THE ELASTIC, COLLAGEN-BASED, CONNECTIVE TISSUES

Water aside, Collagen is the most abundant material found in connective tissue, making up 1/3 of the body’s protein.  Collagen is the perfect materiel to resist injury because of its combination of strength and elasticity.  Unlike most proteins, which form clumps when gathered together, collagen is fibrous and can form mats (like the PLANTAR FASCIA), sheets (like FASCIAL MEMBRANES), bands (like LIGAMENTS), or chord-like structures (such as TENDONS and MUSCLES).

The word ‘Collagen’ comes from the Greek language and means “glue producer.” Collagen is the substance that “glues” or “connects” the various parts of the body together. This is why most of the collagen-based tissues in the body are generically known as “connective tissue”.

Some collagen-based connective tissues like bone and most cartilages, are part of your body’s load-bearing framework. Their purpose is to withstand compressive forces, while maintaining the body’s structure and shape.  On the other side of this coin are the elastic, collagen-based, connective tissues, whose chief job is resist the tensile forces that are constantly trying to pull the body apart.   In other words, these tissues must be able to stretch without tearing.

Triple Helix Structure of Collagen Fibrils.

When healthy, these elastic, collagen-based tissues are all very similar (some, like ligaments and tendons, tend to be a bit less elastic than fascia and muscles). However, if you were to look at any of these tissue under a microscope, you would notice that the individual collagen fibers all align in a very orderly and organized parallel fashion to each other —- sort of like well-combed hair.

Collagen is made up of tiny fibers composed of chains and cross-links. These cross-links are one of the reasons that collagen is so strong. However, Collagen’s ability to cross-link is a double edged sword. In similar fashion to a net, the more cross-links there are, the stronger the tissue is.  But in the body, there is always a give and take. As we have all experienced; the stronger the rope, the less flexible it will be.

When these elastic, collagen-based connective tissues are injured by overuse (jobs, sports, etc) or trauma (sports, car wrecks, etc), they become disorganized and tend to take on a “Woven Basket” appearance microscopically. We end up with tissues whose microscopic fibers run every which way, in all three dimensions. The injured tissue becomes very disorganized, with individual fibers acting more like a wadded up and tangled “hairball” than well-combed hair. As you can imagine, this “micro-scarring” is a big problem. 

If you want to learn more about this ‘Scar Tissue’ that the medical community refers to as Fibrosis, I created the COLLAGEN SUPER PAGE just for you (tons of pictures, and information on healing times).  For you who are simply interested in how all of these facts are converted into clinical results, you can visit our VIDEO TESTIMONIAL PAGE.

 

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