How To Assess and Treat Your Scars

How to assess and treat your scars

Did you know that your scars, whether from surgeries, falls, or even tattoos, can provide significant psychological and functional consequences? The great thing is that scars are a normal part of healing, but what happens is our collagen fibers that are normally aligned in a parallel fashion, lay down in a haphazard direction. Because of this, the myofascial tissue is much stronger, however, it is not as elastic and typically not as functional.

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Our fascial tissue is considered our ectoskeleton—the glue that holds us together. It surrounds all of our muscles and organs. It has seven times more sensory nerves than our muscles do. Therefore, these scars are very sensory driven so they can disrupt the information coming from our tissue to our brain. Ultimately that can change different types of movement patterns that might be happening in the body, contributing to pain or even injury.

For example, if you have had a C-section or other type of abdominal surgery, the scars and adhesions from that can affect how the deep core is stabilizing as an integrated unit. This will affect the transverse abdominous, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and so on.

If you’ve had back surgery and you have scars in the back that can attribute to how the tissues around the spine are stabilizing and firing. If you’ve had a chemo port scar, that can attribute to the way that your shoulder is firing. The list goes on. You want to just recognize that scars are a very integral part of a movement and it’s something that can be assessed and addressed.

What To Look For When Assessing Your Scars

Here are some things to look for when assessing your scars:

1) Color – Red or white?

2) Scar height – What is the thickness?

3) Pliability – How extensible is the tissue? You can move your scar in different directions to see which direction is more restricted.

4) Surface texture – How does the scar feel overall as you glide over the tissue?

5) Sensitivity

6) What is the story that it tells? 

After you’ve assessed your scar, the next step would be to begin to treat it. You want to think of this as a very gentle, yet intentional approach.

How To Treat Your Scars

Here is how to treat your scars:

1) Desensitization

You can use a washcloth and just gently rub it over the scar. That is to desensitize any type of hypersensitive scar if you found it to be painful. 

2) Feathering and Gliding

This is used as a great general technique to warm up and relax the tissue.

3) Smudging Technique

After you’ve done that, if needed, then you can begin by a basic smudging technique where you put pressure with your hand into the skin and you’re moving the skin over the tissue. You are moving the skin gently in the direction where it felt more restricted and hold that for a period of time.

4) Circles

Then you could do gentle circles on the scar as well as around the scar to make sure you improve the elasticity of the scar.

5) Long Holds

Lastly, long holds can be used when there are noted restrictions in the elasticity of the tissue.

6) Rocktape

You can also use rock tape.

Remember when working on scars we are not breaking up the tissue. Forces over 2,000 pounds per square inch are needed in order to actually break up the tissue.  What you are doing is helping to make the tissue more elastic and pliable. You are also helping to reorganize those collagen fibers so that they are aligned properly as opposed to that haphazard direction. This can help improve how the tissue is moving in that general vicinity and beyond. 

7) Integration 

The last step is integration. You want to integrate whatever type of scar work you did into healthy mindful intentional movement. For example, if you were doing some type of scar work on the abdomen, you would want to do breathwork perhaps pelvic floor activation, and then some type of integration into an actual movement where you can put all those things together. This could be something like a dead bug exercise, bird dog exercise, or some kind of basic stabilization exercise. 

Now you know how to assess your scar, as well as treat it.

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