1.1 Basics of Muscle Anatomy

Parisi coaches should have a basic understanding of human anatomy. This section will recap the basics of muscle anatomy as to better understand movement, training prescription and injury mitigation.

Every type of muscle tissue has a unique structure and a specific role. Skeletal muscle is responsible for the ability to create movement by contracting. This in essence allows the body to move. While muscles are touted as the star of most fitness and sports performance training programs, they work in a symphony-like fashion with the nervous, fascia, lymphatic and energy systems of the body.

Muscle tissue is categorized into three distinct types: skeletal, cardiac and smooth. Skeletal muscle moves bones and other structures, cardiac muscle contracts the heart to pump the blood and smooth muscle is the tissue that forms our organs.

Skeletal muscle is the engine and foundation for movement. It is also the only muscle type that is under voluntary control by way of the nervous system. It is attached to the bones by tendons. The tissue itself is composed of integrated bundles of muscle and nerve fibers, blood vessels and connective fascia tissue. While there are several layers of connective tissue, the epimysium is the dense sheath of connective tissue that increases the muscle’s ability to contract, while maintaining stability and protecting it from friction by other muscles and bones.

Muscle fibers are organized into bundles called fascicles which are surrounded by another layer of connective tissue called the perimysium. It contains mostly collagen and serves to communicate with the nervous system which signals the muscle. The endomysium is the connective collagenous tissue layer and fibers that surround or encase the muscle fibers themself.

When skeletal muscle fibers contract it creates tension. It is then transferred through the connective fascia tissue and the tendons then articulate the joints resulting in the coordination of muscle stiff- ness using co-contractions. The musculoskeletal and fascia system are intertwined when it comes to producing our movements. The fascia system extends in a web-like fashion throughout the entire body. A deeper dive into the science of fascia has led to a far more prolific understanding of its role in movement. Fascia plays a much larger role in power generation and explosive actions than what was understood 30, 20 and even 10 years ago. As Parisi coaches, it is critical to be familiar with the important role fascia plays in our athlete’s training programs. Our speed and sports performance curriculum is filled with amazing training protocols. However, it is not enough to follow the Parisi system and assign exercises, Parisi coaches must understand why and how they lead to building better athletes.