Tendons and Ligaments: What Are The Major Differences Between Tendons and Ligaments

Tendons and ligaments

Both tendons and ligaments are dense connective tissues that connect bone to bone or bone to muscle. They help in easing movement and prevent bone or muscle injury. Tendons and ligaments are made of collagen that absorb the pressure from stress. Apart from being connective tissues, they have no crucial similarities in common.

Let’s discuss what are they and what are the major tendons and ligaments difference in detail.




Ligaments are fibrous bands of connective tissues that connect bone to bone and help stabilize joints. They also protect the joint and enable them to perform a range of motion. The ligaments are highly elastic and flexible and can endure stress during joint motions such as running, pushing, or bending.

 The anterior cruciate ligament is the longest ligament in the body that connects the thigh bone to the shinbone.




Tendons are located all over the body from head to feet. They connect muscle to bone and help them execute different motions. For example, the Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body, connects calf muscles to heels and distress the extra pressure of heels. Similarly, Rotator cuff tendons in the shoulders help rotate and move the shoulder joint.

That’s not it. There are more differences between ligaments and tendons. Here is a detailed breakthrough of how these connective tissues are different from each other.


   Basis Of Difference Ligaments Tendons
Location Ligaments are tough elastic bands around the joints. They are found in all major joints including knees, elbow, shoulders, wrist, and hip. Tendons are strong, flexible collagen fibers that work as ropes. They are found all over the body, connecting muscle to bone. For example, tendons in the wrist contract to help you grapple things.
Structural difference

Ligaments are short bands of connective tissues that help joints execute a full range of motions. They also provide cushioning and protection to joints when they bend to their maximum range of motion.

Tendons are flexible(but lesser than ligaments) fibrous cords. They bind our bones to muscles and help muscles contract and relax for performing a range of motions. Tendons also have cells and tissues that repair themselves when damaged.

Types Ligaments are found on joints.
 The knee joint ligament that connects the femur to the tibia includes Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Posterior Cruciate Ligament ( PCL), Medial Cruciate Ligament( MCL), Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL).
Elbow Ligament-comprises Ulnar collateral ligament and radial collateral ligament.
Shoulder Ligament– ligament in the shoulder connects the humerus to the shoulder blade. They also connect the clavicle, collar bone, or top shoulder blade.
Ankle ligament- There are several ligaments in the ankle that help to hold joints in position. The major ones are -anterior talofibular ligament, posterior talofibular ligament and calcaneofibular ligament.
Tendons include
Tenocytes- mature tendon cells
Tenoblast- spindle-shaped immature tendon cells.
 They combine in different ratios forming primary, secondary, and tertiary bundles of tendons to support the muscle-bone motion.
Functionality  There is a total of 900 ligaments in the body. Their function is to
-Support joint movements
-Stabilize muscles and bones
-Prevent joint dislocation
-Prevent the twisting of joints, and strengthen joints
Tendons anywhere in the body help ease bone movement by contracting and relaxing muscles. They are stiffer than muscles and can endure huge strength. For example, the ankle tendons can endure eight times the body’s weight.
Injuries and symptoms Ligaments are often torn during sports injury or joints overuse. Their symptoms include
-Pain Popping
-Snapping sounds from joint swelling
-Weakness in jointsTrouble bearing weight in the affected limbs.
Due to overuse or accident, a tendon may rupture, called tendonitis, causing the following Indications:
-Severe weakness, and pain in the injury site. –Inability to move injured part.
-Inability to use arm, leg, shoulder due to tendon rupture.
-Rapid and immediate bruising.
Other differences -It connects bone to bone.
-It is highly elastic with huge strength.
-It connects bone ends to joints.
-The ligament fibers are compactly packed.
-They have lesser collagen content.
-Compared to tendons, they have a lesser blood supply.
-Tendons bind bone to muscle.
-They are firm and inelastic.
-The fiber is compacted in parallel bundles.
-Collagen content is far higher than ligaments. -They have a rich blood supply. That is why a small rupture causes considerable inflammation of the tendon injury site.
                                                                                     differences between ligaments and tendons

Prevention Methods 

Some incidents such as accidents or sudden stumble cannot be prevented, but other motions can. These precautions can be taken to avoid hurting tendons or ligaments-

  • Proper warm-up- Warm-up is extremely important before exercise as it increases blood circulation in the body and prepares it for intense actions during exercise. Inadequate or lack of warm-up before exercising may damage tendons and ligaments.
  • Start with lesser intensity and then build gradually- Typically, if you are new to exercising, you must perform at a beginner level first and then increase the levels. The scientific reason is that this methodology gives your body time to prepare before upgrading to the next level and prevents unnecessary injury due to the drill.
  • Listen to your body- Your body warns you with reflex signals such as pain, inflammation, or locking of the affected part, indicating damage to the body. These symptoms are self-preservation mechanisms to prevent greater damage. So, essentially you must be aware of your bodily reaction and listen to your body.
  • Maintain a routine for cardio and strength training- Cardio and strength training, both are necessary to the body from their own perspectives. Cardio activities are important to work your body, whereas strength training strengthens your tendons and ligaments and builds resilience from stress and sprains.
  • Take a day’s break from intense activities- A day break allows your body to heal naturally and rejuvenate for the next day.
  • Wear the right shoes and gymming apparel- You must wear the right shoes and apparel that enables you to exercise to the best of your potential without unnecessarily impeding your exercise moves.
  • Stretch before and after- Stretching or cooling down is synonymous. Stretching is necessary to cool down the body heated with intensive sports or gyming activities.

Treatments for a torn ligament or tendon rupture

This is often a case in sports injury. Most cases suffer due to lack of warm-up or excessive overuse of joints. Moreover, they can be resolved with conservative approaches such as medications, steroidal injection, or the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).

Dr. Rik Kundra is highly experienced and trained in providing sports injury ailments. He has a special interest in joint preservation or biological knee reconstruction through non-surgical approaches.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, do not forget to consult Dr. Rik for your case.


All content and media on this page are created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Meet Dr. Rik personally for appropriate medical diagnosis and advice.

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