I’ve played sports for most of my life, and I’ve had several injuries as a result. I had knee surgery a few years ago and rotator cuff surgery more recently. I’m worried the scar tissue from these injuries is decreasing my range of motion and killing my performance. I figured there was nothing I could do about it, but one of the trainers at my gym said massage could actually help get rid of that scar tissue. Can massage help heal my injuries and get me back in the game?
Internal scar tissue, also called adhesions, can restrict your muscles, leading to tightness and a decreased range of motion – as you already know. The good news is massage may help you. Massage increases the temperature and oxygenation in your muscle tissue, which can help break down and realign that scar tissue. And according to an article published in Massage Today, you may even achieve satisfactory results in as few as 1 to 3 sessions.
Sports massage may be the most appropriate type of massage to help break down scar tissue. The relatively fast pace and deep pressure of a sports massage increases the temperature of the tissue, helping it to loosen up and break apart more easily. Breaking down that scar tissue will relieve restriction as well as reduce pain. It’s important to note that this type of massage is not the gentle, relaxing Swedish massage you might be more familiar with. If you’ve never had a sports massage or deep-tissue massage before, be sure to let your massage therapist know.
Deep-tissue massage is another type of massage that can break down scar tissue. Since your injuries are a bit older, deep tissue may provide you with more relief. With this type of massage, your therapist will use deep pressure to break up adhesions and the collagen fibers caused by scar tissue.
When you talk to your massage therapist, let them know about your injuries and how the areas have felt since. The more information your massage therapist has about your injuries and the location of possible scar tissue, the better they can work with you to get rid of that scar tissue and put you on the path to full recovery.
Although few studies have been done and the scientific evidence of its effectiveness is weak, many surgeons recommend post-operative scar tissue massage. It sounds like your injuries are a little older, but massage therapy is still worth checking out. It’s simple, economical, and there are few if any side effects. It’s also convenient, since you can have a massage therapist come to you whenever you have room in your schedule.
 Richard Lebert RMT: “The Role of Massage in Scar Management,” http://www.rmtedu.com/blog/the-role-of-massage-in-scar-management
 Massage Today: “The Importance of Scar Tissue Release Therapy,” http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=14020
 Physio.co.uk: “Breakdown of Scar Tissue,” http://www.physio.co.uk/treatments/massage/benefits-of-massage/breakdown-of-scar-tissue.php
 Dermatologic Surgery: “The Role of Massage in Scar Management: A Literature Review,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22093081
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