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Ligaments and tendons

What are ligaments and tendons?

Ligaments and tendons make it possible for us to hold and move our bodies. Together with the bones, muscles and joints, they form the human musculoskeletal system. Sitting, squatting, lying or stretching - without ligaments and tendons we would not be able to move.

What is the difference between ligaments and tendons?

So that Joints move smoothly and do not rub against each other, the joint bones are protected by a layer of cartilage. Permanent excessive stress, for example due to overweight, sporting activities but also due to malpositions, can lead to wear and tear of the cartilage. The cartilage layer becomes thinner and thinner until it almost completely dissolves. As a result, the ends of the bones meet each other unprotected, which can cause considerable pain. The bone structure in the joint area changes. Movements are then only possible in a painful state. In some cases, the wear and deformation can also lead to stiffness of the joints.

Osteoarthritis often creeps in without the affected person consciously noticing it. The degenerative processes in the joints do not always lead to pain immediately. The first symptoms can be, for example, difficulty getting up or uncomfortable sitting.

How do tendons work?

Tendons consist of collagenous connective tissue fibres that run next to each other and are tightly bound together in bundles - similar to a rope. Contrary to popular belief, however, they are not rigid but can be stretched by ten to 15 per cent in their tissue structure. When unloaded, they run slightly wavy and thus provide a kind of spring for damping the transmission of force to the bone.

In order to be able to transfer muscle power to our inherently rigid skeleton and set it in motion, tendons are fused with the muscle fibres on one side and attach to the bones on the other. In some places - such as our wrist - they run at an angle over bony prominences and are subject to high tension. To reduce strong friction between tendon and bone during movements, they are protected by tendon sheaths whose fluid acts like a lubricating oil.

When we move, the muscles contract first. This pull is passed on to the tendons, which - comparable to the strings of a marionette - transmit the movement to the bones. As a result, we can lift our leg or clench our hand into a fist, for example.

How do tapes work?

So while tendons serve as force transmitters and make us mobile in the first place, ligaments have the task of stabilising and supporting our joints. Ligaments are connective tissue links between two bones and are essentially made of collagen. In general, they are not very elastic, which is why they can quickly be overstretched and then become slack or even tear completely. But they must be relatively inflexible, because: Ligaments stabilise our joints from the inside as well as the outside and restrict their mobility to a functionally sensible level. In this way, they protect against overstretching of muscles and tendons.

What complaints can occur

Injuries to ligaments can occur both in sport and in everyday life and are primarily caused by rapid (twisting) movements. If ligaments are stretched beyond their natural extent, for example when you twist your foot, they can be damaged. Typical sports injuries include stretched or torn ligaments. If left untreated, a ligament injury can have significant consequences: The joints can remain unstable for a long time and further injuries or damage can occur.

Tendon injuries are often identical to tendon ruptures. You may cut yourself on a knife or a sharp piece of glass and accidentally sever the tendon. Often, however, the tendon is suddenly stretched too far, causing it to rupture. This so-called tendon rupture can happen, for example, during ball sports. If the tendon is completely torn, the connection between the muscle and the bone is also destroyed and movement is impaired - an operation is then often unavoidable.

Tendonitis, on the other hand, is less drastic. If a tendon is strained on one side or excessively over a long period of time, it can become painfully inflamed. Often the tendons' points of origin or attachment are affected and cause pain with every movement. Tendinitis of the wrist is a typical "office disease".

Sitting activities in combination with a lack of exercise or a one-sided load or overload often cause weak points to develop that are often underestimated over a long period of time. One possible consequence: overstretched ligaments and shortened tendons can often cause back pain in addition to tense muscles.

What can you do for your tendons and ligaments in everyday life?

In addition to regular sport, you can also do a lot for your body and thus also for ligaments and tendons in your everyday office life. Avoiding incorrect postures or varying the sitting position helps to strengthen the muscles, stabilise the joints and thus relieve the strain on the ligaments. Balance and coordination training is also recommended to improve the interaction of muscles and movement.

The active seating furniture from Aeris challenges and promotes intuitive, natural movement. Aeris Swopper and Aeris 3Dee, for example, move in three dimensions and adapt to the body's natural movements at all times. Thanks to active-dynamic sitting, the joints are always in motion. This tightens ligaments and tendons, prevents joint wear and tear and you automatically do something for your health.