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Can Deep Tissue Massage Help Scars?

by
author image James Mulcahy
James Mulcahy is a New York City-based licensed massage therapist with more than 1,500 hours of training in anatomy, myology and pathology. He currently works as a freelance writer and has contributed to Huffington Post, New York Press, British Airway’s High Life, Metromix and many other publications.
Can Deep Tissue Massage Help Scars?
Friction massage employs the fingers to break up scar tissue. Photo Credit massage image by Adam Borkowski from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Deep-tissue massage is usually performed by a specially trained massage therapist. Although it can be used to promote relaxation and improve athletic performance, it can also help promote proper function in scarred areas. The Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals notes that deep-tissue work can help during injury rehabilitation and muscle pain. It can also help break up scar tissue associated with those injuries.

Muscles and Scar Tissue

Deep-tissue massage is meant to remove scar tissue that appears as a result of muscle strains and tears. According to The Stretching Handbook, these tears are repaired with scar tissue. The scar tissue is not as flexible and resilient as normal muscle tissue, which can lead to future injuries at the same site.

Massage and Scar Healing

When applied properly, deep-tissue massage helps break up scar tissue in the muscle and promotes proper healing of the tissue. The Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies say massage of an injured area with scar tissue can help increase the flexibility and range of motion in the area, which can help prevent re-injury. Deep tissue massage to scar tissue can also help relieve pain and nerve impingement that's caused by the scar tissue.

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Timing

Apply massage to an injured area during the scar’s immature phase to garner best results. According to The Institute of Integrative Healthcare Studies, this phase lasts up to three months from the original injury. During this period, the wound undergoes the healing process and scar tissue accumulates in the area. Massage brings blood to the area and helps the scar tissue form in an organized fashion. It breaks up any adhesions between the scar tissue and surrounding muscles.

Techniques

The Stretching Handbook says massage to the injured area should start superficially. Once the tissue is warmed up, you’ll be able to do deep tissue work to help heal the area. The primary deep-tissue technique is friction massage. The therapist uses the tips of her fingers to dig into the target area. When she reaches the injury, she strums her fingers back and forth as though plucking the string of a guitar. Because friction can sometimes be uncomfortable, communicate with the therapist if you feel pain or discomfort.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’re concerned about injuries and scar tissue and are considering massage as a treatment, talk to your doctor. If massage is applied in the early stages of injury, it can actually make things worse. Your doctor can ensure that your injury is past the acute stage and that deep-tissue massage therapy is appropriate.

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