The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







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.

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