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A ligament is a short band of tough fibrous connective tissue composed mainly of long, stringy collagen fibres. Ligaments connect bones to other bones to form a joint. (They do not connect muscles to bones; that is the function of tendons.) Some ligaments limit the mobility of articulations, or prevent certain movements altogether.
Capsular ligaments are part of the articular capsule that surrounds synovial joints. They act as mechanical reinforments. Extra-capsular ligaments join bones together and provide joint stability.
Ligaments are slightly elastic; under tension, they gradually lengthen. This is one reason why dislocated joints must be set as quickly as possible: if the ligaments lengthen too much, then the joint will be weakened, becoming prone to future dislocations. Athletes, gymnasts and martial artists perform stretching exercises to lengthen their ligaments, making their joints more supple. That is why some people are called double jointed! Not because they have two joints, but because they have strechy ligaments!
The study of ligaments is called Desmology.
This is the hormone that softens ligaments and tissues during pregnancy. The elasticity provides increased flexibility in the joints of the lower back and pelvis in preparation for childbirth.
Tom Bisio, A TOOTH FROM THE TIGER'S MOUTHIn general in the West, the tendons are considered to be rope-like extensions of the muscles that do not contract, yet strength exercises are recommended for preventing injury because they increase the stability of the joint. To do this there must be some increased strengthening of tendons and ligaments. In the East, there has traditionally been an emphasis on developing strength and power through natural movements that work the full length of the muscle evenly. The result is a long, smooth muscle that is strong at the muscle belly and the ends of the muscle. This kind of "tendon strength" can generate tremendous power that is not a product of bulging muscles. I will never forget my amazement at the powerful grip of one of my teachers who stood five feet three inches and weighed 120 pounds. At eighty-two, though his arm muscles looked flaccid, he had a grip like iron and could pull me off balance with ease. His strikes, which appeared to be light and weak, penetrated to my bones.
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