This week, scars came up multiple times with my clients. I think about 85% of my client base right now currently has assigned homework to release their scars at home.
Well, scars (when not properly rehabbed) elicit a stress response in the body and like to down-regulate muscles (kind of like turning down a light dimmer.)
I like to use the analogy of a detour sign during road construction.
When the body experiences injury or trauma (in this case a cut or injury) it sends a message to the brain to start using a different route (alternative nerve communication pathways) to get the goal (movement) accomplished.
As a result the body starts compensating to avoid pain or further injury, it does this to protect you! The easiest example of a compensation pattern to protect you from pain is rolling your ankle and limping. HOW AMAZING! BUT until we tell the body to remove the detour sign, and remind it that it is okay to start using the old road again, it continues using that detour route (compensatory pattern) to get the job done, and continues sending a stress response to the brain.
Yesterday I had a client with a 15+ year old appendectomy scar. She came in for some personal training with complaints of recent left shoulder discomfort/pain. I ran her through an assessment and watched her move. She struggled to fire up her lower traps. I asked her if she had any scars which is when she told me about the VERY OLD scars on her belly.
I had her try to complete the movement without my hands on her body. I then put my finger in her belly button (where one of the appendectomy scars was) and she lifted her arm up with NO PROBLEM. She looked at me and yells "What the F$&k." We released the scar in the ways she needed and she completed the movement again. She was amazed when she felt how different her strength was in the shoulder after the scar work.
To me this is an every day occurrence, but to many clients still struggling its mind-blowing and makes a MASSIVE change in their pain experience and in their ability to start using the right muscles.
I had another client last week who was in a major car accident. He had been struggling with middle back (thoracic spine) pain and had been in rehab for months. He has literally been working in bed because the throbbing has been so bad. When we tested him, all of his intrinsic core muscles failed testing. The moment I put my hand on his scar, ALL of his core muscles came back on. He had been working endlessly on trying to retrain his muscles, but kept running into walls because the body still hadn't removed the detour sign and was preventing him from gaining optimal strength through his core
It's funny because the older the scar, the more clients seem to think it doesn't matter.
... IT DOES MATTER! doesn't matter how old the scar is, if you haven't retrained the body to stop recognizing it as a threat it's going to keep using the detour route and eventually lead to pain & discomfort.
If you have been endlessly working on reducing your pain and improving your strength, but your current rehab/program doesn't incorporate scar work, think about releasing your scars and following that up with an exercise to target the muscles that feel week. Ultimately the best way to know is to get assessed (I can help from anywhere around the world.)
Pain doesn't happen overnight unless we have some sort of acute injury/trauma. Pain develops over time with overused patterns that are meant to only be temporary support for protection & safety. There are so many things that go into helping the body relax & calm down the pain experience, and that includes removing ALL the threats to the nervous system.
The body has the innate ability to heal. But it can't heal in a fearful, stressed state (sympathetic state.) Remove those blocks and the body has the space to truly start working its magic. These are all things I teach in my 16-week program the Mind|Body Initiative. Scars are just one of the many things that contribute to pain relief & healing.
WATCH THIS VIDEO on scars & learn how to release them!
Apply via my "contact me" form if you want to find out if your scars are playing a role in your pain & movement problems.