Internal or external, they share the same faith... The days of scars and adhesions are numbered under the hands of a capable body worker.
What are scars and adhesions
Scar tissues and adhesions are a part of the body’s natural healing cycle. They can be internal or external and in an ideal scenario, the body itself would eliminate them as the trauma heals. Often the redundant adhered tissues, however, are not broken down. They may even continue spreading which triggers a cascade of compensations.
It is useful to distinguish between scars and adhesions.
Scar tissue can be further classified as external or internal. External, as the name suggests, can be found on the surface of the skin. Internal, on the other hand, is situated below the skin and can form patch-like adhesions affecting and pulling the surrounding soft tissues.
There are some distinguishing characteristics that help recognise scars. The skin and sometimes the underlying tissues can become hard and non-pliable and the bands of fibres can be palpated. The skin usually becomes tight and short, which can compromise the joint integrity and function and limit its range of motion.
There are numerous long-term detriments that can come from scar tissue formation. These collagenous formations can prohibit adequate circulation. This limits lymph drainage, blood flow and oxygen delivery in the area. This is not only dysfunctional but also makes the area slower to heal. The resulting stress can lead to impinged nerves, numbness, pins and needles. Postural misalignment and reduced flexibility are likely to occur as well. This also increases the risk of future injuries.
It is important to consider what is the phase of scar healing as one considers the most appropriate tools to use.
How to release scars and adhesions
By addressing scar tissue early in its development, a body worker can help minimise the related problems and prevent future ones. Some of the following interventions can be applied as soon as the wound is closed. It is important to emphasise that the approach needs to be gentle in the immature phase.
It is important always warm up the tissue with effleurage and petrissage before applying any of the more invasive tools we’ll discuss. It is essential to alternate the tools you use in a way that varies the intensity. This ensures the client’s body and nervous system are not excessively stressed.
A soft tissue therapist has a variety of tools that work well:
By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
For example, a client presented himself with some deeper muscular adhesions and superficial scarring following a recent knee surgery. First, I warmed up the muscles above and below the knee. Next, I applied some deep frictions to adhesions I identified. I followed up with some STR techniques on the quads. This was followed by some passive stretching and eccentrics. Finally, I performed some gentle stretching and draining strokes over the superficial scarring. The deeper techniques were alternated with effleurage to avoid overstressing the client’s nervous system and promote elimination of waste.
The physiology of scar tissue removal techniques
Understanding what actually happens in the body not only makes us educated but also more confident in the technique that we are applying. And belief is a fundamental aspect of healing.
Without going into detail of how every single tool works, the following effects are worth mentioning:
Providing high-quality massage during the immature phase of a scar prevents further formation and can speed up healing. This is also a time of great vulnerability, however. So, the practitioner needs to use their educated judgment and consult a higher medical professional if necessary.
Additionally, it is advisable to discontinue the technique, except for deep frictions, if it causes pain or redness to the client. Open lesions should never be treated and extreme caution is recommended when working with radiated tissues. With the techniques that do not involve gliding, it is recommended to perform them without lubrication. This prevents unnecessary sliding of the hands and fingers.
The principle to always keep in mind is ‘do no harm’. At the same time, a targeted and well-executed massage can do a lot of good for the client’s body both locally and systemically.
Soft tissue therapy for muscle strains