Today I have an ear nerd trivia question for you. What are the largest and smallest muscles of your body? Pause and think about it for a moment. You might get the largest simply because the clue is in the name...gluteus maximus. It’s that big muscle that you can see on just about everybody, whether or not they have clothes on.
The smallest muscle will probably be harder to guess. That said, you might think of it just by virtue of the fact that I'm suggesting it. Yes, it's in your ear. Your middle ear to be precise. It's called the stapedius. The purpose of this one millimetre long muscle is to stabilize the smallest bone of the body, the stapes. The stapes is a little horseshoe shaped bone for vibrating sound to the inner ear where the little hair cells are waiting to be stimulated. Now, back to the baby muscle. Not only does it stabilize the stapes but it also dampens loud sound.
If a shout hits your eardrum it will tighten along with another middle ear muscle to keep all three bones in the middle ear from vibrating as hard. This in turn will partially protect the inner ear hair cells. It also dampens internal loud sounds like chewing, etc.
So there you have it, your ear and butt hold the smallest and largest skeletal muscles for you. Why do I bring this up? Well, really no great reason other than one more way to appreciate our hearing and all that goes into it. I believe the more we appreciate our hearing, the more likely we are to do all we can to protect it and to enhance it when necessary. Whatever your hearing range...I hope you are reminded today about how special it is!