I’ve reached a breaking point with the amount of clients I’ve seen with overactive scar tissue. If you’ve had surgery or have significant scars, you need to understand the importance of scar tissue massage.
When you’ve had surgery, your brain sends loads of information to that area in order to heal. That’s crucially important. The injured area needs to heal.
The problem arises after the injured area is healed: our brains don’t have a way of letting go. In many cases, it can’t abandon the injury.
The brain keeps sending information for months or years after the surgery. Then the scar tissue becomes an overactive area. It’s hyper-stimulated and taking priority over other muscles.
Overactive Scar Tissue
Let me provide two examples.
Let’s look at how an elbow scar was causing pain and dysfunction in one of my clients neck muscles.
“Harry” came to me reporting significant pain in his neck and shoulders. He is a commercial airline pilot and has to always turn his head to the left to look at the captain during flights. When I tested the muscles that turn his head to the left, it produced pain. So, I had to find what relieved the pain.
He had a surgery, years prior, to repair a torn biceps tendon. His scar from the surgery was on the outside of his left elbow. When he touched his scar, there was no pain during the test. So, his homework was to massage the scar tissue to calm it down. Then, activate the muscles that had been weakened by the overactive scar.
“Mary” hired me to get her started on an exercise routine. Before I prescribe exercise, I like to know how muscles are functioning. So, I did some muscle testing first. She had had a couple knee surgeries. That was a red flag for me to look at the function of muscles surrounding her knee, specifically her quads and hamstrings.
One of her quadricep muscles tested weak. She had a few incision points from the surgery, so we had to figure out which one was overactive. I kept testing the quad with her fingers touching each scar until we found the one that made the quad test strong.
Her homework was to massage the specific scar and strengthen her quadricep.
Lastly, I’ve had a personal experience with massaging my c-section scar which you can read about here.
Scar Tissue Massage
Luckily, scar tissue massage is super simple. All you need to do is gently rub the scar itself for 1-2 minutes. You can rub up to 1 inch radius around the scar since scar tissue lays down in a large area. You may find an area near the scar that feels more dense or even painful. Be gentle, but this is likely a hyper-specific area that needs attention. Massaging your scar tissue tells the brain to let go and move on.
I love this quote from physical therapist, Julie Wiebe, “Your brain is stronger than any of your muscles.” That’s the truth!
I’ve seen hysterectomy and other abdominal scars shutting down core function in clients 15+ years after surgery. Rehab after surgery needs to include scar tissue massage. Wait at least 6 weeks and ensure that your scar is healed before starting massage. Being proactive about scar tissue massage could save you from pain down the road.