Everybody has a couple of hundred bones and several hundred muscles throughout his body. They keep us all together and give us our shape. Without them we might look like a jellyfish, or a ball of putty or clay.
When we were tiny, our bones were kind of soft-so soft, as a matter of fact, that we could neither stand nor walk. And even though the muscles in our legs were able to work perfectly, they weren’t yet strong enough to hold our young bodies if we tried to stand. Our bones start to grow and they harden quickly, and by the time we were a little more than one year old, we were able to stand up and walk by ourself. The bones and muscles of our hands and arms, too, grew and developed so that we could pick up things by ourselves and could feed ourselves without help. Eventually we learned to dress all by ourselves. And most of us became pretty good at throwing and catching balls after we reached five or six years of age.
A human baby, however, grows into a little child who soon learns to use his hands and feet, and most other muscles and bones, in many ways that an animal can’t. Muscles are able to get longer or shorter almost like an elastic rubber band. When they contract and get hard, they become shorter. This happens when you bend your elbow and harden the muscles in your arm. When you straighten out your arm and relax, the muscles get longer and softer.
Every muscle in the body is attached to a bone by a ligament or tendon. It is the tightening (contraction) or the loosening (relaxation) of the muscles and their tendons that pulls on our bones and causes them to move. When you lift your arm, you tighten the muscles in your shoulders; when you drop your arm, you loosen those same muscles.
In order for the muscles to act properly, the nerves that supply them mustt be in good working order. If the nerves don’t work, the muscles cannot tighten or relax.
It is very important that we take good care of our bones and muscles. If we don’t drink enough milk and have too few minerals, such as calcium, in our diet, the bones may not grow the way we want them to. And if bones don’t grow properly, we won’t be as tall as we want to be. The length of our bones decides how tall we will be.
A great many children, at one time or another, break a bone or strain a muscle. Usually, it happens as an accident while running or playing or perhaps falling off a bicycle. Nobody wants that to happen, butt when it does a doctor can almost always fix it so that it will be as good as new again. If a bone is broken, it may be necessary to put it at rest for a few weeks by placing it in a cast. If a muscle or ligament has been torn or strained, it may be necessary to rest that for a few weeks.
A broken arm or leg stops hurting almost the same (lay that the cast is put on. And, fortunately, it doesn’t hurt to take off the cast. For a few days after a cast has been removed, the arm or leg may be a little weak, but it soon gets its usual strength back. A strained muscle or ligament may hurt for a long time, but it, too, even¬tually heals completely.
In many ways, we are much luckier than some of our animal friends. If we exercise regularly and play a lot and eat foods that are good for us, our muscles will become big and powerful. If we lie around the house all day looking at television, or if we don’t play and run and exercise, our muscles may become soft and flabby, and we won’t be very strong.
Here are a few rules to follow to make sure muscles and bones will be healthy:
l. Drink several glasses of milk each day and eat plenty of meats and fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. Don’t cat too much candy and other sweets, as this will make you fat.
3. Exercise regularly, in school and at home, and take part in the games your friends play.
4. Learn to ride a bicycle, to play ball, and to swim, as soon as you are old enough to do so.
5. On nice, sunny days, walk and run a lot, instead of staying around the house doing nothing.
6. Help out with family chores. If you live in a house, help to mow the lawn and rake the leaves; if you live in an apartment, help to keep it neat and clean. These are all good ways to exercise muscles and bones and accomplish something useful at the same time.
7. Dancing is great exercise as well as good fun, and boys, as well as girls, should learn.
Here are some things to remember if someone injures a muscle or bone and seems to be really badly hurt:
1. It is always better to lie flat and wait for a grown-up to help out than it is to try to walk on an injured foot or leg.
2. Whenever an injury affects the neck or back, it is especially important to lie as flatt as a pancake and not try to move. Wait for someone to come and help out.
3. If an arm is hurt, it should held close to the side of the Fwd and moved as little as possible.