Tendons are a vital component of the musculoskeletal system, connecting muscles to bones and enabling body movement and stability.
Without the tendons, the effect of the muscles would not be transmitted to the bones, and we would not be able to hold the body upright or make any movement.
Knowing even the basic structural and functional properties of tendons is of great importance, both for every type of training and for everyday life and mobility.
That is why we will try to briefly explain what they consist of and how these essential body structures perform their function.
The structure of the tendon can be divided into several levels, each of which has an impact on the function and properties of the tendon.
Tendons are mainly composed of collagen fibers, which are arranged in parallel bundles to form the main structural component of the tendon. These collagen fibers are interwoven with small amounts of elastin and proteoglycan, which give the tendon elasticity and reduce friction.
At the macroscopic level, tendons consist of multiple fascicles, which are bundles of collagen fibers arranged in parallel.
Each fascicle is surrounded by a thin layer of connective tissue called the perimysium, which helps protect and structurally support the fascicle.
Within each fascicle, the collagen fibers are arranged in parallel and are surrounded by a layer of connective tissue called the endomysium. The collagen fibers themselves are made up of smaller structures called fibrils, which are made up of individual collagen molecules.
These fibrils are aligned in a specific direction within the tendon to provide the tendon with its mechanical properties.
Collagen molecules themselves are made up of three chains of amino acids twisted together to form a triple helix.
This triple helix is what gives collagen its strength and stiffness, and is also responsible for the unique mechanical properties of tendons.
The collagen molecules within the tendon are cross-linked to form larger structures that are able to withstand high forces.
In addition to collagen, tendons also contain other components such as proteoglycans and elastin.
Proteoglycans are complex molecules that help provide elasticity to the tendon and reduce friction, while elastin is a protein that allows the tendon to stretch.
Overall, the hierarchical structure of tendons is critical to their function and properties.
The parallel arrangement of collagen fibers within the tendon allows it to transmit forces from muscle to bone, while the cross-linking of collagen molecules gives the tendon strength and stiffness.
Proteoglycans and elastin help provide tendon with its unique mechanical properties, allowing it to withstand high forces and maintain its shape and structure over time.
Function of tendons:
The function of the tendons is to connect the muscles to the bones and to transmit the force they generate, allowing movement and stability of the body.
When a muscle contracts, it creates a force that is transmitted through the tendon to the bone to which it is attached. This force allows the bones to move in a certain direction, allowing us to perform various movements such as walking, running and lifting.
Tendons also play a key role in regulating the amount of force that muscles can generate.
By transferring force from muscle to bone, tendons allow the muscle to generate more force than it could on its own. This is especially important for activities that require a lot of strength, such as lifting heavy weights.
Another important function of tendons is to provide joint stability.
By attaching to the bones on either side of the joint, tendons help keep the joint in its proper position and prevent excessive movement that can lead to injury.
Tendons are also designed to be strong and stiff, allowing them to withstand high forces without tearing or snapping. This strength and stiffness is critical for activities that require high force, change of direction, or explosive movements such as jumping or sprinting.
Overall, the function of tendons is to allow us to perform a wide range of movements and activities by transferring the forces generated by our muscles to our bones. Their strength and stiffness also play a key role in maintaining stability and preventing injury during physical activity.
Training and tendons:
Training can have a significant impact on tendon structure and function.
In particular, resistance training has been shown to increase the stiffness and strength of tendons, allowing them to withstand greater forces.
However, training can also lead to tendon injuries if not performed correctly. Overuse injuries such as tendinopathy can occur when a tendon is subjected to constant stress without sufficient rest and recovery. This can lead to degeneration of tendon tissue, resulting in pain and impaired function.
To avoid tendon injuries during training, it is essential to adhere to proper training techniques and allow adequate rest and recovery time between sessions. Gradually increasing the intensity and volume of training can also help avoid overuse injuries.
Therefore, choosing the right training program and the right trainer is of great importance for your future athletic career, or even if you just want to maintain mobility and vitality!