CSCS Muscle Spindles vs. Golgi Tendon Organs

Jul 07, 2022

Edited by: Danielle Abel

What the heck is the difference between muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs?

The biggest difference between muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs (GTOs) is that spindles are located in the muscle and GTOs are located within the tendon.

  • Muscle = spindle
  • Golgi = tendon. 

Muscle spindles are small muscle fibers (intrafusal fibers) within the contractile muscles of the muscle fiber itself that are sensory, meaning they communicate back to the spinal cord and brain through nerves and then back to the same muscle to communication information about the muscle stretching. Muscle spindles are "hidden" within the contractile fibers (the actin & myosin) of the muscle. 

Muscle Spindles:

  • sense muscle stretch
  • cause muscle activation
  • facilitates muscle movement

For example in a baseball pitch in the lay-back phase (pulling the arm back behind the head) the muscle spindles sense the stretch and cause the muscle contraction. 

Golgi Tendon Organ

The golgi tendon organ is not within the muscle like the spindles; it is situated inside the tendon. The tendon is the tissue that connects the muscle to the bone. There are thousands of these GTOs inside the tendon. 

  • they sense tension within the tendon 
  • causes muscle inhibition
  • prevents overstretching of the muscle and facilitates relaxation

Support & Courses Available

Ready for more support to help you prep for the CSCS exam? Join our Facebook Group, “Strength and Conditioning Study Group,” here. Ready for even more? Our 24-module CSCS Prep Course has exercise physiology concepts like this one completely laid out for you with even more content than what we’ve provided here, plus chapter quizzes to help you pass the NSCA exam; click the link here to check it out.




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