Massage Therapy to Heal Scar Tissue
Each day as we walk, run, sit, bend, lift or rest, our body’s complex web of fascia, ligaments and tendons work synergistically to help those movements occur. Strung in perfect balance and function throughout our structure, these connective tissues stretch, tighten and hold as needed when we engage our daily activities. Ideally movement is smooth and painless but injury, surgery and other damage can cause disruptions to this inner network inhibiting motion and causing discomfort. Such constrictions are the result of the formation of scar tissue in specific areas where wounding took place.
How Does Scar Tissue Form?
Any damage to connective tissues through cuts (surgery, wounds), fractures, inflammation, burns, rips or tears generates scarring as a natural repair response in the body. The scar tissue that forms consists of collagen, a strong, fibrous protein that makes up one-third of the protein in the body.
Collagen molecules are dense, fibrous strings of material that act as strong and flexible supporting structures responsible for anchoring the cells to each other in normal tissue. They also build scar tissue that glues severed connective tissue back together.
The collagen fibers in normal tissue have a random, multidirectional interwoven formation. The collagen in scar tissue has a different fibrous make-up that is more cross-linked and uni-directional than normal tissue. This scar tissue collagen alignment is more rigid and less functional than the normal collagen configuration.
Pathology of Scar Tissue
While the development of scar tissue is a natural and necessary healing response of the body, too much of it can have serious consequences to body function:
- An overproduction of collagen in the forming of scar tissue can overwhelm the damage site causing areas where the tissues begin to stick together rather than glide smoothly over each other. This prevents healthy regrowth of the tissue, lack of elasticity and impaired movement.
- Areas where scar tissue forms can become hard, stiff and un-pliable which may cause tightness and pain
- Fibrous bands can develop on a subcutaneously or on the skin that can pull and shorten the skin potentially causing restricted motion depending on location of the scar.
- Excessive scar tissue on the skin can be unsightly, and cause self-consciousness and shame.
- Long-term, dense scar tissue or adhesions (scar tissue that connects one part to another when those parts would not normally be connected.) can restrict proper blood and lymph circulation which can lead to dysfunction and stress on any structures in the surrounding area causing:
- Nerve impingement
- Pain and numbness
- Restricted range of motion and flexibility
- Muscle atrophy
How Scar Tissue Massage can diminish the effects of scar tissue ->
Especially if it is used when scar tissue is just developing, Scar Tissue Massage can:
- Reduce skin rippling and adhesions
- Soften tissue
- Relieve pain and pinching
- Increase range of motion
- Renew skin elasticity
- Smooth out lumps and bumps
- Promote proper lymph drainage and
- Encourage better blood flow to the tissues
Types of massage used in treating scar tissue:
- Lymph drainage techniques to support improved circulation
- Myofascial Release to ease constricted tissues at the scar and any underlying adhesions through the use of stretching and slow light hand massage movements.
- Deep Transverse Friction /Cross Friction Massage to assist in proper alignment of collagen fibers with the tissue to improve elasticity and function of the connective tissue
Scar tissue does not have to be a permanent issue in the body. Such protocols as targeted massage can minimise the negative effects, promote healing and support a return to a normal range of motion, strength and mobility after injury.