Part One – Introduction to Anatomy

By Bonny Anderson

First, an apology, this post is not specifically about the knee! I decided that to understand an injury of any part of the body, you first need to understand the anatomy. Specifics on the knee joint and information on common knee injuries in skaters will be up next.

So to begin, what does the word anatomy mean? It is typically used to describe the structures of the body that can be seen without the use of a microscope. Anatomy is the basis of medicine practice, it is how any medical practitioner will analyse clinical signs and work towards an understanding of disease or clinical presentation and therefore a diagnosis. As a physiotherapist it is vital to have an excellent understanding of the anatomy to aid in correct interpretation of the clinical analysis (basically to recognise signs and symptoms and figure out what is going on.)

The anatomy that is predominantly important to musculoskeletal physiotherapy involves the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and the nervous system (the brain and nerves). The adult human body contains approximately: 206 bones, 360 joints, 650 skeletal muscles and hundreds of tendons and ligaments. I am pretty sure you all have a general idea of what I mean when I say ‘bone’; you have all seen the bone of a chicken drumstick I presume! As for the other terms, I will explain a little bit more just to clarify any misconceptions.


  • A part of the body where two bones come together. There are many different types of joints in the body- if I go into detail about these I will fill up the whole blog!


There are 3 different types of muscle found in the body:

  • Skeletal muscle: the muscles in the body that are used to move the bones
  • Cardiac muscle: striated muscle found only in the walls of the heart
  • Smooth muscle: capable of slow and sustained contractions and found in walls of blood vessels, structures of the gastrointestinal, respiratory, genitourinary and urogenital systems.


  • Made up of 70% collagen and some elastin and allow for the attachment of muscle to bone. They have a limited blood supply which means they are slow to heal when damaged.


  • Allow for the attachment of bone to bone within a joint structure. These are also predominantly made up of collagen and therefore have a limited blood supply and are poor at healing.

Nervous system:

Two different systems:

  • Central nervous system: Brain and spinal cord. The brain sends signals down through the spinal cord to the peripheral nerves.
  • Peripheral nervous system: Nerves in the body that attach from the spinal cord. The nerves receive signals from the brain via the spinal cord that result in contraction of muscles and therefore movement of the limbs.

These explanations are very simple. The body is so complex and there is a lot more involved in each structure of the body. If you wish to know more in depth of any of these systems feel free to ask, if not then you are ready for the next instalment!

Stay tuned for Part two: Introduction to the knee joint.

Macarena and Bonny