Difference Between Smooth Muscle and Skeletal Muscle

Our body is a complex mechanism that involves the right functioning of numerous parts. It is made up of a variety of muscles, bones, organs, and cells. The smooth muscles and skeletal muscles are two very essential muscles of the human body that have different compositions, functions, and locations.

Smooth Muscle vs Skeletal Muscle

The main difference between Smooth Muscle and Skeletal Muscle is that the smooth muscles are responsible for maintaining the supply of essential things like food and fluid in the internal organs, whereas the skeletal muscles are mainly responsible for the movement and locomotion of our body.

Smooth Muscle and Skeletal Muscle

Smooth muscles are an important type of muscle in our body. They are located in the inner walls of our internal organs. These are essential to transport fluids and food to our internal organs, which are very important for our body. They are self stimulated, which means that they do not require any stimulation from the nervous system.

The skeletal muscle is yet another important type of muscle present in our body. These are located under the skin and the bones. The skeletal muscles are fast and non-synchronised. These help in the movement of our body and also require stimulation from our nervous system by the motor neurons.

Comparison Table Between Smooth Muscle and Skeletal Muscle

Parameters of ComparisonSmooth MuscleSkeletal Muscle
Muscle typeDifferent lengths of myofibrils from an unstriated muscleAn ordered arrangement of myofibrils forms striated muscle.
CellsThese are made up of single tapering and uni-nucleated cells.These are made up of long, cylindrical, and multinucleated cells.
LocationThe inner linings or walls of the internal organs.The skeletal muscles are attached to the bones or the skin.
Contraction SpeedIn some organs, the contraction speed is slow and rhythmic.The contraction speed in skeletal muscles is non-rhythmic and fast.
FunctionThey help in maintaining the flow of fluids and foods in the internal organs.They are responsible for locomotion and movement.

What is Smooth Muscle?

Smooth muscles are very essential for the proper functioning of a body. The muscle type of smooth muscles is different lengths of myofibrils that ultimately form unstriated muscles. Their movement is involuntary, which means that their functioning does not require a command from the brain. Also so they are self-stimulating, which means there is no need for the nervous system to stimulate their functioning. They are controlled by the endocrine and nervous systems with the help of chemicals and stretching.

The function of the smooth muscles is to circulate food and fluids through the internal organs from time to time. These internal organs can be the intestine, stomach, bladder, uterus, urethra, bronchi, blood vessels, oesophagus, etc. They do not experience fatigue and have a stress-relaxation response. The energy requirement for their functioning is very low. Since they need to maintain the flow of fluid inside the internal organs, their location is also in their inner walls or linings. The cells of smooth muscles are single tapering and uninucleated. Their contraction speed is rhythmic and quite slow in some of the organs. 

What is Skeletal Muscle?

The other type of muscle is skeletal muscle. These are attached to the bones and skin of the body. The movement of skeletal muscles is completely voluntary. That is, we can control them, and they will move and stop on our command. Skeletal muscles are made up of cylindrical, long, and multinucleated cells. These skeletal muscles are attached to the skin and bones with the help of tendons. The function of skeletal muscles is quite useful and necessary for the body. They help in locomotion and movement as well as in maintaining our posture.

The muscle fibres of skeletal muscles are low and have high levels of myoglobin and mitochondria. They carry high levels of Oxygen and appear red. The skeletal muscles are controlled by the nervous system. This is the reason they are also called non-self from stimulating muscles which means that they require stimulation from the nervous system with the help of motor neurons. Since their function is responsible for the movement of our body and keeping posture correct, they also require high amounts of energy to withstand our weight. The strength of skeletal muscles can be easily increased with the help of stretching. Also, many foods and exercises can help improve the performance of these muscles. The contraction speed of skeletal muscles is non-rhythmic and fast, unlike that of smooth muscles, which is rhythmic and slow.

Main Differences Between Smooth Muscle and Skeletal Muscle

  1. Smooth muscles are formed with the help of different lengths of myofibrils, whereas skeletal muscles are an ordered arrangement of myofibrils.
  2. Smooth muscles are made up of single tapering and uninucleated cells, while Skeletal muscles are made up of long, cylindrical, and multinucleated cells.
  3.  The location of smooth muscles is in the inner walls of internal organs. On the other hand, the location of skeletal muscle is usually attached to the bones and the skin.
  4. The contraction speed of smooth muscles, in some organs, is slow and rhythmic, whereas the contraction speed of skeletal muscles is fast and non-rhythmic.
  5. The functions of the smooth muscle are to circulate food and fluid in the internal organs. The function of the skeletal muscles is to assist in movement and locomotion.


Both smooth and skeletal muscles are important for the proper functioning of our body. Even though they come under the broad category of muscles, they are a lot different from each other. While smooth muscles help in circulating food and fluids to our internal organs, on the other hand, the skeletal muscles help move around, that is, locomotion. Having a healthy diet and proper exercise can help in keeping these muscles fit for a long time. Proper exercise and movement of the skeletal muscles help a lot in keeping them fit and working for a long time.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mus.880180612
  2. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/ajpheart.00227.2014
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