Foundations for Physiotherapy -Muscles and Movement

Course CodeBSC202
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Muscles and How they Impact Human Movement

  • Gain a sound foundation for understanding muscles, joints and movement in the human body
  • These are things that form a basis for work in physiotherapy, chiropractic, exercise physiology and other disciplines
  • Expand your knowledge of human biology, and expand your career prospects

Develop a foundation for understanding and managing the health of muscles, the skeleton and the nerves that drive our body movements.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. How Nerves Work
    • Structure of the nervous system
    • Neuron function
    • Anatomy of neurons
    • How muscles work with nerves
    • Basic body functions
  2. Nerves and Motor Skills
    • Overview
    • Synapses
    • Neurotransmitters
    • Neural circuits
    • Science of motor skills
    • How motor skills develop
    • Physiology of the central nervous system
    • Homeostatic reflex arc
    • Spinal chord and spinal nerves
    • Central Sensio motor programs
  3. Skeletal Muscle
    • The skeleton
    • How bones form
    • Anatomy of bone
    • Fractures and fracture healing
    • Types of bones
    • Bone joints
    • Skeletal muscles
    • Smooth muscle
    • Striated voluntary muscle
    • Cardiac muscle
    • Relationship between muscle and skeleton
  4. Muscle Organisation
    • Parts of the muscular system: tendons, deep fascia, epimysium etc
    • Types of muscle fibre
    • Muscle types: striated, smooth, cardiac
    • Skeletal muscle types: slow oxidative, fast glycolic, etc
    • What muscle cause what movement
  5. Muscular Movement
    • How do muscles move
    • How skeletal muscles produce movement
    • How levers are used to produce muscular movement
    • Group actions
    • Terminology
    • Muscle groups and movements
  6. Muscular Development
    • Muscular body function
    • Energy systems
    • Muscular strength
    • Muscular endurance
  7. Muscle Flexibility
    • Introduction
    • Flexibility
    • Excitation contraction of muscle
    • Different levels of flexibility
    • Internal flexibility
    • External flexibility
  8. Muscles and Posture
    • Posture
    • Gravity support
    • Net movement
    • Benefits of posture
    • Good posture
    • Postural mechanisms
    • Slow and fast twitch muscles
    • Nervous system feedback
    • Posture improvement
    • Ergonomics


  • Explain how nerves cause reactions in the human body.
  • Explain how the nervous system affects motor skill performance.
  • Explain the function and structure of skeletal muscle in the human body.
  • Describe the organisation of muscle tissue in the human body.
  • Describe the mechanics of muscular movement.
  • Explain development of muscular strength and muscular endurance.
  • Selecting muscular flexibility exercises.
  • Explain significance of muscles to posture and general well being.

