There are two types of soft, fibrous connective tissues in the human body that support muscles and bones. These are your tendons and ligaments.

So, what is the difference?

The easiest way to remember the difference between tendons and ligaments is fairly simple:

  • Ligaments attach a bone to a bone
  • Tendons hold a muscle and a bone together

At the onset of any soft tissue injury, most of us are usually more focused on the pain and inconvenience of the injury than anything else. But understanding the difference between a ligament vs tendon is important for a speedy recovery and a return to action, especially for athletes.

In ligaments, the fibrous tissue is interwoven in a crisscross pattern, similar to the fibres found in a strong rope. This type of connective pattern provides flexibility, stability, and strength necessary for optimal efficiency of the bone joints.

On the other hand, the fibres found in tendons run in a parallel fashion that provides support, but allows for more elasticity. As muscles begin to work, tendons pull the bone into action.

This combination of soft tissue provides bones and muscles with enough cushion and support to spring into action in one coordinated moment.

With a ligament or tendon injury, though, the body’s ability to react and perform as usual can range from significantly decreased performance to downright impossible to use at all.