Tendons - An ultimate guide


Tendons are sturdy fibrous structures with a nacreous color that bind muscles to bones or other insertion structures. Not all muscles, in fact, fit on the bones. For example, the mimic muscles which, being implanted on the skin of the face, move it, determining the facial expressions. At the same time, multiple muscle bundles can end in a single tendon (triceps muscle), just as a single muscle belly can insert itself with multiple tendons on a bone segment (flexors and extenders of the fingers). There are also large anatomical differences between the various tendons of the human body, which may involve shape, vascularization, length, and synovial lining.

Each tendon is made up of a very resistant substance called collagen and a more elastic one called elastin. The main function of the tendons is to transmit the force exerted by the muscles to the structures to which they are connected. Tendons are endowed with high strength and minimal elasticity to withstand all these often violent stresses. In fact, it is estimated that a 10% stretch is more than enough to tear the weaker tendon fibers.

Like the muscle, the tendon also reacts to external stimuli by adapting and modifying its characteristics. The continuous process of cell renewal allows tendons to gradually adapt to workloads, whether they increase (strengthen) or decrease (weaken) them.

However, this process is quite slow, and in any case, far less than the muscular one. The tendons, in fact, are poorly vascularized structures with rather reduced oxygen consumption. For this reason, their regeneration is rather slow.

Here is the reason why those who use anabolic steroids are more exposed to injuries. In fact, in the case of administration of anabolic hormones, there is a rapid increase in muscle mass and strength, which is not accompanied by an adequate tendon strengthening. The tendons are thus forced to bear excessive stress due to their structure, and, in case of sudden violent contractions, they are more predisposed to injury.

But there is also a more subtle enemy that can cause equally serious tendon injuries over time; it is the so-called repeated microtrauma. In these cases, the ligamentous lesion is caused by the cyclic repetition of small stresses, the frequency of which exceeds the speed of the cell repair tendon. This is the case, for example, of runners and Achilles tendinopathy, a pathology that affects a good percentage of runners, and that is caused by the repeated mechanical stresses to which the Achilles tendon is subjected during the race. Patellar tendinopathy, on the other hand, mainly affects athletes of sports disciplines who foresee explosive movements such as volleyball, basketball, or rugby.

Aging, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity put the functionality and health of the tendons at risk. Over the years, in fact, there has been a progressive loss of elasticity in both the collagen and the bone matrix. Aging also modifies the insertion of tendons, the cortex (outer part of bone) thins, and the medulla (the inner part) extends through crazing calcifying the proximal portion of the tendon. All this causes pain and stiffening compromising joint function and promoting cartilage degradation at the local level, especially in the presence of overweight. To keep tendons and joints healthy is sufficient to practice a little movement with almost daily constancy, taking care to start the session with 5-10 minutes of global warming and to end it with as many minutes to dedicate to stretching and improving/maintaining flexibility.

How to protect the tendon 

Recently, supplement companies have started marketing products that can act on connective tissue. The alleged beneficial effects of these supplements would translate into the reduction of the risk of injury due to the stimulus exerted on tendon regeneration. As proof of this, some studies that have shown how the administration of some amino acids (melatonin, lysine, arginine, and proline) can, in particular conditions, facilitate the healing of the damaged tissue.

In reality, there is no specific diet or miraculous supplements that can improve the health of the tendon structures or facilitate their repair. Once again, a balanced diet is the most effective solution for ensuring the health of the whole organism, including tendons.

We conclude this article by listing some tips to protect your tendons:

- The more a muscle is shortened and hypertrophic, the greater the risk of injury. For this reason, it is good to start and end every sport with some stretching exercises.

- initial warm-up is also very important to prevent accidents of any kind

- suitable equipment, particular attention to footwear

- pain can be a wake-up call if it appears it is good to rest or go to another less demanding activity

- avoid overdoing it, after a long period of inactivity gradually resume sports

- respect the correct technique of performing the exercises

Difference between ligament and tendon with examples

A tendon is a very solid fibrous tissue which is located at the ends of a muscle in order to connect it to the bone. It, therefore, allows the bones and muscles to be coordinated in order to perform movements and to be able to lift loads. The tendon makes the connection between the muscle and the bone to transmit the movement given by the muscle. It is made of collagen fibers, which gives it great elasticity and resistance. However, sometimes the tendon is weakened or breaks due to repetitive movements. Tendons connect muscles to bones. They constitute the terminal part of the muscle, which will anchor in the skeleton. The tendons, therefore, play a major role in the contraction of the muscles whose force they will relay in order to mobilize the bone pieces.

A ligament is a very strong and elastic band of tissue that connects the bones together at the joints; it also serves to hold the organs in place. For example, ligaments connect the femur and the tibia, the humerus, and the ulnaTendons, but there is also a ligament that connects the stomach and the spleen. The ligament makes the connection between the bones of a joint and maintains it in certain organs. It stabilizes the joints; it is not very elastic but very resistant. The ligament limits the movements to keep the good amplitude of the joint. They can tear if the stretch is too great.


1047 Words


Apr 24, 2020


3 Pages

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