Here are just some of the things you will be doing:
  • Draw a cross section of the spinal cord, and label the anatomical parts.
  • Explain what happens when an electrical stimulus is sent along the central nervous system, by illustrating and labeling the reflex arc.
  • Explain nerve to nerve synapses, during a specific body movement.
  • Explain activity at muscle-nerve junctions, during the specific body movement.
  • Explain how proprioceptors function, during the specific body movement.
  • Explain processes which occur in the nervous system, when a specific muscle moves.
  • Explain the functioning of the following different sensory receptors:
    • smell
    • sound
    • balance
  • Distinguish between the functions of the following different neuroglia:
    • Astrocytes
    • Oligodendrocytes
    • Microglia
    • Ependymal cells
    • Neurolemmocytes
    • Satellite cells
  • Explain how the function of different parts of the brain affect different specific muscular movements in the body.
  • Explain how a specific voluntary skill is learnt by the body.
  • Explain the dampening affect, as exerted through the cerebellum.
  • Explain how the body perceives speed through the nervous system.
  • Explain the operation of tendons, during a specific movement of a limb.
  • Compare the function of motor with sensory fibres in nerves supplying muscles.
  • Compare differences in the structural characteristics of red and white muscle fibres.
  • Summarise events occurring during muscular contraction, at a microscopic level.
  • Explain how muscles of the hand move when you pick up a tennis ball.
  • Prepare diagrams showing the muscles in the back which provide both support and movement for the spinal column.
  • Explain the significance of these muscles to health, wellbeing and mobility.
  • Explain the principle of levers related to an observed muscular movement.
  • Explain the principle of moments related to an observed muscular movement.
  • Explain muscular movements which occur in the observed subjects, when using three different types of exercise machines.
  • Explain three different body movements, in terms of the action of different bones, muscles and nerves; including the movement of a limb in exercise, and the bending of the back, and one hand movement.
  • Distinguish between isotonic, isometric, eccentric and isokinetic contractions.
  • List ways how strength can be maintained and increased.
  • List ways how endurance can be maintained and increased.
  • Explain three different physiological changes which accompany increased strength.
  • Explain the overload principle, related to muscular development.
  • Explain biological processes in force to effect strength and endurance in an athlete observed and interviewed by you.
  • Compare static and dynamic flexibility, in an individual observed by you.
  • Explain the structural limits to flexibility, in three different people of different ages.
  • List ways of developing flexibility in a specific individual.
  • Explain the relationship between flexibility and aspects of performance in a specific case study.
  • Develop an exercise program to develop/maintain flexibility for a person.
  • Submit photos together with comments on the posture of each person you studied. Comment on the age, sex &, occupation of each of these people.
  • How might posture affect general well being, including arthritis and back pain.

Learn About the Fine Points of Movement

Every movement we make is composed of a combination of positions which different parts of the body remain in, or move through, over a certain period of time.

Movement can be analysed in terms of the following components:


Foot placement

  • Position of hips (from all directions)
  • Angle between hip and upper leg (at different stages of the movement)
  • Angle of the ankle (foot to lower leg) at various stages
  • Angle of knee (at various stages)
  • Position of arms
  • Angle of back (e.g. at right angles to water surface)
  • Mid line displacement if in water (e.g. how far the body is in or out of the water at different stages) 
  • Balance and gravity (e.g. leaning forward or to the side while running).

Exercises are easily understood if you divide the body up into a few broad sections (e.g. arms, legs, the trunk/waist and chest, head) and then classify exercises as broad types of movements for each of these parts. 

For example, two different ways the legs might be used are for walking or jumping. Within each of these types of movements there is scope for a wide range of variations. That is, jumping could be done with the legs together, or apart. Beyond this, different types of movements of one part may be combined with different types of movements of another body part. The number of possible combinations therefore increases.

Leg Movements

Moving the legs will get the heart pumping more than moving the arms. 

This is because of:

  • Involvement of large muscle groups.
  • The distance from the heart (if muscles worked are further from the heart and are using more  blood, the excess blood needs to be pumped further).
  • Gravity (the pushing of blood back up to the heart goes against gravity which makes the heart pump harder).
  • Legs weigh more and therefore more effort is required to keep them in action and to sustain the action for extended periods.

As such, repeated energetic leg movements are the basis for most aerobic exercise whether walking, running, jumping, stepping, cycling, skating, etc.

Arm Movements

While most types of aerobic movements are based on leg movements, these moves can be built upon with arm movements. 

Arm movements can vary in terms of:

1. Intensity (to work the heart and muscles harder).
2. Complexity (to increase interest and/or challenge coordination skills).

  • Avoid arm movements above the shoulder for people with high blood pressure or shoulder impairment injuries.
  • Arm movements should complement the movements in the lower body (avoid difficult arm leg coordination moves).
  • The sequence of arm movements should be a natural flow.
  • Speed and range of movement should be appropriate (avoid movements that are fast, stressful, high impact, confusing to follow/perform).
  • Arm movements should challenge but NOT confuse.
  • Avoid excessive repetition of the same movements (variety will provide balanced working of a wide range of muscles).


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