Anti-gravity muscles: what they are, types, characteristics and functions

Whether standing, sitting, pointing, or doing a yoga pose, we need to use several muscles that work against the effects of gravity. The posture, although static, requires the activation of several muscles which counteract the force discovered by Isaac Newton.

The muscles involved in this task are called anti-gravity muscles., which we will discover below as well as their functions and locations. Keep reading to learn them.

    What are anti-gravity muscles?

    The antigravitational muscles are a set of muscle groups that allow us to get up from a lying position. They are so called because their most important function is to resist the force of gravity to maintain a certain posture, helping to resist their constant pressure.

    Their joint action works synergistically and harmoniously to overcome the gravitational force on our joints and give us stability and balance.

      Types of anti-gravity muscles

      We can talk about it different types of anti-gravity muscles depending on the type of movement they perform. These can be:

      • Descending anti-gravity muscles: in favor of gravity.
      • Anti-gravity muscles up: against gravity.
      • Antigravity muscles with horizontal movement: perpendicular to the force of gravity.

      We can also talk about two types of these muscles depending on the type of action they perform:

      • Static muscles: they are usually in a state of constant contraction and are characterized by being the most able to resist stretching.
      • Dynamic muscles: generate movements from their contraction in the joints. They are more suitable for making movements.

      Main duties

      Among the different functions of the antigravity muscles, we can highlight the following:

      1. Postural function

      Postural function is the most important of the antigravity muscles. This is due to the fact they are the ones responsible for keeping us in a certain position. Even if the posture in question is static, that does not mean that many of our muscles are not working. On the contrary, to keep us upright, with one arm raised or inclined in a certain way, the postural action of the antigravity muscles is necessary.

        2. Proprioceptive function

        Antigravity muscles notify the brain whether we are standing, sitting or in any other position because it has proprioceptors in different body segments that send information to the cerebral cortex. That is to say, These muscles have sensors that send signals to the brain that tell you what position the body is in..

        3. Tonic function

        Antigravity Muscles, by their continuous traction, they are responsible for giving a toned appearance to the body if they are worked.

          Specific functions, origin and insertion

          Humans have several antigravitational muscles, so we can speak of multiple origins and insertions of these tissues.

          1. Chest and abdomen anti-gravity muscles

          The antigravity muscles of the chest and abdomen are the diaphragm and the transverse.

          1.1. Diaphragm

          The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the thorax from the abdominal cavity, acting as a sort of anatomical septum.. This muscle gives stability and balance to the body and, when contracted, increases the emptying of blood into the liver.

          It has various origins because it is composed of several fibers. These are anchored in all the anatomical structures that make up the inferior costal os. Its insertion is a clover-shaped center where all its muscle fibers converge.

            1.2. Transverse

            The transverse is a muscle located below the oblique of the abdomen.. Its function is to increase the intra-abdominal pressure and the constriction of the abdomen, which makes this muscle very necessary to perform the movements of urination, defecation and exhalation.

            It originates in the medial aspect of the fifth and sixth ribs and in the costiform process of the L1-L5 lumbar vertebrae. It is inserted in the midline of the body, more specifically in the pectineus line (chest), the pubic crest and the white line. This anatomical structure is called the Douglas arch.

            2. Anti-gravity muscles of the upper limb

            The most notable antigravity muscle of the upper limb is the triceps. This muscle is located at the back of the humerus and has the main function of extending the forearm and upper arm.

            It consists of three parts: a long one, which originates in the subglenoid scapular tubercle; a lateral, originating above the humeral torsion canal; and a medial part, which originates under the humeral torsion canal. The three parts are inserted into the olecranon by the tendon of the triceps.

              3. Antigravity muscles of the lower limb

              The antigravity muscles of the lower limb are the quadriceps femoris, the gluteus medius, the gluteus maximus, the iliopsoas and the hip adductor.

              3.1. Quadriceps femoris

              The quadriceps femoris is located in the leg, at the level of the femur and its main function is knee extension. This is considered the main anti-gravity muscle because thanks to it we can stand upright and support our weight.

              As with the triceps, the quadriceps femoris is made up of portions, in this case four. The side part it originates in the outer and upper parts of the femur, being inserted into the lower part of the greater trochanter; the medial part originates in the intertrochanteric line going to the rough line of the femur, inserting into the patella; the intermediate arises in the upper two-thirds of the lateral aspect of the femur, and the anterior arises in the antero-inferior iliac spine and in the acetabular supercilium.

              All parts of the quadriceps femoris join at the most distal part of the femur, forming a large tendon that attaches to the base and sides of the patella.

              3.2. middle buttock

              The function of the gluteus medius is to abduct and rotate the femur. This buttock originates at the lateral border of the iliac crest, the external iliac fossa, the gluteal aponeurosis and the antero-superior iliac spine. It is inserted into the outer face of the greater trochanter.

              3.3. Bigger buttocks

              The gluteus maximus it is located at the level of the iliac crests. It has several functions, the most notable of which is the flexion of the thigh on the pelvis and the recovery of the standing position from the squatting position. It originates in the upper two thirds of the external iliac fossa, the coccyx, the sacroiliac ligaments and the upper part of the sacrum. It is inserted into the raw line, at the height of its fork.

                3.4. Iliopsoas

                The iliopsoas is a muscle whose main action is hip flexion. Its origin can be found in the transverse process of the lumbar vertebrae and the internal iliac fossa and its insertion is the lesser trochanter of the femur.

                3.5. hip adductor

                As the last antigravity muscle in the list, we are talking about the hip adductor, consisting of two bellies, lying in the thigh with a triangular shape. It is responsible for retroverting the pelvis, keeping the spine stable. At the height of the femur, it acts as an adductor and an internal rotator.

                The hip adductor it originates in the pelvis, in the posterior two-thirds of the hamstrings. One of its bellies is inserted into the rough line of the femur, while the other is inserted into the posterior aspect of the medial condyle of the femur.

                Bibliographic references

                • Acero-Martin, R. (2016). Antigravitational and gravitational muscles in standing and running. Human motor skills.
                • Shankhwar, Vishwajeet & Dahiya, Dilbag & Deepak, KK (2021). Characterization of Electromyographic Signals of Biceps and Rectus Muscles Femoris to Assess the Performance of Coupled Squats with the Gravitational Load Modulating Bodygear Countermeasure. Science and technology of microgravity. 33. 10.1007/s12217-021-09899-z.
                • Shankhwar, Vishwajeet & Dahiya, Dilbag & Deepak, KK (2021). Effect of new designed Bodygear on gastrocnemius and soleus muscles when walking in human body. Science and technology of microgravity. 33. 10.1007/s12217-021-09870-y.
                • Soames, RW, & Atha, J. (1981). The role of antigravity musculature during quiet standing in humans. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 47(2), 159–167.

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