Functions of the skeletal system

The human skeleton is made up of 206 bones, and is specifically designed to provide several basic functions. These basic functions are essential for everyday life and allow participation in physical activity.

  1. Support: the skeleton provides a rigid framework for the body. It gives the body shape and provides the sites for attachment of skeletal muscle. The skeleton supports the organs and tissues of the body, without which, they would collapse under their own weight. For example, the firm construction of the thorax allows breathing to take place.
  2. Protection: the skeleton provides protection for the internal organs. Examples include the ribcage protecting the heart and lungs; the vertebral column protects the spinal cord; the orbits protect the eyes; and the cranium protects the brain.
  3. Movement: we need a sophisticated system of joints and levers capable of producing a wide range of movements in order to perform the sophisticated movements required by many sports. The bones of the skeleton allow the attachment of muscles, and the long bones provide a system of levers against which the muscles can pull.
  4. Blood production: bone marrow, within the bones, produces both red and white blood cells. Red blood cells are generally produced at the ends of long bones and in some flat bones. White blood cells are generally produced in the shafts of long bones.
  5. Mineral storage: the bones of the skeleton have storage capabilities for essential minerals including calcium and phosphorus. These can be distributed to other parts of the body when needed.