Tendons: Visualizing How the Fingers Work

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 14, 2010

Skeletal muscles are responsible for the movement of bones. As a muscle contracts, it pulls on the bone to produce movement. Cordlike bands of tissue called tendons connect muscles to bone. The tendon transmits the force of the muscle contraction to the bone, allowing the muscle action to work from a distance. Your hands contain many little bones in a small space. The tendons in the hand are long and skinny, but extremely strong. The muscles that work these tendons are located higher up the arm. This activity will enable you to see some tendons in action.




  1. Look at the top of your hand. Extend your fingers out as far as you can. Tense your hand and really stretch to elongate the fingers and hand. Do you see some structures that look like cords or bands on top of your hand? Take the index finger of your opposite hand and rub over the top of these structures.
  2. Curl your hand into a claw-like shape. Do you see the tendons on top of the hand?
  3. Wiggle your index finger up and down. Try to trace the path of the tendon.
  4. Wiggle all your fingers up and down. Try and trace the path of the tendons to each finger.

Follow-Up Questions

  1. What do the tendons on the top of your hand look like?
  2. When you wiggled your fingers, where did the muscle action seem to originate when you traced the tendon back up the hand?


  1. The tendons look like little cords or ropes under the skin.
  2. Answers will vary, but students should indicate the action of the tendons can be traced back up the forearm.


One very important structure in the heel is the Achilles tendon. A tear in the Achilles can end the career of a professional athlete. Wiggle your foot up and down and use your hand to try to locate that tendon. What do you think this tendon allows your foot to do?

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