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Sports massage – Organelles

Hadyn Luke posted this on Monday 18th of June 2018 Hadyn Luke 18/06/2018

Tags: Anatomy and physiology

Organelles large

Our blog series on sports massage (see Sports Massage Treatments for an overview) continues with a closer look at organelles.

Sports massage can benefit anyone from recreational gym goers to top athletes. Many qualified personal trainers and fitness instructors progress to take a Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage (Soft Tissue Therapy).

What are organelles?

Essentially, organelles are small cellular structures. They are the specialised part of a cell and have specific functions. Some organelles are found in lots of different types of cell and others are only found in a few specific types of cell.

The name organelle means “little organ”, as their function can be compared with the way that the body’s larger organs work. Organs contain tissue made up of cells, which in turn are made up of organelles.

Located in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, organelles can be found in unicellular organisms as well as in animals and the human body.

The most common organelles of an animal cell are: 

  • Nucleus
  • Ribosomes
  • Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)
  • Golgli complex or apparatus
  • Lysosomes
  • Mitochondria
  • Cell membrane

What are the functions of organelles?

They may be small but organelles perform essential functions within a cell. Depending on the type of organelle, this can range from producing energy for a cell to controlling its growth.

Taking the above in turn:


Containing DNA with genetic information, the nucleus regulates the activity of a cell and helps with the production of proteins by providing the right amino acid template.


Comprising proteins and ribonucleic acid (RNA), these use the template from the nucleus to synthesise proteins.

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)

This network of membranes includes rough ERs, which synthesise proteins, and smooth ERs, which help to synthesis lipids and sometimes steroids, detoxify certain drugs and, in muscle cells, store and release calcium.

Golgli complex or apparatus 

These membranous sacs modify and sort proteins before transporting them onwards.


Acting as waste management, they contain enzymes that break down proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids, before expelling the waste.


Large, sausage-shaped organelles, mitochondria contain their own DNA and produce energy from oxygen, carbohydrates and fatty acids.

Cell membrane 

Built from phospholipids, cell membranes protect a cell while allowing certain materials or signals to pass through, as required.

What’s the difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells

Eukaryotic cells have a nucleus whereas prokaryotic cells have a less complex structure without a nucleus.

Example of eukaryotic organisms are: animals, plants, fungi and protists (eg some algae). However, some animals have organelles not seen in plants and vice versa. Prokaryotic cells include bacteria and archaea (micro-organisms with a different molecular structure to bacteria).

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