Develop an in depth knowledge of human movement.

By understanding of the operation of muscles and nerves, in movements and reactions observed in the body. This course covers: nerves, the nervous system, motor skills, structure and function of skeletal muscle, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. Prerequisites: Human Biology BSC101 or equivalent.

Study Human Movement at home

  • Muscles
  • Bones
  • Nerves

Who should study this?

  • Fitness leaders, sportsmen and women, personal trainers
  • People who are new to health, rehabilitative services or complimentary medicine
  • People with muscle or mobility problems who seek to better understand their body

There are 8 lessons as follows:

  1. How Nerves Work -
    how nerves cause reactions in the human body.
  2. Nerves & Motor Skills -
    how the nervous system affects motor skill performance
  3. Skeletal Muscle -
    function and structure of skeletal muscle in the human body
  4. Muscle Organisation -
    organisation of muscle tissue in the human body
  5. Muscular Movement -
    mechanics of muscular movement
  6. Muscular Development -
    development of muscular strength and muscular endurance.
  7. Muscle Flexibility -
    selecting muscular flexibility exercises
  8. Muscles & Posture -
    significance of muscles to posture and general well being.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain how nerves cause reactions in the human body.
  • Explain how the nervous system affects motor skill performance.
  • Explain the function and structure of skeletal muscle in the human body.
  • Describe the organisation of muscle tissue in the human body.
  • Describe the mechanics of muscular movement.
  • Explain development of muscular strength and muscular endurance.
  • Selecting muscular flexibility exercises.
  • Explain significance of muscles to posture and general well being.

Here are just some of the things you will be doing:

  • Draw a cross section of the spinal cord, and label the anatomical parts.
  • Explain what happens when an electrical stimulus is sent along the central nervous system, by illustrating and labelling the reflex arc.
  • Explain nerve to nerve synapses, during a specific body movement.
  • Explain activity at muscle-nerve junctions, during the specific body movement.
  • Explain how proprioceptors function, during the specific body movement.
  • Explain processes which occur in the nervous system, when a specific muscle moves.
  • Explain the functioning of the following different sensory receptors:

    • smell
    • sound
    • balance
  • Distinguish between the functions of the following different neuroglia:

    • Astrocytes
    • Oligodendrocytes
    • Microglia
    • Ependymal cells
    • Neurolemmocytes
    • Satellite cells
  • Explain how the function of different parts of the brain affect different specific muscular movements in the body.
  • Explain how a specific voluntary skill is learnt by the body.
  • Explain the dampening affect, as exerted through the cerebellum.
  • Explain how the body perceives speed through the nervous system.
  • Explain the operation of tendons, during a specific movement of a limb.
  • Compare the function of motor with sensory fibres in nerves supplying muscles.
  • Compare differences in the structural characteristics of red and white muscle fibres.
  • Summarise events occurring during muscular contraction, at a microscopic level.
  • Explain how muscles of the hand move when you pick up a tennis ball.
  • Prepare diagrams showing the muscles in the back which provide both support and movement for the spinal column.
  • Explain the significance of these muscles to health, wellbeing and mobility.
  • Explain the principle of levers related to an observed muscular movement.
  • Explain the principle of moments related to an observed muscular movement.
  • Explain muscular movements which occur in the observed subjects, when using three different types of exercise machines.
  • Explain three different body movements, in terms of the action of different bones, muscles and nerves; including the movement of a limb in exercise, and the bending of the back, and one hand movement.
  • Distinguish between isotonic, isometric, eccentric and isokinetic contractions.
  • List ways how strength can be maintained and increased.
  • List ways how endurance can be maintained and increased.
  • Explain three different physiological changes which accompany increased strength.
  • Explain the overload principle, related to muscular development.
  • Explain biological processes in force to effect strength and endurance in an athlete observed and interviewed by you.
  • Compare static and dynamic flexibility, in an individual observed by you.
  • Explain the structural limits to flexibility, in three different people of different ages.
  • List ways of developing flexibility in a specific individual.
  • Explain the relationship between flexibility and aspects of performance in a specific case study.
  • Develop an exercise program to develop/maintain flexibility for a person.
  • Submit photos together with comments on the posture of each person you studied. Comment on the age, sex &, occupation of each of these people.
  • How might posture affect general well being, including arthritis and back pain.


The Science of Motor Skills

To perform a task or movement, our brain sends signals to our motor units of individual nerves and collections of muscle fibers at precise intervals to orchestrate the contraction of muscles throughout our body. Learning a motor skill is like writing a computer program to a disk - the program, imprinted on the brain, plays back as a motor reflex. The method of imprinting a motor skill "program" on the brain is repetition. Over time, basic motor skills can be combined and built upon to master more complex skills - just like most things in life once you have the basics it is from there you can build.

Reaction times, limb movement speeds, kinesthesis, sense awareness, balances, mechanical aptitudes and coordination are basic motor skill characteristics. Reaction times measure how quickly someone respond to stimuli. Limb movement speed measure how quickly a person moves limbs between assigned locations. Kinesthesis measures how well someone can replicate assigned body segments alignments. Sense awareness measures how well people perceive minimal stimuli changes. Static and dynamic balance measure how well they stand perfectly still and walk narrow rails. Mechanical aptitudes measure how well someone performs fine hand-eye manipulations. Coordination measures how well people can perform unfamiliar motor skills.

To help understand motors skills and their development, it is important to know that the brain is fairly compartmentalized. The part of the brain that tells the shoulders to move is separate from the part that tells the right thumbs to move. The right side of the brain controls the movements on the left side of the body and vice versa. Therefore, movement of the right shoulder is controlled by a separate area of the brain - from that part that controls the left shoulder. This part of the brain that controls muscle movement is called the "motor strip". The motor strip is separate from the part of the brain that interprets spoken speech, stores vocabulary words, recognizes symbols, signals the urge to breath, and all the other things that we do that we are unaware of doing.

How Motor Skills Develop

In small children, the maturational process occurs fairly predictably from the top down. First head control is gained as the nerves supplying the neck muscles mature and the neck muscles gain strength. The shoulder, upper arms, and hand control improves. Upper body or trunk control is next, then the hips and pelvis, and finally the legs! Because hand movements are so complex, doctors track "fine motor" skills separately from gross motor skills. Balance and coordination are part of gross motor skills although they have more complex controlling systems than just the motor strip.

The familiar order of gross motor development: turning the head from side to side when lying prone on the stomach at two weeks, then lifting the head briefly when prone at two to three months, holding the head upright by four to five months, then raising up the shoulders and upper chest when four to five months. Arm movements also gain some control about age to four to five months as the infant can bring her hands to midline when lying on her back.

After that, she can reach and grab an object and bring it to her mouth. She can hold an object in one hand and transfer it to another by six to seven months. Truncal control allows the baby to sit propped against her outstretched arms about six to seven months with independent sitting by eight to nine months. Finally, pulling up as the signals to the pelvis and thigh muscles increases followed by standing and then walking. After that, signalling continues to be refined and allows the child to run, climb, hop on two feet, then one foot, then skip by age five.

Because gross motor skills are so obvious, these are the ones that people tend to notice the most. But remember, gross motor is only one part of development. If gross motor skills are associated with delays in the other areas of development, this is more concerning for the child's overall well-being. If gross motor skills are the only area that is lagging, this is usually not as concerning for long term well-being.