What is Scar Tissue?
Scar tissue forms as a response to trauma to the body’s tissues. This can happen through surgery, illness or trauma/injury. Our bodies do a fantastic job of healing as quickly as possible to restore integrity and function to the area, but this happens in a disordered way.
Scar tissue does not function in the same way as normal tissue; it is less flexible, has poorer circulation and lymphatic drainage, and often the sensation to the area is affected due to damage to nerve endings. This has a direct impact on movement in the surrounding area, but also in areas of the body distant to the scar tissue. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, the body is a highly interconnected structure. There is a continuous “web” of fascia which links our entire body; including bones, muscles and organs. It functions as support for these structures, but also acts as a communication pathway via our nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems, which run through this web. This continuous network is interrupted by the tight, inflexible scar tissue, and the movement of structures becomes inhibited. Imagine wearing a belt 3 sizes too small; your movement would be restricted. A scar works in the same way! For example, an abdominal scar may cause restrictions in shoulder movement, or a scar on the leg could cause hip and back problems.
Secondly, we look at the meridians, or energy channels, described in Traditional Chinese Medicine. These can be blocked by scar tissue. For example, a Caesarean section scar crosses 5-6 meridians, including the stomach, spleen, liver and kidneys. This reduction in flow of energy can lead to dysfunction in these areas, as well as the symptoms such as movement restriction and altered sensation directly around the scar.
Research has shown that by addressing scar tissue, manual therapy can be more successful and provide longer lasting results.
What is Scar Tissue Release?
McLoughlin Scar Tissue Release® (MSTR® ) is a gentle technique that is applied to areas of scar tissue or fibrous tissue to help reorganise the tangled web of collagen fibres. This can result in many changes, both locally and distant to the areas treated. People who have received this form of bodywork have reported improved appearance of their scar (blends in better with the surrounding skin, less bumpy, less raised or indented, thinner or smaller scar), improved sensation to the scar and surrounding areas, reduced pain, improved movement, and even improved thoughts and feelings related to both the scar and events surrounding it.
The technique can provide almost instant change, even after only a few minutes of direct work. These changes are long-lasting, and once the scar tissue has altered, it will not return to its previous state. Most scars will require several sessions of treatment, to ensure the maximal change has been achieved, or that if certain areas have not responded initially, they have been given adequate treatment to encourage any potential change.
MSTR® can be used as a standalone technique, or can be incorporated into a session alongside other bodywork modalities (e.g. Bowen Therapy).
If you would like more information on the technique, and the science behind it, this recent podcast interviews the creator of MSTR®. He talks in detail about why he started looking more closely at scars, and the research currently going on which is proving just how effective the technique is.
Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/18wSlYHEnEelZGnrtvpNL9
or through the Stop Chasing Pain website: https://www.stopchasingpain.com/scp-podcast-169-mcloughlin-scar-tissue-release/
At Central Wellness, our McLoughlin Scar Tissue Release Practitioner, Victoria Crowe, became the first approved practitioner in Hong Kong in 2019, and has found it an invaluable asset to her toolkit. She often uses it alongside Bowen Therapy, and finds her background as a Physiotherapist gives her an in depth understanding of the body. Working holistically to find and address the root cause of a client’s pain and functional restrictions, Victoria has found Bowen Therapy and MSTR to be an incredibly powerful and effective combination.Physiotherapy Scar tissue