Examples of Skeletal Muscles, Their Function and Characteristics

, Staff Writer
Updated July 6, 2021
skeletal muscles function characteristics
    skeletal muscles function characteristics
    decade3d / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

Skeletal muscles, also called striated muscles, are voluntary muscles that move the bones and support the skeleton. Superficial muscles are close to the skin and deep muscles are deeper inside the body. There are 640 skeletal muscles and almost all are found in pairs. Explore skeletal muscle function along with several skeletal muscle examples.

What Are the Skeletal Muscles?

Your body is full of muscles. However, the skeletal muscles are the ones that help you move. When you are running down the road or driving your car, you can thank your skeletal muscles. Since skeletal muscles are for movement, these are considered voluntary muscles, unlike the involuntary cardiac muscles. So when you use skeletal muscles, you are controlling them.

Since skeletal muscles are all about movement, you typically find these muscles in pairs or groups. For example, 7 muscles work together to control the movement of the eyes. There are also 4 muscles that work together to control the movement of the quadriceps.


Skeletal Muscles in the Human Body

The human body is full of skeletal muscles. How many skeletal muscles are in the human body? The answer is more than 600. Each muscle has a different function and helps with movement. Get the answer to, “Where is the skeletal muscle is found” by looking at a breakdown of the different skeletal muscles in your body.

Skeletal Muscles of the Arm

Every time you type a word on your smartphone or do a chin-up at the gym, the skeletal muscles of your arm need to move. From your bicep down into your wrist, your skeletal arm muscles run down the length of your arm. Some are short and thick, and others are long and thin. They are responsible for the bending, retracting and twisting of your arm and wrist.

A few of the muscles you use regularly include:

  • coracobrachialis

  • biceps brachii

  • brachialis anticus

  • triceps brachii

  • anconeus

  • pronator teres

  • flexor carpi radialis

  • palmaris longus

  • flexor carpi ulnaris

  • flexor digitorum superficialis

  • pronator quadratus

  • flexor digitorum profundus

  • flexor pollicis longus

  • brachioradialis

  • extensor carpi radialis longus

  • extensor carpi radialis brevis

  • extensor digitorum

  • extensor digiti minimi

  • extensor carpi ulnaris

  • supinator

  • abductor pollicis longus

  • extensor pollicis brevis

  • extensor pollicis longus

  • extensor indicis


Skeletal Muscles of the Hand

Scrolling on your cellphone wouldn’t be possible without the muscles of your hands. They help you to flex your fingers and thumbs, control movements and retract your figures in a thought. You can see a few of these muscles in the list below.

  • opponens pollicis

  • flexor pollicis brevis

  • abductor pollicis brevis

  • adductor pollicis

  • palmaris brevis

  • abductor digiti minimi

  • flexor digiti minimi brevis

  • opponens digiti minimi

  • lumbricals

  • dorsal interossei

  • palmar interossei

Skeletal Muscles of the Chest

The skeletal muscles of the chest work to help you breathe in and out. They also keep your ribs and bones in the proper position, in addition to protecting your vital organs like your heart. Several of these muscles work in pairs and layers to effectively protect and stabilize your chest.

  • external intercostals

  • internal intercostals

  • innermost intercostal

  • Subcostales

  • transversus thoracis

  • levatores costarum

  • serratus posterior inferior

  • serratus posterior superior

  • thoracic diaphragm


Skeletal Muscles of the Larynx

Speaking isn’t something you could do without your skeletal muscles. They are strategically positioned around your larynx to help you create different sounds and talk. If these muscles were destroyed, you wouldn’t be able to speak.

  • cricothyroid

  • posterior cricoarytenoid muscles

  • lateral cricoarytenoid

  • arytenoid

  • thyroarytenoid

Skeletal Muscles of the Leg

The muscles of your leg run from your knee to your calf. They control everything from bending your knee to rotating your ankle. They are also responsible for all the different movements of your foot, which is important for walking. Take a look at the skeletal muscles of the leg.

skeletal muscles of the leg
    skeletal muscles of the leg
    shoo_arts / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license
  • tibialis anterior

  • extensor hallucis longus

  • extensor digitorum longus

  • fibularis tertius

  • triceps surae

  • gastrocnemius

  • soleus

  • plantaris

  • popliteus

  • flexor hallucis longus

  • flexor digitorum longus i

  • tibialis posterior

  • fibularis longus

  • fibularis brevis

  • sextensor digitorum brevis

  • extensor hallucis brevis


Skeletal Muscles of the Thigh

When it comes to your thigh muscles, the quadriceps femoris is an important one. It’s the largest muscle in your body and a powerhouse in helping you move. You also have several other skeletal muscles for everything from moving your hips to holding your leg bone, knee and hip in place.

