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What is Soft Tissue?

Sara Schmidt
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Soft tissue is a broad term that covers various groups of cells within the body. Each of these cell groups, or tissue, serves a purpose related to the body parts they are connected to. Some human tissues, such as tendons, simply serve as connective tissue in order to join body structures, while other tissues, like muscles, might help foster movement.

All tissues found within the body that are not those of bones or organs are considered soft tissues. The composition of soft tissue consists mainly of elastin and collagen. Ground substance, the non-cellular, fibrous components of a cell, also make up part of this tissue. In most cases, this arrangement accounts for the highly elastic and hydrated state of these cells.

Many body structures are joined together by soft tissue. Muscles and bones are connected to each other via tendons, which are another example of soft tissue. When two bones meet, they are also connected by soft tissues. In this case, the tissues are known as ligaments. Muscle itself is also an example of soft tissue.

Some soft tissues encompass other body structures for support or protection. An example would be fascia. Fascia is a layer of tissue that is fibrous and surrounds structures such as muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. It functions as a holding mechanism to keep these body structures aligned and supported, much like the cell membrane supports individual cells. The nerves and blood vessels themselves are also soft tissues, as is fat.

When people lose elasticity in the skin and develop wrinkles, they sometimes seek out treatments to counteract the aging process. Soft tissue fillers are sometimes used as these treatments. The fillers are injected into the skin to promote plumper, more elastic skin that appears more youthful.

Injuries to soft tissue cells are among the most common to humans. When key tissues, such as knee ligaments, are injured, pain and hardship using the knee may result. Though physicians can help in some ways, such as through pain management and physical therapy, many people with such injuries never regain a full use of the area again. Ankle sprains, tennis elbow, and many other common injuries are other examples of such injuries.

To protect soft tissues from damage, people are often advised to warm up the body prior to engaging in strenuous physical activity. This may include anything from sports, to high impact exercise, to lifting heavy items on the job. Taking a break when the body begins to feel strain is also important in preserving soft tissues.

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Sara Schmidt
By Sara Schmidt , Writer
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for The Health Board, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.

Discussion Comments

By anon1005162 — On Jul 02, 2021

I have soft tissue build up on my legs around my knee mostly. I was paralyzed form the waist down but PT and my willingness to walk was strong. I can walk with a cane, but I am huge around my knees and calves. They say it’s soft tissue. Can I get rid of it myself w/different exercising?

By cloudel — On Feb 03, 2013

I've been afraid to try soft tissue fillers on my wrinkles. I am scared that I'll become dependent upon them, and I'll wind up looking like a plastic surgery nightmare!

I've seen too many women with puffed up lips and cheeks trying to be twenty again while in their fifties. It's a scary sight, and it just doesn't look natural.

I hope I will be able to accept losing some soft tissue in my face as I age. I know it will be hard to watch my face change, but I think it's better than the alternative.

By healthy4life — On Feb 02, 2013

I'm finding that it is much easier to develop soft tissue pain as I age than it was when I was in my early twenties. Just doing a little bit of an activity that I'm not used to can make everything from my muscles to my tendons ache for days!

Of course, soft tissue pain is easier to treat than pain in a bone or an organ. Generally, either ice packs or heating pads will help, as will anti-inflammatory medicine.

By Oceana — On Feb 01, 2013

@giddion – I see your point, but I always think of soft tissue as anything that isn't rock hard. Bones are rock hard, but muscle isn't.

My husband is required to do stretches along with his coworkers before they begin their job. This is to prevent soft tissue injury.

He works in a warehouse lifting heavy boxes all day long. So, the muscles have to be properly warmed up before he begins.

I think it's good that the company requires that the employees stretch first. It is beneficial to both, because the workers are less likely to get hurt, and the company is less likely to have to pay out worker's compensation!

By giddion — On Jan 31, 2013

I think it's funny that muscles are considered soft tissue. When people are very toned and muscular, they are said to have hard bodies, so what a contradiction!

I get how fat is considered a soft tissue. It's very squishy and can be moved around easily.

Sara Schmidt

Sara Schmidt

Writer

With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for The Health Board, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
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