Scar Love and Care
Isn't it amazing how our bodies heal after a scratch, a cut, or surgery? Collagen fibers mend the damaged tissue and voila--an open wound is now closed and we have a scar!
Scar tissue is not as uniform as our original tissue and can be red, raised, restricted, and sensitive (or desensitized if small nerve endings were damaged). Few people are ever told after a surgery to massage their scar. It's one of my pet peeves! I work with many women who've had c-sections and are never told how to care for their scar!
Scar tissue, if restricted can impact tissue movemant locally and and distally from the scar, impacting fascial slide and glide as well as muscle function. Scar restrictions can distort our biomechanics with movement, reduce flexibility and range of motion, and be a contributing factor to pain--abdominal scars can play role in back pain! A restricted c-section scar can have an impact on your abdominal muscle recruitment, urinary incontinence and prolapse.
People will scar in different ways and some scars may require medical interventions like dermabrasion, collagen injections, laser resurfacing, cryosurgery, punch graphs, chemical peels, surgical scar revision, or cortisone injections. However, many times some intentional love and care to a scar by means of manual therapy can be enough to loosen the scar, facilitate smoothing, and desensitizing it. Sometimes scars can be painful or even trigger an emotional response! (I've worked with women who had traumatic birthing experiences requiring c-section and touching their scar for the first time, resurfaced tears and fear associated with their experience!)
In the clinic, after the scar has healed, I teach clients how to do self massage at their own pace and depending on their comfort level, I incorporate other modalities including suction cups, dry needling and kinesiotaping. With manual work, we try to get as deep into the scar as tolerated and move the tissue in circles, vertically or horizontally (see image below). With suction cups, we work on trying to lift to scar and fascial tissue upward to promote better slide and glide. With dry needling, placing the needles almost horizontally under the scar tissue, we try to promote collagen restructuring. Kinesiotape can be a method of creating some passive scar massage as one goes about their daily movements and may be a good first step if touching the scar intially brings up strong emotions.
Whether you are someone who has a c-section scar, an abdominal surgery scar, some other surgical scar or even a scar you got after gashing your elbow on a sharp edge (ahem! I did that!), give it some love and massage or seek a therapist who can guide you!