Properties of skeletal muscle

Skeletal muscle possesses four essential properties:

  • Excitability: this refers to muscle tissue being able to react to nervous stimulation.
  • Extensibility: this refers to the ability of muscle tissue to lengthen when contracting and provide the effort required to move the lever system (the bones and joints), producing coordinated movement.
  • Elasticity: this refers to the ability of muscle tissue to return to its normal resting length once it has been stretched. A useful analogy is that of an elastic band, that will always resume its resting shape after it has been stretched. This property enables the muscle to prepare for a series of repeated contractions, which is normally required when performing exercise or sport.
  • Contractility: this refers to the capacity of a muscle to contract or shorten forcibly when stimulated by nerves and hormones (excitability).

All these properties are essential for all body actions including movement and posture.