Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Episode 596 (9-27-21): Water and Muscles

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:09).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-24-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 27, 2021.  This episode is part of a series this fall on water connections to the human body and human biology.  This week, we start with some mystery sounds.  Have a listen for about 25 seconds, and see if you know the body system you can hear at work in all of these sounds.  And here’s a hint: it’ll be a show of strength if you guess this.

SOUNDS  - ~23 sec 

If you guessed the muscular system, you’re right!  Walking, dribbling a basketball, lifting weights, and jumping rope all involve some of the over 600 skeletal muscles in the human body.  Skeletal muscles, also called striated or voluntary muscles, are one of three muscle types in the body.  The other two are smooth, or involuntary muscles, found in internal organs; and cardiac muscle in the heart.  Whatever their location or function, muscles have several important connections to water, including the following six.

First, water is a major component of muscles, making up over 70 percent of muscle mass.

Second, cell volume, that is, the space within cells, is affected by the amount of water that cells contain, or the cells’ hydration state.  This is believed to be related to muscle strength and contraction capacity by affecting the shape and function of muscle proteins.

Third, water is the medium containing all the dissolved biochemicals that the body needs to function, including those involved in muscular contraction and in nourishing muscle cells.

Fourth, water is involved in reactions that release energy from the molecule ATP, and water is associated with the important energy-storage molecule glycogen.

Fifth, water helps regulate body temperature, including the heat generated by muscular activity.

And sixth, water helps lubricate moveable joints, the structures upon which skeletal muscles act to move parts of the body.

Overall, water plays a significant role in muscle strength and function, and muscle, in turn, is an important area of water storage for the body.

We close with some music whose title speaks of one of the most common uses of our muscles.  Here’s the closing 25 seconds of “Walk This Way For Awhile,” by the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels.

MUSIC - ~25 sec – Lyrics: “…you walk this way for awhile; will you walk this way for awhile?  I think you will, I know you still, I hope you will.”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The sounds heard in this episode were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on September 23, 2021.

“Walk This Way for Awhile,” by The Steel Wheels, is from the album “Live at Goose Creek,” recorded October 14, 2010, at Franklin Park Performing Arts Center, Purcellville, Va., and produced by Goose Creek Music; used with permission of The Steel Wheels.  The song is also on The Steel Wheel’s 2010 album, “Red Wing.”  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at http://www.thesteelwheels.com/.  More information about Goose Creek Music is available online at http://www.goosecreekmusic.com/.  More information about the Franklin Park Arts Center is available online at http://www.franklinparkartscenter.org/.  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio in Episode 286, 10-19-15.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


Structure of a representative human skeletal muscle.  Illustration from National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Module, “Muscular System/Structure of Skeletal Muscle,” online at https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/muscular/structure.html.


The following information is quoted from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Module, “Muscular System/Introduction” online at https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/muscular/.

“The muscular system is composed of specialized cells called muscle fibers.  Their predominant function is contractibility.  Muscles, attached to bones or internal organs and blood vessels, are responsible for movement.  Nearly all movement in the body is the result of muscle contraction.  Exceptions to this are the action of cilia, the flagellum on sperm cells, and amoeboid movement of some white blood cells.

“The integrated action of joints, bones, and skeletal muscles produces obvious movements such as walking and running.  Skeletal muscles also produce more subtle movements that result in various facial expressions, eye movements, and respiration.

“In addition to movement, muscle contraction also fulfills some other important functions in the body, such as posture, joint stability, and heat production.  Posture, such as sitting and standing, is maintained as a result of muscle contraction.  The skeletal muscles are continually making fine adjustments that hold the body in stationary positions.  The tendons of many muscles extend over joints and in this way contribute to joint stability.  This is particularly evident in the knee and shoulder joints, where muscle tendons are a major factor in stabilizing the joint.  Heat production, to maintain body temperature, is an important by-product of muscle metabolism.  Nearly 85 percent of the heat produced in the body is the result of muscle contraction.” 


Used for Audio

Ann Baggaley, ed., Human Body, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, New York, N.Y, 2001.

Cedric Bryant and Daniel Green, eds., Essentials of Exercise Science, American Council on Exercise, San Diego, Calif., 2017.

Michael Houston, Biochemistry Primer for Exercise Science, 3rd Edition, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Ill., 2006.

Isabel Lorenzo et al., “The Role of Water Homeostasis in Muscle Function and Frailty: A Review,” Nutrients, Vol. 11, No. 8 (August 2019, accessed online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723611/ (subscription may be required for access). 

National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Modules, “Muscular System,” online at https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/muscular/.

Science Direct, “Synovial Fluid: Structure and Function,” excerpted from Textbook of Pediatric Rheumatology, 5th Edition, Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2005; accessed online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/synovial-fluid (subscription may be required for access).

Scott Powers and Edward Howley, Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance, 8th Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, N.Y., 2012.

U.S. Geological Survey, “The Water in You: Water and the Human Body, online at https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.

For More Information about Water and the Human Body

American Society of Hematology, “Blood Basics,” online at https://www.hematology.org/education/patients/blood-basics.

Cleveland [Ohio] Clinic, “Heart & Blood Vessels: How Does Blood Travel Through Your Body,” online at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/heart-blood-vessels-blood-flow-body.

Cleveland [Ohio] Clinic, “Lymphatic System,” online at https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21199-lymphatic-system.

Eric Cudler, “Neuroscience for Kids,” online at https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.html.

Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, Penn., “Blood Vessels,” online at https://www.fi.edu/heart/blood-vessels.

Mayo Clinic Health System, “Water: Essential to your body,” online at https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/water-essential-to-your-body.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “Facts About Blood and Blood Cells,” online at https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/facts-about-blood-and-blood-cells.

National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Modules, “Nervous System,” online at https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/nervous/.

National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, SEER Training Module, “Skeletal System,” online at https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/skeletal/.

National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine, “Blood, Heart and Circulation,” online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bloodheartandcirculation.html.

University of Bristol (England), School of Medical Sciences, “Brain Basics: The Fundamentals of Neuroscience,” online at http://www.bris.ac.uk/synaptic/basics/basics-0.html.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Science” subject category.

Another episode related to human exercise is Episode 483, 7-29-19.  It focuses on buoyancy and drag in the water and is designed for middle school and high school students.

Following are links to other episodes on connections of water to human biology.  Please note that some of these episodes are being redone in fall 2021; in those cases, the respective links below will have information on the updated episodes. 

Episode 195, 1-6-14 – Water thermodynamics.
Episode 393, 11-6-17
– Disease: Influenza.
Episode 466, 4-1-19
– Water intake and sports.
Episode 517, 3-23-20
and Episode 519, 4-6-20 – Disease: Water connections to COVID-19.
Episode 592, 8-30-21
– Overview of water’s roles in the body.
Episode 593, 9-6-21
– Circulatory system connections to water.
Episode 594, 9-13-21
– Neurological system connections to water.
Episode 595, 9-20-21
– Skeletal system connections to water.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-3 plus 5: Force, Motion, and Energy
5.2 – Energy can take many forms.
5.3 – There is a relationship between force and energy of moving objects.

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
4.2 – Plants and animals have structures that distinguish them from one another and play vital roles in their ability to survive.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.

Life Science
LS.2 – All living things are composed of one or more cells that support life processes, as described by the cell theory.
LS.4 – There are chemical processes of energy transfer which are important for life.

BIO.2 – Chemical and biochemical processes are essential for life.
BIO.3 – Cells have structure and function.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.

Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.