|Posted by stephan van breenen on March 6, 2011 at 10:30 PM|
Ligaments should be tight
Bones and their joint capsules supply the primary structure of our bodies. Muscle-tendon units enable our bodies to move these bones at the joints. Ligaments supply the stability we need at the joints in order for our movements to be controlled and safe. All these parts of thebody must do their individual jobs interdependently to allow uspain-free movement. For ligaments, this means that their fibers must be flexible enough to allow normal movement and yet tight enough to protect the joints and the bones they connect. Ligaments limit movement and provide stability so that we do not fall over when we walk, run or suddenly move to the side.
While it is healthy for us to have muscles that are loose and relaxed, it is not healthy for us to have ligaments that are loose. To appreciate the necessity for tight ligaments, imagine a door where the hinges are loose because the screws are not screwed in tightly. The loose hinges will allow the door to rock around until, eventually, the door or the frame, or both, become damaged or broken. In contrast, hinges that are securely attached to both door and frame allow the door to open and close smoothly, with no undue pressure on any part of the door’s structure.
Ligaments function in a similar way. When loose, ligaments allow too much movement at a joint and can lead to injury not only in the ligaments themselves, but also in the relevant joint capsule, tendons and muscles. Appropriately tight ligaments hold the joint stable during movement, thereby limiting the possibility of injury.
Ligaments can become loose in three ways: Through genetics, trauma or by the development of distended scar tissue.
• Genetically,an individual may be born with ligaments that are too long for hisbody’s structure. We all remember kids we would call“double-jointed” because they could get into all sorts of positions that were unimaginable for the rest of us. These individuals did not actually have two joints instead of one; they simply had ligaments that were longer than their joints needed,allowing them to be much more flexible than the norm. Unfortunately,these very flexible individuals are also very vulnerable to injury because they lack joint stability.
• Secondly,trauma from a sudden blow or a severe accident can, in a moment,stretch a ligament permanently.
• Thethird and very common method that leads to loose ligaments is thedevelopment of adhesive scar tissue. Whether the ligamentous scar tissue results from repeated injury or from surgery, it can stretchand distend over time. When it does, this distended scar tissue leaves the person vulnerable to further injury, often of a more serious nature.