Tendon

Tendons are tough pale/whitish cords that attach muscles to bones.
(Compare with ligaments, which attach bones to bones and are also inelastic, yet flexible.)

The origin of a tendon is the point at which it is connected to a muscle.

Tendons consist of water, type-I collagen, cells called tenocytes, minor fibrillar collagens, fibril-associated collagens and proteoglycans. Together, these components form many parallel bundles of collagen fibres that are inelastic (that is, they do not stretch in length), yet flexible (that is, they can move and adopt different shapes as needed).

Collagen fibres from within muscles are continuous with those of the attaching tendon.

Tendons insert into bone at specific locations or junctions (between muscle and bone) that are called an "enthesis". At these positions the collagen fibres are mineralised and integrated into bone tissue.

Tendons concentrate the mechanical pull of muscles onto specific, small, areas of bone. This is enables efficient movement of the structure of the body, more specifically - movement of bones relative to other bones.

Chronic overuse of tendons can lead to microscopic tears within the collagen matrix, which may gradually weaken the tissue. Some sports/remedial massage therapists may treat tendon injuries, as may physiotherapists.


This section consists of short summaries about the structures that form the muscles of the body. This list is not exhaustive but is intended to be appropriate for students of A-Level Human Biology, ITEC courses in massage and related subjects, and other courses in health sciences. For more general information about muscles see the pages about:

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