We’re so attached to building up the perfect body. Societal pressures tell us that we absolutely must have toned abs and carved out shoulders, and so we furiously work out to meet the standards and even go beyond. As a result, we rarely stop to think about which muscles work the hardest on a daily basis. Well, guess what? The hardest working muscles are the ones that we never think about and even take for granted.
The hardest working muscle is by far the heart, which makes perfect sense. Your heart has been beating in your chest since you were still in utero and will continue to do so until you breathe your last breath. It is made entirely of muscles, arteries, and veins, provided that you’re reasonably healthy and eat a healthy diet, and spends its life furiously pumping blood into your body. That one little muscle is responsible for you being alive. Don’t believe it? Take a look at these numbers. The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a 70-year span.
But it’s not only your heart that you think as being a given. Your masseter, located in the jaw, is the primary muscle used for mastication, or chewing. So next time you’re enthusiastically chomping on a piece of Orbit, remember that it is this muscle that is allowing you to complete this act with relative smoothness. The masseter is so strong that it allows for bite strength from 177 to 265 pounds per square inch. However, our jaw muscles are pathetic compared to other mammals. For example, saltwater crocodiles have the strongest bite strength found in history, at 3690 pounds per square inch. Interestingly, it is only the motion of biting down that is so strong, in fact, their opening muscles are quite weak.
Next up is the soleus muscle, residing in our calf. It is this muscle that allows us to stand up, and so it is constantly fighting against gravity to keep the body vertical. The soleus is said to be the muscle that can pull with the greatest force of all the muscles in the body. A crucial connective tissue, it starts at the head of the calf and terminates in the Achilles tendon. However, its principal function is actually to flex the ankle muscle, in particular when the knee is bent, and so it is heavily used during walking and running. As a result, it is quite vulnerable to injury and should be treated with care, in particular during marathon training. Injuries in question are often difficult to assess without professional help because the pain itself is dull rather than sharp.
Finally, the one we’ve all been waiting for: gluteus maximus. Your butt muscles are not only the largest muscles in the body, but they are also among the strongest. As a result, they are rather easy to tone, given the multitude of physical activities available for this purpose. You can choose from running, cycling, floor exercises, pilates, climbing, and the list goes on. Because its main focus is hip extension and movement of the hip and thigh, it works nearly every time we shift our bodies. This muscle is attached to the coccyx, or tailbone, and the surrounding tissues and evolved from a muscle in primates that is still seen today.
The muscles of the body, no matter how small, are very much worth caring for. They are, like your bones, vulnerable to injury, so you should be caring for them by regularly stretching and indulging in the occasional massage.