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What are Ligaments & Tendons

By Laurence Schubert APAM

What is a tendon?

A tendon is a strong fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone. The main function of a tendon is to allow movement that is initiated by a muscular contraction. Tendons are strong enough to withstand high tensile forces that allow for transmission of force from muscle to bone. Consider tendons as stiff springs, capable of storing and using elastic energy, but thick enough to maintain structure and length. E.g. think of the achilles tendon, a thick palpatory (touchable) tissue that connects from the heel to the calf muscle.

What is a ligament?

A ligament is also a strong fibrous tissue, but connects bone to bone. The main difference is that ligaments are likely to restrict movement and provide stability in a joint. E.g. the ligaments of the ankle or the ACL of the knee. Without the ligaments surrounding the ankle we would have an extremely high risk of an ankle sprain. Unlike tendons, ligaments are non-contractile – meaning you cannot actively tense and move a ligament.

What is Tendinopathy?

Tendinopathy is an overuse injury resulting in injury to the tendon. Tendinopathy is extremely prevalent and comprise a major proportion of the sports clinician’s workload. You will commonly hear the word “tendinitis” being used instead of tendinopathy. Tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendon which is inclusive of “tendinopathy”. Tendinopathy includes all injuries to the tendon. Tendinopathy derived from the Greek word “pathy” – refers to suffering or disease. Tendon + pathy = tendinopathy. So there you have it folks.

To find out a little more about management of tendinopathy, check out Matthew Ho’s previous post “Do’s and Don’ts of Tendinopathy”.

If you have any questions about anatomy, ligaments or tendons then please give contact us or give us a call on 94595849.

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