This article refers to orthopedic contractures, i.e., permanent shortening of muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments. For short-term contraction of muscles, including the normal action and function of muscles, see Muscle contraction. For non-orthopedic types of contractures, see the "See Also" section below.
Contractures are essentially muscles or tendons that have remained too tight for too long, thus becoming shorter. Once they occur, it is often argued that they cannot be stretched or exercised away (they must be released with orthopedic surgery). Most of the physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other exercise regimens targeted towards people with spasticity focuses on trying to prevent contractures from happening in the first place. However, research on sustained traction of connective tissue in approaches such as adaptive yoga has demonstrated that contracture can be reduced, at the same time that tendency toward spasticity is addressed.