While they are similar, the upper torso and the chest are not the same thing. The upper torso is considered to be anything above the waist and below the neck, including the shoulders and back. A part of the upper torso, the chest is the area in the front part of the body between the abdomen and the neck.
All About the Chest
The chest is one of the most important areas in the body. It’s home to many of the
body’s organ systems, including the heart, esophagus and lungs. All of these are housed inside the thoracic cavity (the chest cavity). Lining this cavity is the pleura. It’s a large thin sheet of connective tissue.
Bones of the Chest
A strong bone structure is necessary to protect all of those important organs and vital body functions. The bones of the chest combine with those of the upper back to form the rib cage, which wraps around the essential organs. The rib cage also keeps the bones of the head and neck firmly secured to the rest of the body.
Twelve ribs form the rib cage. The ribs extend from the thoracic vertebrae in the back to the sternum in the front. The sternum is a thin, flat bone also known as the breastbone.
Muscles of the Chest
The muscles work together with the bones to form the chest’s protective structure. The primary muscle in the upper chest is the pectoralis major, a fan-shaped muscle. It stretches from the armpit to the collarbone and down to the lower chest. Underneath the pectoralis major is the pectoralis minor. It runs along the upper ribs.
Muscles of the Upper Torso
In addition to the powerful muscles of the chest, there are other major muscles in the upper torso. These include the following:
- Teres major
- Rhomboid major
- Latissimus dorsi
- Serratus anterior
Many of these muscles are located in the shoulders, upper back and upper arms.
The Body at Work
The chest is home to the circulatory system. As the main player inside the chest, the heart powers the circulatory system. The heart beats an average of 72 times per minute and circulates up to 2,000 gallons of blood a day.
The chest is also home to the lungs, which pull oxygen from the air and supply it to the blood. The lungs are also responsible for expelling carbon dioxide waste from the body.
A lesser-known organ, the thymus, also makes its home in the chest. This organ is located between the heart and the sternum. It has the important job of producing T cells, which are a type of white blood cell.