biceps muscles have 2 origins, triceps have 3 and quadriceps has 4.
For muscle that are quite long and involve a number of other criteria, the process of naming them involved the location of the attachments. A classic example would be the sternocleidomastoid found in the neck. This specific muscle has two origins, the sternum and the clavicle. Since the rule of this naming is that the origin is always named first, hence the word sternocleido in the name. The muscle continues and attached to the mastoid process found in the temporal bone, making up for the mastoid part of the name.
Another easy way of trying to remember the name of a muscle is to remember its functions or actions it does. Clues such as flexor, extensor and adductor give you an idea as to what the muscles do.