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A Handbook of Health by Woods Hutchinson

To make it firmer and stiffen it for movement


when we play or run or work, we are not only exercising our muscles and making them gain strength and skill, but we are stirring up, or stimulating, almost every part of our body to more vigorous and healthful action.

Indeed, as our muscles alone, of all our body stuffs, are under the control of the will, our only means of deliberately improving our appetites, or strengthening our hearts or circulation, or invigorating our lungs, or causing a large part of our brains and minds to grow and develop, is through muscular exercise. This is why nature has taken care to make us all so exceedingly fond of play, games, and sports of all sorts, in the open air, when we are young; and, as we grow older, to enjoy working hard and fighting and "hustling," as we say; and that is the reason, also, why we are now making muscular exercise such an important part of education.


[22] The muscle does not get any bigger when it contracts, as was at one time supposed; if you were to plunge it into a bath of water, and then cause it to contract, you would find that it did not raise the level of the water, showing that it was of exactly the same size as before, having lost as much in length as it gained in thickness.

[23] In the leg below the knee, and in the forearm, we have two groups of "benders" or _flexors_, and "straighteners" or _extensors_, as in

the upper arm and leg, only slenderer and more numerous. They taper down into cord-like tendons at the wrist and ankle to fasten and to pull the hands and feet "open" and "shut," just as do the strings in the legs and arms of a puppet or mechanical doll, or the sinews in the foot of a chicken.



What Bones Are. The bones are not the solid foundation and framework upon which the body is built, as they are usually described. They are simply a framework of rods and plates which "petrified," or turned into spongy limestone after the body was built, to make it firmer and stiffen it for movement. All the animals below the fishes, such as worms, sea-anemones, oysters, clams, and insects, get along very well without any bones at all; and when we are born, our bones, which haven't fully "set" yet, are still gristly and soft. The cores of the limbs, as they begin to stiffen, first turn into gristle, or cartilage, and later into bone; indeed, many of our bones remain gristle in parts until we are fifteen or sixteen years of age. This is why children's bones, being softer and more flexible than those of grown-up people, are not so liable to break or snap across when they fall or tumble about; and why, too, they are more easily warped or bent out of shape through lack of proper muscular exercise and proper food.

Bones are strips of soft body-stuff soaked with lime and hardened, like bricklayer's mortar, or concrete.[24] When you know the shape of the body, you know the bones; for they simply form a shell over the head and run like cores, or piths, down the centre of the back, and down each joint of the limbs.

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