Your eyes, heart, masseter, and tongue may all be considered the largest in your body. Each muscle gives us insight into how our body functions and helps figure out how to stay healthy.
The largest muscle in the body is the gluteus maximus. Located at the back of the hip, it is also known as the buttocks. It is one of the three gluteal muscles:
The primary functions of your gluteus maximus are hip external rotation and hip extension. You use it when you:
- stand up from a sitting position
- climb stairs
- hold yourself in a standing position
As a human, you have more than 600 muscles in your body. Now that you know which one is the largest, let’s take a look at the:
- most active
- hardest working
- most unusual
Your middle ear is home to the smallest muscle. Less than 1 millimeter long, the stapedius controls the vibration of the smallest bone in the body, the stapes, also known as the stirrup bone. The stapedius helps protect the inner ear from loud noises.
The longest muscle in your body is the sartorius, a long thin muscle that runs down the length of the upper thigh, crossing the leg down to the inside of the knee. The primary functions of the sartorious are knee flexion and hip flexion and adduction.
The widest muscle in your body is the latissimus dorsi, also known as your lats. Your latissimus dorsi have a fan-like shape. They originate in the lower and middle portion of your back and attach on the inner aspect of your humerus (upper arm bone).
Your lats, working in conjunction with other muscles, enable a range of shoulder movements. They also assist with deep breathing.
Your strongest muscle is a bit more difficult to identify, because there are many types of strength, such as:
- absolute strength
- dynamic strength
- strength endurance
Based on absolute strength, the ability to generate maximum force, your strongest muscle is your masseter. With one located on each side of your jaw, they lift the lower jaw (mandible) to close your mouth.
The primary function of your masseter is mastication (chewing), working with three other muscles, the temporalis, lateral pterygoid, and medial pterygoid.
When all the muscles of your jaw are working together, you can close your teeth with a force as great as 200 pounds on your molars or 55 pounds on your incisors, say researchers at the Library of Congress. Maximum bite force is higher in men than in women.
The muscles of the eye are your most active muscles, constantly moving to readjust the position of your eyes. Not only do you blink 15 to 20 times a minute on average, but as your head moves, the eye muscles are constantly adjusting the position of the eye to maintain a steady point of fixation point.
When reading a book for one hour, your eyes will make close to 10,000 coordinated movements, say researchers at the Library of Congress.
And according to the Dr. Burton Kushner, a professor emeritus of ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin, your eye muscles are more than 100 times stronger than they need to be.
Every day, your heart pumps a minimum of 2,500 gallons of blood through a system that includes over 60,000 miles of blood vessels. Your hard-working heart has the ability to beat over 3 billion times during your lifetime.
Your tongue is unlike any other muscle. Among other things, your tongue is the only muscle in your body that can actively contract and extend. It is also your only muscle that isn’t connected to bone at both ends. The tip of your tongue is the part of your body that is most sensitive to touch.
Actually a set of eight muscles, your tongue is incredibly movable, allowing you to speak, suck or swallow in a coordinated way.
Its ability to move in all directions is enabled by the unique way the muscle fibers are arranged, running in all three directions: from front to back, from the sides to the middle, and from top to bottom.
Your versatile tongue is necessary for:
- tasting food with its
2,000 to 4,000 taste buds
- speech, as it’s essential for pronouncing consonants
Your body is an incredible and complicated biological machine. Looking specifically at some of our different parts and asking questions, such as, “What is the largest muscle in the body?” gives us insight into how our body functions and, ultimately, how to keep it healthy.