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Smooth Muscles vs. Skeletal Muscles: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 24, 2023
Smooth Muscles are involuntary muscles found in organs like the stomach, while Skeletal Muscles are voluntary muscles attached to bones for movement.

Key Differences

Smooth Muscles are the type of muscles that work autonomously without our conscious control. On the contrary, Skeletal Muscles function based on our conscious commands, allowing us to move deliberately.
The structural aspect differentiates Smooth Muscles from Skeletal Muscles. Smooth Muscles have spindle-shaped cells with no striations, whereas Skeletal Muscles have long, multi-nucleated fibers with striations visible under a microscope.
In terms of location, Smooth Muscles predominantly exist within walls of hollow internal organs like blood vessels or the digestive tract. In contrast, Skeletal Muscles are usually attached to bones by tendons, facilitating skeletal movement.
The contraction pace and duration of Smooth Muscles tend to be slower and sustained for more extended periods. Skeletal Muscles, however, can contract rapidly but tire more quickly than Smooth Muscles.
From a functional standpoint, Smooth Muscles play a crucial role in activities like digesting food or constricting blood vessels. Skeletal Muscles, in contrast, are pivotal for actions such as running, jumping, or lifting.

Comparison Chart




Spindle-shaped, non-striated
Long, striated fibers


Hollow internal organs
Attached to bones by tendons

Contraction Speed & Endurance

Slower, sustained
Rapid, tires more quickly


Activities like digestion
Movements like running or lifting

Smooth Muscles and Skeletal Muscles Definitions

Smooth Muscles

Muscles that operate slowly and can stay contracted longer.
The bladder uses Smooth Muscles to retain and expel urine.

Skeletal Muscles

Muscles primarily responsible for body locomotion.
Skeletal Muscles in our back support posture and movement.

Smooth Muscles

Spindle-shaped muscle cells within walls of hollow organs.
The intestines rely on Smooth Muscles for peristalsis.

Skeletal Muscles

Voluntary muscles attached to bones, enabling movement.
Biceps are Skeletal Muscles that allow us to flex our arm.

Smooth Muscles

Involuntary muscles found in internal organs.
The stomach uses Smooth Muscles to churn and mix food.

Skeletal Muscles

Striated muscles under conscious control.
To jump, our leg's Skeletal Muscles contract rapidly.

Smooth Muscles

Non-striated muscles operating without conscious control.
Smooth Muscles in blood vessels control blood flow.

Skeletal Muscles

Long fibered muscles connected to bones by tendons.
Lifting weights engages various Skeletal Muscles in the arms and chest.

Smooth Muscles

Muscles responsible for unconscious internal processes.
The dilation of pupils involves the contraction of Smooth Muscles.

Skeletal Muscles

Muscles that contract quickly but can tire easily.
Running sprints heavily engages the Skeletal Muscles in legs.


Are Smooth Muscles under voluntary control?

No, Smooth Muscles operate involuntarily.

Can we consciously control Skeletal Muscles?

Yes, Skeletal Muscles function based on our conscious commands.

What appearance do Skeletal Muscles have under a microscope?

Skeletal Muscles have long, striated fibers.

How are Skeletal Muscles attached to the skeleton?

Skeletal Muscles are attached to bones through tendons.

Are Smooth Muscles involved in digestion?

Yes, Smooth Muscles play a role in processes like peristalsis in digestion.

Do Smooth Muscles contract rapidly?

No, Smooth Muscles contract slowly but can sustain contraction longer.

Which muscles are pivotal for activities like running?

Skeletal Muscles are essential for running.

Do Smooth Muscles have multiple nuclei?

No, Smooth Muscle cells typically have a single nucleus.

Are Skeletal Muscles multi-nucleated?

Yes, Skeletal Muscle fibers are multi-nucleated.

Can Smooth Muscles maintain contraction without tiring quickly?

Yes, Smooth Muscles can maintain prolonged contractions.

Do Smooth Muscles have striations?

No, Smooth Muscles are non-striated.

Where are Smooth Muscles primarily located?

Smooth Muscles are primarily in hollow internal organs like the stomach.

Which muscles tire out more quickly?

Skeletal Muscles tire out more quickly compared to Smooth Muscles.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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