Why Your Abdominal Scar Could Be Stopping You From Reconnecting With Your Core. January 2019
If you have had abdominal surgery what advice were you given to help with your recovery? Lots? A little? Nothing? And if you were given advice, how useful was it?
Were you informed about what type of foods would help promote your healing; what exercises would help or hinder your recovery; or given any self-care tips to make your recovery as positive as possible. Were you given some advice as to how to look after your scar?
Based on the conversations I have had with women who have had some form of abdominal surgery, myself included, I would say that most people’s experiences didn’t blow them away. In fact, it left them feeling a little bewildered and anxious.
It’s really quite important to understand your body and its process of healing. Without this knowledge we could end up doing things or not doing enough to help the body and therefore feel worse than we did pre-surgery. Tissues can get stuck and tight, the scar site itself may not be healing well enough, or you may start finding injuries occur elsewhere in the body due to compensatory movement patterns that were brought on by discomfort at the scar site.
How long does tissue take to heal?
The whole process of healing can take at least a year. The chart below is from woundeducators.com and helps us see what the phases of wound healing are and how long each takes.
As you can see it can take a while for our tissue to recover completely and even then, the strength of that tissue may not be what it was prior to the disruption.
With respect to exercise its key to know when it is appropriate to be loading this new tissue. If it’s not quite ready there is a risk that that tissue can be damaged further, and healing slowed, or if not worked on through stretching or scar tissue therapy then the tissue can become stuck and cause a change in movement due to a lack of flexibility. A balance needs to be struck with appropriate care.
How a scar will affect the function of other body parts including the core?
A well respected manual therapist named Thomas Myers has proposed that we have 12 ‘myofascial lines’ that run through our body and connects all the body parts, muscles and tissues that run through each of these lines. With this in mind you can see how cutting through one part of the body can have an impact on the rest of the body including the core and pelvic floor. A lack of control or connection around the scar means a weakened connection and response to its surrounding areas. So, if the abdominal wall has been interrupted then it stands to reason the connection to the core muscles will be affected.
How can we fix this?
There are ways that this disconnection can be improved. If a scar and its surrounding tissues can be manipulated, it is possible to increase blood flow (helping provide oxygen to the skin), improve mobility around the site of the scar and the surrounding areas (helping you move better and not compensate in other areas) and start to make that scar feel more apart of you, as sensation is improved! If we feel more in our abdomen we can connect to those muscles better and train them to work to support our back and our limbs and let them do the job they are designed to do.
Taking on a course of scar tissue therapy and combining this with some bespoke personal training sessions that work on improving flexibility in and around the scar site and then strengthening the core and pelvic floor muscles will really improve any symptoms being experienced.
During scar tissue massage sessions various techniques are used on and around the scar. This includes hands on skills, manipulating the tissue with fingers; an instrument assisted soft tissue massage tool; a yoga tuning ball or similar; and more specific stretches that can performed on a massage table. Treatment sessions are generally sixty to ninety minutes long.
Personal training sessions focus on specific techniques that help reconnect the core with breathing, and then coordinating that with movement, minimising any unnecessary pressure in the abdomen.
Regardless of the age of the scar, results can be achieved, albeit a little slower for an older scar than a more recently attained one. Work can begin on a scar as soon as it is healed and there is no inflammation, weeping or soreness.
Certain techniques can even be taught to the client so that they can continue work outside of treatment sessions and long into the future. It must be said that, as scar tissue has a blood supply and is innervated by nerves, just like other tissues, it can grow and proliferate just like the roots of a plant. If not kept in check, symptoms experienced prior to work, can begin to reappear.
Its also important to stress that your body needs nourishment, with good ‘clean’ ‘real’ foods. Diets high in sugar and that is processed, is highly inflammatory to the body and will drastically slow down its healing. Keeping hydrated is important to, as our tissues are 75% water. Being dehydrated will cause your tissues to respond slowly and become stuck and stiff if not looked after well.
If you have an abdominal scar and are feeling disconnected to your core and pelvic floor please drop me a message and I can arrange a consultation with you to see what work can be done to reconnect you back with that area of your body.