What is Scar Tissue?
There are different words used for this. Some call it fibrotic tissue, scar tissue or adhesions. Although these different names are used, the concept is the same. This fibrotic tissue can affect us in different ways and is the cause for many injuries.
How does it affect us?
Scar tissue prevents muscles from moving freely and performing effectively by binding tissue together. As scar tissue increases the muscles become weaker, decreasing tissue flexibility. This can put a greater stress on the tendons and nerves and can cause injury, weakness, numbness and change in sensation.
Scar tissue is a natural form of healing and is formed in two main ways. The first is when a muscle, ligament or tendon is torn either through injury or microtears in the muscles through working out. The scar tissue is created to act a glue for the torn muscle tissue. The second, is when the muscle tissue doesn’t receive enough oxygen. This is called Hypoxia and can be caused by Poor posture, Physical exercise, sustained positions and stress as they all increase muscle tension. When there is tension, the blood supply is reduced. Blood carries oxygen to muscles and reduced blood flow means less oxygen. Hypoxia results in the accumulation of free radicals and they attract cells that produce scar tissue. Scar tissue is laid down over time and begins effecting the tissues of muscles ligaments and tendons.
What does scar Tissue cause?
Decreased Muscle Flexibility Scar tissue build up means the muscle flexibility and elasticity is decreased and therefore does not function as well as healthy muscle tissue. Since the muscle length is decreased is can cause decreased range of motion at a joint.
Decreased Speed/ Performance A muscle with dense scar tissue may struggle to get the same speed of lengthening and contracting. For optimal performance muscles need to be able to lengthen and contract with speed. An example in a Football game would be the quadriceps shortening and the hamstrings lengthening through the kicking action. If the quadriceps contract at their required/normal speed, but the hamstrings lengthening is slowed down by scar tissue, a tear can result.
Decreased Strength Scar tissue binds muscles together. There is then less functional muscle accessible to work. Strength is decreased if fewer muscle fibers are functioning correctly.
Nerve Entrapment If a nerve is lying next to scar tissue is could be become adhered instead of sliding through and around muscles, like it should do. Scar tissue can adhere/ glue the nerve to the muscle. The nerve becomes tensioned instead of sliding as it is supposed to when you move the limb.
What can you do about it?
The body doesn’t have a natural way of dealing with the scar tissue. A combination of Soft Tissue Release and Soft Tissue Mobilization, as well as Sports massage techniques can be very effective in reducing scar tissue build up. Sports Massage and other soft tissue techniques also help in creating healthy muscle tissue and preventing its return and further formation. It can help with injury prevention.