Tissues that generally support the body parts in various ways are known as the
connective tissues (CT).
All of these connective tissues are characterized by having the major substance
outside of the cell but formed by the cell. This extra-cellular material is called
One type of CT is called the fibrous connective tissue (FCT).
In FCT, the cell known as the fibroblast forms a long narrow thread-like structure
known as the fiber.
During the life of the individual, the fibroblast actually moves up and down the fiber.
During this movement, it keeps the fiber in repair and restructures it in response to the
stresses applied to the body.
Fiber Types in Fibrous Connective Tissue
Two types of fibers are found in fibrous connective tissue:
• collagen or white fibers
• elastic or yellow fibers
The collagen fibers are limited in stretchability, particularly when compared to the
Fibrous Connective Tissues
The fibers of the FCT are variously organized to perform particular functions.
In Loose Areolar Fibrous Connective Tissue the fibers are loosely arranged with spaces
between them. This tissue serves as filler material in the spaces between the organs.
This loose areolar FCT is also found between the skin and the underlying structures of the body.
Thus, the skin is able to move more or less freely over the surface of these structures.
In Dense Fibrous Connective Tissue the fibers are closely packed and more or less parallel.
As membranes, dense FCT envelops areas or structures of the body (as in capsules around
Other examples of dense FCT are ligaments and tendons. A ligament is a band of dense FCT
that holds the bones together at a joint. A tendon attaches a muscle to a bone.
Length and Tension
As a collagen fiber is increased in length, the tension (resistance to stretch)
increases considerably. This can be shown by a length-tension (L-T) curve diagram,
similar to the one in the graphic on the right.
Temperature and Tension
The degree of elasticity (stretchability) of an FCT is more or less proportional
to its temperature. The cooler it is, the less stretchable and the more subject to damage
it is. On the other hand, as the fiber becomes warmer, its stretchability and resistance
to damage increase.
This characteristic is the basis of warm-up exercises before participating in
strenuous activities such as sports. By exercising to the point of sensible perspiration
the body, temperature is raised to the desired level. At this level, the FCT
are able to stretch and withstand the various forces applied to them.
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