What is Locomotion?

Locomotion is a functional necessity of the human lifestyle. Parents remember and celebrate the first time their child crawls, creeps, and takes a step, marking this function as a sociocultural milestone. The ability to move independently from one place to another is important to our independence. In a rehabilitation setting, the first question a patient or her family often asks is, when the patient can walk again.

Locomotion develops across the life span from crawling to rolling and creeping to erect walking to running, hopping, galloping and skipping. The transition from one to another form of locomotion depends on multiple factors. The interactions of the tasks to be accomplished, body systems function, and the environment in which the behaviour is to be produced. 

The change in locomotor patterns throughout a life span chart is a bell curve, first becoming more efficient and then slowly and potentially becoming less efficient and safe. The challenges of locomotion for the older adult may include falling, which presents a health risk and negatively impacts the quality of life. 

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The Types of Locomotor Movements

There are three major types in the human body movement; these are amoeboid, ciliary and muscular. Specialised cells in the body such as macrophages and leukocytes in the bloodstream exhibit amoeboid movement. It is affected by a pseudopodia formed via the streaming of protoplasm. 

Cytoskeletal elements such as microfilaments are involved in the amoeboid movement as well. Ciliary movement takes place in most of our internal tubular organs which are lined by ciliated epithelium. The coordinated movements of cilia in the tracheal tract helps in eliminating dust particles and some foreign substances that are inhaled along with the atmospheric air. The passage of the ova through the female reproductive tract is also assisted by the ciliary movement.

Movement of our limbs, jaws, tongue and other organs need muscular movement. The contractile property of muscles is used for locomotion and other movements by human beings and the majority of multicellular organisms. Locomotion requires well-coordinated activity of muscular, skeletal and neural systems. 

The Human Locomotory Organ

The musculoskeletal system in the human body which is also known as the locomotor system organises locomotion in human beings. Through various muscles and the skeletal structure, it gives humans the ability to move. The musculoskeletal system provides support, form, movement, and stability of the body.

Human Skeleton and Locomotion

The skeleton system of the human body plays an important role in the locomotion of the human body. Locomotion depends on the association of the skeletal muscles present within the skeletal system. The system has some rigid forms of connective tissues called bones. Below is a summary of how the skeletal system works: 

  • The skeletal system offers shape and posture to the human body.

  • The muscles of the skeletal system provide a framework for the body.

  • It offers a rigid surface for muscles to attach with the tendons.

  • It imparts a type of protection to the internal organs of the human body that are delicate, for example, the brain, spinal cord, the lungs etc.

  • The skeletal system assists the body with locomotory movements from one place to another

  • The skeletal system helps in the movement of the sternum and the ribs, thus helping in the process of breathing.

Human Body Muscles Involved in Locomotion

Based on elasticity, excitability and extensibility, there are three types of muscles involved in human locomotion. The human locomotion muscle names are

  1. Skeletal muscles

  2. Smooth muscles

  3. Cardiac muscles

Skeletal Muscles: These are involuntary muscles and are not controlled by the human body. These muscles are present in legs, neck, face etc. They can also be observed attached to bones and tendons. Tendons help in different types of movements of the skeleton and body parts. Skeletal muscles are striated and they are mainly responsible for the movement and the body.

Smooth Muscles: These are also involuntary muscles and do not come under the direct control of the human body. They arise from the autonomic nervous system and are not striated. Smooth muscles can be observed in the reproductive tract, alimentary canal, blood vessels and assist in movements through the tube-like structures of internal organs.

Cardiac Muscles:  These muscles are generally observed in the heart and are striated. They are involuntary and assist in the workings of the heart, for example, the pumping of blood throughout the body. 

Importance of Locomotion in Humans

Locomotion helps us in running through various conditions of the environment around us. The movement of limbs, trunk and head helps in changing posture of the human body and maintain equilibrium against gravity. 

The movement of involuntary muscles such as the cardiac muscles observed in the heart maintains the circulation of blood throughout the body. The movement and locomotion of body parts are carried out by specialised muscles that are muscular and non-muscular by nature. Human locomotory movement involves the interaction and movements of tissues and joints such as cartilage, muscles, ligaments, bones etc.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: What is Meant by Locomotion?

Locomotion: In simple terms, locomotion means the ability of moving from one place to another. The human walk has been explained as striding and is considered as a mode of locomotion defining a special pattern of behaviour and a special morphology. It is also referred to as bipedalism. 

Q2: What is Meant by a Locomotory?

Locomotory Meaning: In medical terms, locomotory means an organ having the power of locomotion. Examples of locomotory organs are flagella, cilia, pseudopodia etc. With respect to locomotion, locomotory movements primarily include the usage of feet for support. However, a human can travel using other parts of  the body such as the hands and feet.

Q3: Write a Note on Skeleton Movement and Location with Respect to Locomotion Muscles

Please refer to the section above.