“I had a bunch of scar tissue that needed broken down”. How many times have we've heard this? Whether you're a trainer, a therapist or even just someone with an injury this line is used every single day.
Is it true that we can break down scar tissue?
I think before we answer this question, it would be worth taking a shot a defining what scar tissue is.
There is an abundant tissue in our bodies called collagen. There is “good quality” and “bad quality” collagen. Bad quality collagen, termed as such, because we have less of it. This is also considered to be less “functional”. Think of a scar that you get when you cut yourself for example. This lesser common collagen can result from an injury or disease process. It can be present both internally and externally.
Can it be broken down?
The reality is, probably not. More recent research has discussed that to break this tissue apart would require a force of 2000 lbs. per square inch!!!!
When a scar initially forms, the body does a pretty great job at trying to minimize the amount of scar tissue formation. Within a few months following an injury the tissue that is there, is more than likely the tissue that will remain. During this process, new tissue is also infiltrated with more nerves than usual, giving a person more of an opportunity to feel pain.
So what happens in areas of scar tissue? Should it be treated?
Research is beginning to look at the gliding of tissues in the body. Certain areas are demonstrating “stickiness” and as a result unable to glide. Think of two pieces of paper that have be glued together. It appears that restoring this glide is showing promise in reducing symptoms and improving function.
The most important take home point from this research, is that tissues are responding to significantly lighter pressure than we once thought.
So get un-sticking yourself. Improve your glide and remember, less is more, in treatment and self care!