Our musculoskeletal system is composed of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints and other connective tissues. It acts as the supporting framework to our bodies, providing stability, structure, movement and agility.
Musculoskeletal health is particularly important as we progress into our later years, as it is a time when loss of muscle and bone strength can occur naturally. A strong musculoskeletal system helps in the prevention of injury and in optimal recovery following surgery. It is also significant throughout life for the prevention of injury or for optimal recovery following surgery.
Our bones are living tissues, composed of bone marrow and a matrix of mineral-based fibres. Bone marrow plays a role in blood production, while collagen (the main protein in bone) and minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, contribute to bone structure and strength. Both childhood and the adolescent years are critical stages for bone growth and development, setting the foundations for life. Throughout life, our bones constantly undergo a natural process of ‘remodelling’ where old bone is replaced by new bone. The ability to remodel bone naturally slows down as we age. This can contribute to age-related bone loss, making bone health a priority throughout life.
Our joints allow us to bend our knees and elbows, twist our hips and turn our heads so that we can perform everyday movements such as walking, putting on our shoes or dancing around the kitchen! The cartilage and other joint tissue reduce friction occurring between our bones by acting as a cushion to help absorb any impact during movement. Maintaining a healthy body weight and having strong muscles can help to alleviate pressure and wear and tear on our joints.
Keeping muscles healthy is not just a task for athletes; we need our muscles to perform everyday activities such as housework or going up the stairs. A focus on building and maintaining muscle throughout life can help us to stay strong, active and independent, particularly as we age. Our muscles are vital for movement, supporting our skeleton and positioning our posture, but they also play a vital role in our metabolism. Having an adequate muscle mass can help to improve disease outcomes so it is particularly important at times of illness, injury or following surgery.