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VIDEO: Simple guide to Tendons for Armwrestlers & Everyone else


Tendons are situated between bone and muscles and are bright white in colour, their fibro-elastic composition gives them the strength require to transmit large mechanical forces. Each muscle has two tendons, one proximally and one distally.

Tendons are connective tissue, group of tissues in the body that maintain the form of the body and its organs and provide cohesion and internal support. The connective tissues include several types of fibrous tissue that vary only in their density and cellularity, as well as the more specialized and recognizable variants—boneligamentstendonscartilage, and adipose(fat) tissue.

The dry weight of each wall of tendons is made up of more than 95% of collagen. The ends of tendons, which are the most solid parts, are composed almost exclusively of collagen, up to 99%. Our tendons’ properties and functions are directly related to the architecture and quality of the collagen fibres. The collagen portion is made up of 97–98% type I collagen, with small amounts of other types of collagen

The structures surrounding the tendon can be split into 5 subcategories. The main aim of these structures is to reduce friction and enable the tendon to glide smoothly. This is an important factor for ensuring the transitions of the force is at its most efficient.

Tendon functions

The tendons’ main role is to transmit forces from the muscle to the bone and absorbs external forces to prevent injury to the muscle. As the tendon runs from a very compliant tissue (the muscle) to a ridged stiff one (the bone), this role can become very difficult, this can result in strain concentrated at the site of merging tissues. This can be a common site of injury.

The make up of the tendon is now not thought to be the same throughout, research has discovered that the tendon itself may be more ridged in some parts and more compliant and elastic in others to overcome this concentration of strain and risk of injury. Each tendon will differ throughout the body depending on the rate in which they are strained. The behaviour of the collagen within the tendon depends on the intramolecular types, quantity and bond.

Tendon injuries

Collagen contributes to keep the structure and strength of tendons. When collagen breaks down, small tears appear in the tendon, weakening it and causing pain. Tendinitis notably affects those who perform repetitive tasks in their jobs, sports or daily activities. Another example of a disease related to tendons is bursitis. Bursitis is the swelling of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that allows muscles to glide easily over other muscles as well as bones. When you hurt a joint or tendon or use it excessively, the bursa may swell, causing pain, redness and a burning sensation.

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