REVIEW: Muscle: The Gripping Story of Strength and Movement by Roy A. Meals
An entertaining illustrated deep dive into muscle, from the discovery of human anatomy to the latest science of strength training.
Muscle tissue powers every heartbeat, blink, jog, jump, and goosebump. It is the force behind the most critical bodily functions, including digestion and childbirth, as well as extreme feats of athleticism. We can mold our muscles with exercise and observe the results.
In this lively, lucid book, orthopedic surgeon Roy A. Meals takes us on a wide-ranging journey through anatomy, biology, history, and health to unlock the mysteries of our muscles. He breaks down the three different types of muscle – smooth, skeletal, and cardiac -and explores major advancements in medicine and fitness, including cutting-edge gene-editing research and the science behind popular muscle conditioning strategies. Along the way, he offers insight into the changing aesthetic and cultural conception of muscle, from Michelangelo’s David to present-day bodybuilders, and shares fascinating examples of strange muscular maladies and their treatment. Brimming with fun facts and infectious enthusiasm, Muscle sheds light on the astonishing, essential tissue that moves us through life.
Almost three years ago, I read Dr. Meals’s book “Bones:Inside and Out” about bones. Now he tackles muscles which (the skeletal ones) are attached to bones to move them. Skeletal muscles aren’t the only ones in town – I mean, our bodies – though. Smooth muscles do all sorts of nifty things such as run our gastrointestinal system. Let’s hear it for the sphincter ani and urethral sphincter. Life – and our dignity – would be a lot less pleasant without them. The last kind, cardiac, is really the one we can’t do without although scientists and inventors are pushing the boundaries of devices that can help people with ailing cardiac muscle who are on transplant waiting lists.
Meals deep dives into the history of medicine in regards to musculature and what makes muscle work – how it’s attached (if it’s attached), how it moves, and how it repairs itself (if it can). He also discusses maintenance – exercising as well as diet, supplements (good or bad?), and nutrition. There’s even a chapter on bodybuilding. Animals have some specialized muscles such as those that allow horses to twitch off flies. Information on fast-twitch vs slow-twitch muscles and how these affect what sports you’d be good at is here. The book wraps up with a discussion on potential muscle replacements and robots.
Dr. Meals has a nice writing style that invites you in and the book is full of drawings and photos to illustrate what’s being discussed. It’s obviously well researched though I found that I wasn’t quite as interested in some of the information and topics. Bodybuilding just isn’t my thing. Exercise is more my interest. But there is a lot of varied content and probably something to catch a reader’s interest. B-