Scar tissue release using Myofascial techniques
Myofascial release is a term being used more and more often in the massage and rehabilitation world these days, and for good reason. It has been proven to provide a huge amount of benefits to those receiving treatment, and with research still going on it is an exciting world to be a part of both as a practitioner, and as a patient.
But, what actually is myofascial release? What is fascia? How can it help you? How can it help with scars and scar tissue? I am here to answer all these questions for you as I recently attended a myofascial release course with a focus on scar tissue.
So, first and foremost, what IS fascia and why should you care?
Fascia is the most abundant tissue type within the body, primarily made of collagen. It is what holds and stabilises our organs, attaches the skin to bones and other tissues and muscles, and separates the muscles from other internal organs. Fascia has the incredible ability to absorb any shock to the system (even when you stub your toe!) and its capacity to withstand trauma is very high. Fascia remembers everything, even when you forget!
Scar tissue itself is built up of layers of fascia, and occurs as a result of physical trauma (either from surgery or similar injury). This density is often what creates a pull on the tissues deep under the skin, which can then in turn cause pain. It’s this pain I aim to treat. If you have tissues pulling you in one direction, it can often lead to compensations in other areas; for example a scar on the abdomen can cause the body to contract inwardly, causing a rounding of the shoulders, thus causing a curve in the upper back. This can lead to a myriad of other problems within the body. The good news is, it can be helped! It is NEVER too late to treat an old injury or scar through myofascial release. There can always be improvements.
Day 1 of the course I recently attended went over the fundamentals of fascia including its structure, the history and why it hasn’t been studied more closely before. In previous years, the fascia was actually removed when studying a human cadaver.
When looking at the pictures below, you can understand why it was ignored. The left is from a cadaver, the right is from live surgery showing the living fascia.
Researchers such as Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau have taken it upon themselves to prove that fascia is a living, breathing aspect of our bodies just like any other organ. In previous years, due to its gelatinous structure, fascia was removed post mortem when conducting research on the human body. As you can see from the above images, it has a rather weblike structure, much like a cobweb!
Day 2 went into further detail about how to use these Myofascial techniques on the abdomen, across c section scars, how to guide a patient through any emotions that may surface during the release (as is common for women that have been through a c section operation) and how to work on adhesions on bony surfaces (such as ankles and hips).
These techniques are not just for those that have physical scarring you can see, they are also for helping internal adhesions caused by various issues ranging from endometriosis to irritable bowel syndrome. The abdomen isn’t often an area that gets touched via massage, it’s a vulnerable area and a lot of people consider it a “no touch” zone. Myofascial release is so gentle (and surprisingly relaxing!) that it can be quite comforting. I highly recommend anyone to try it, regardless of whether they have scars or internal issues to completely understand the warmth of such a soft but effective touch.
Day 3 covered keyhole surgeries. “Keyhole surgery? But that’s less invasive than open surgery!” I hear you say…. Wrong. Think about it, you have a camera going into a small incision site, through layers of tissues and muscle in order to get to the injury site. The damage left through such surgeries may leave you with only a small surface scar, but the internal damage can often be just as great. I even had my own scars worked on for this and the experience was incredible. The sensations through my hip joint were so interesting, I could almost feel the line of adhesions myself and feel exactly where the tightness was and where I needed further release work.
In the afternoon I had the privilege to work on a woman who’d had both knees replaced over ten years ago. Her right knee had given her nothing but problems for the last 7 years. First impressions of the scar were that it was incredibly swollen, the skin was taut and shiny, and there was very little mobility in the joint. The scar itself, though tight, was actually quite neat. 1 hour later, utilising a mixture of techniques including compression along the scar itself, it was like looking at a completely different knee. There was still a little swelling, but the mobility she had compared to when she arrived was huge. You could see where the knee cap was. You could physically move the skin on the surface and gently pinch a little of the tissues around the knee.
All of these improvements were due to the gentle power of Myofascial release. She left feeling much more positive and in less pain. Imagine what more treatments could do!
Overall, this course has taught me that inviting the tissues to release through a more gentle medium, is just as if not more effective than sports massage alone. It is a technique that I will be attending further training in over the next year.
If you are interested in coming to see me for myofascial release, whether it be for scar tissue release or muscle tightness, get in touch with us!