Function and biomechanics of tendons

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 1997 Apr;7(2):62-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.1997.tb00120.x.


Tendon is a highly organized connective tissue joining muscle to bone, capable of resisting high tensile forces while transmitting forces from muscle to bone. The dense, regularly arranged collagenous tissue is made up of fibers, cells of various shapes and ground substance. The mechanical and physiological characteristics of collagen (nearly 85% of the dry weight of tendon) dictate the qualities of tendon. In addition, tendon is flexible so that it can bend at joints, as well as acting as a damping tissue to absorb shock and limit potential damage to muscle (1). Tendon also shows a degree of extensibility. If the strain used to stretch a tendon could be recovered, a beneficial elastic effect would be achieved. Muscles lengthen and shorten in a cyclical manner. During the lengthening period, elastic energy can be stored and used as elastic recoil. For example, the Achilles tendon is stretched late in the stance phase as the triceps surae muscles contract and the ankle dorsiflexes. Prior to plantarflexion, muscle activation ceases and stored energy helps to initiate planter flexion.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Aging / physiology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Collagen / physiology*
  • Elastin / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immobilization
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Tensile Strength


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Collagen
  • Elastin