What are the three types of muscle tissue?

Oct 23, 2015

Muscle tissue can be of three types:  skeletal, cardiac, and smooth. Skeletal muscle is attached directly or indirectly to the bone and facilitates movement and/or gives support to the body. From an economic standpoint, skeletal muscle is the most important and it is the major component of the carcass. Cardiac, as the name implies, is the muscle which forms the heart. Smooth muscles, also called visceral muscles, are found in the digestive and reproductive tracts as well as throughout the blood vessels, capillaries and arteries of the circulatory system.

Skeletal muscles differ in length, in depth and in thickness. Each muscle is interspersed with connective tissue and fat and is surrounded by connective tissue (called the epimysium or muscle sheath) which may vary in thickness over different parts of the muscle.

A single muscle is made up of many “bundles” (or fasciculi) of muscle cells or fibers held together by connective tissue (perimysium). The size of the bundles varies in different muscles in the same animal and in different species. When the fiber bundles are small, the meat has a fine grain.  

The muscle fibers which make up the bundles are elongated, multinucleated cells which have an outer covering known as the sarcolemma.  Muscle fibers vary greatly in length and have an average diameter of about 0.0002 inch.    

Muscles that are used for locomotion and power (e.g., in the legs and shoulders) have more connective tissue and yield less tender meat. The muscles of support (e.g., those in the back—rib and loin) move less, are not as important for locomotion or power, and are more tender. Other muscles, such as those in the portion of the shoulder nearest the rib, in the rump, and in the upper portion of the hind leg, provide moderately tender meat.  

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