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Ligament, Tendon, Muscle - What's the difference?

Ligament, Tendon, Muscle - What's the difference?

This topic seems to cause a lot of confusion with people so let me explain the difference because they are not the same thing.

Ligaments, tendons and muscles are all tissues of the body that can be injured. This is how they are similar.

A Ligament is a tough fibrous connective tissue that connects bone to bone so all joints will have ligaments like the knee, ankle, spine etc.

The main ligament that many people hurt is the sacroiliac (SI) ligament in the lower back. This is the small of the back where the two indentations are either side of the spine.

A Tendon is a tough fibrous connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. It is very similar in structure to a ligament.

A common injury to a tendon is tennis elbow (Lateral epicondylitis) where the common extensor tendon gets injured.

A Muscle is soft tissue that contains protein filaments that slide past each other. Because of this action, muscles produce movement.

We have all heard the phrase, “a pulled muscle” which is where the muscle itself has become injured usually from overuse.

(Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at

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