The main players of the thigh muscles include:

  • sartorius

  • quadriceps femoris

  • rectus femoris

  • vastus lateralis

  • vastus intermedius

  • vastus medialis

  • articularis genus

  • biceps femoris

  • semitendinosus

  • semimembranosus

  • gracilis

  • pectineus

  • pectineus

  • adductor longus

  • adductor magnus

Skeletal Muscles of the Neck

You have skeletal muscles running all along your neck. These muscles not only allow you to rotate your neck, but they aid in swallowing, so you don’t choke. The muscles that help you chew, make up the bottom of the mouth and attach to your scapula are found in this group.

  • platysma

  • ternocleidomastoid

  • digastric

  • stylohyoid

  • mylohyoid

  • geniohyoid

  • sternohyoid

  • sternothyreoideus

  • thyrohyoid

  • omohyoid

  • longus colli

  • longus capitis

  • rectus capitis anterior

  • rectus capitis lateralis

  • scalenus anterior

  • calenus medius

  • scalenus posterior


Skeletal Muscles of the Scalp and Eyes

From the movement of your eyes to raising your eyebrows, everything is controlled by the skeletal muscles of the eyes and scalp. You even have muscles in your eyes to dilate your pupil and help you see in the dark. Explore the list of the scalp and eye skeletal muscle examples.

  • occipitofrontalis

  • corrugator supercilii

  • depressor supercilii

  • levator palpebrae superioris

  • superior tarsal

  • superior rectus

  • inferior rectus

  • medial rectus

  • lateral rectus

  • superior oblique

  • obliquus oculi

  • ciliary

  • iris dilator

  • iris sphincter

Skeletal Muscles of the Vertebral Column

If you run your finger down your back, you can feel the vertebrae. You have several muscles in that area that help you tilt your head, extend your back and move your shoulders up and down. See the names of a few of them.

  • trapezius

  • latissimus dorsi

  • rhomboid major

  • rhomboid minor

  • levator scapulae


Skeletal Muscles of the Abdomen

Everyone likes a good set of abs. Well, you wouldn’t have them if it weren’t for the work of the muscles in your abdomen. They do everything from help you sit up to support your abdominal wall. The muscle you need for twerking is even found in this group.

skeletal muscles of the abdomen
    skeletal muscles of the abdomen
    shoo_arts / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license
  • external oblique

  • internal oblique

  • transversus abdominis

  • rectus abdominis

  • pyramidalis

  • cremaster

  • quadratus lumborum

Skeletal Muscles of the Nose

When you sniff a flower, you are using the skeletal muscles of your nose. These muscles are pivotal in flaring your nostrils and the movement of your sniffer.

  • procerus

  • nasalis

  • dilator naris

  • depressor septi

  • levator labii superioris alaeque nasi

Skeletal Muscles of the Mouth

An expression can say a million words, right? Well, it takes a few muscles to accomplish that. The skeletal muscles of the mouth work to help you chew food and make facial expressions. Everything from your smile to your look of surprise is because you have a few facial skeletal muscles on your side. Some of the major players in your snarky expression include these muscles.

  • levator anguli oris

  • depressor anguli oris

  • evator labii superioris

  • depressor labii inferioris

  • zygomatic major

  • zygomaticus minor

  • mentalis

  • buccinator

  • orbicularis oris

  • risorius


Skeletal Muscles of the Tongue

You might think your tongue is just for tasting, but it plays a large part in your speech. Being able to move, flatten, roll, and lift your tongue helps you say words and eat food. A few of the major skeletal muscles working in your tongue are these muscles.

  • genioglossus

  • hyoglossus

  • chondroglossus

  • styloglossus

  • superior longitudinal

  • transversus linguæ

  • inferior longitudinal

Skeletal Muscles of the Pharynx

The process of swallowing your food takes a few different muscles. And the skeletal muscles of the pharynx are a key player. Not only do they support and make up the pharynx, but they also help you to project sound when you speak and push food through your esophagus.

  • inferior pharyngeal constrictor

  • middle pharyngeal constrictor

  • superior pharyngeal constrictor

  • stylopharyngeus

  • Salpingopharyngeus


Skeletal Muscles of the Back

You might not realize how important the muscles of your back are until you hurt one of them. Then, you’ll quickly realize that the muscles of your back are the ones that create movement. From bending over to pick up that spoon to sitting down in your car, the back muscles keep you going. They also play a role in the movement of your hips, along with supporting all your precious bones. See a list of muscles found in your back.

skeletal muscles of the back
    skeletal muscles of the back
    shoo_arts / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license
  • splenius capitis

  • splenius cervicis

  • iliocostalis

  • longissimus

  • latissimus dorsi

  • semispinalis dorsi

  • semispinalis cervicis

  • semispinalis capitis

  • multifidus

  • rotatores

  • intertransversarii

  • obliquus capitis inferior

  • obliquus capitis superior

Skeletal Muscle Examples

If you’ve ever hurt one of your skeletal muscles, you know just how important they are. From the tips of your toes to the movement of your eyebrows, they are there for it all. Now that you’ve looked at skeletal muscle examples, check out the smooth muscles of your body.