Myology is the study of muscles. A number of medical practitioners integrate some myology into their training, because understanding the musculoskeletal system is key to addressing many health issues, and myology is also a topic of interest for massage therapists, personal trainers, and physical therapists who work with the muscles on a daily basis. For people with a casual interest in the muscular structure, a number of bookstores carry books which have overviews of the muscles and their functions.
When discussing the study of human muscles, people usually just say “human myology.” For other types of living organisms, a qualifier is inserted, as in avian myology, the study of bird musculature. The muscle structure in different animals is radically different, reflecting different skeletal structures, lifestyles, habits, and functions. For example, both cats and humans have a trapezius muscle, but the muscle looks radically different in these different animal species.
A myologist looks at the physical structure of muscles, studying the different kinds of muscle fibers, the shape of healthy muscles, the nerves which innervate various muscles, the functions of specific muscles, and the connections between different muscle groups. Also of interest are degenerative diseases involving the muscles, recovery from muscle injury, the results of mytomy procedures in which muscles are cut, and the impact of nervous system disorders on muscle function. Myologists can also study specific muscle groups, as in oral myology, which is used to understand the muscles of the face and throat with the goal of helping people correct speech disorders.
Training in myology is an important part of medical education, and of education for many allied health professionals including bodyworkers. Some students learn about musculature through dissection, in which they have an opportunity to personally examine the inner workings of the musculoskeletal system, while others may learn from textbooks, prosections, interactive anatomy software, and other tools, depending on financial or ethical restrictions.
Biopsy samples taken from muscles which appear to be weak or disordered may also be of interest to a myologist. These samples can be examined under a microscope to look at the cells, determine which types of muscle fiber are present, and find out whether or not abnormalities are present in the muscle. Many myologists are also very interested in the activities which build up or reduce muscle, applying their knowledge to training programs for athletes and people recovering from muscular injuries or surgeries in which the muscles were damaged.