Time to flex your brain muscles.

Please note: You can't actually flex your brain as it's not a muscle. It's an organ. But you can "exercise" it by learning new things.

 I took this photo while at the Portland Art Museum. It's by Dirk Staschke and was my favorite piece, naturally.

I took this photo while at the Portland Art Museum. It's by Dirk Staschke and was my favorite piece, naturally.

How well do you know human anatomy? Is it something you need to know as part of your profession or is it something that you’ve learned for the fun of it? I remember first learning basic anatomy in middle school when a relative was going through medical assistant training. It was my job to quiz her and I can recall quizzing myself as we went along, trying to name a bone or muscle in my head before the answer was looked at or given to me. Learning the bones was neat and important but it was learning the muscles, and some choice medical terms, that really stuck with me. Some particularly sassy day I told my Hebrew language teacher that she was “a myalgia in my gluteus maximus” and though she didn’t quite know what that phrase meant, she knew enough to catch the inappropriate tone and body language I sent her way.

Fast forward some 15 odd years later and that meant taking anatomy was a fun refresher when I was in school for massage. What I found particularly interesting was learning the actions each muscle takes in the body and how they work in conjunction to keep us upright and moving freely. One muscle can start an action at a joint and then at a certain point, another muscle (or group) take over to complete it. Before sitting in classes specific to anatomy and kinesiology there was never a second thought given as to how I was able to raise my arms out the side; I just did it.

It was learning fun little facts that kept me engaged and craving more. Did you know that 11% of the population don’t have the palmaris longus muscle? Or that only 5% have the sternalis muscle? Good bit of trivia there! Or how about the hamstrings? They are a group of three muscles with individual names. Again, not something I knew before school but after starting to learn some really basic information about the body I wanted to learn more, to absorb more.

Now I present to you a little blog series I’ll be working on over the next I don’t know how long. Every so often I will take a muscle or muscle group and talk about where it is, what it does, hopefully some fun fact or mnemonic for easy memorization, and how to keep it happy. I'd love for you to follow along and learn something new or perhaps refresh your memory. Ask questions, suggest muscles to discuss, tell your friends. Let’s get nerdy.