A woman I worked with, about a year after she had her second child, hadn’t had her period since and was having horrible low back pain. I worked with her lower abdomen and found scar tissue and worked it out. Her low back pain subsided that day, and one week later, she called me and reported that she had her period. It is amazing work!
Old impact injuries, surgeries and even repetitive strain injuries often leave behind scar tissue. This restricts surrounding blood vessel, nerve, and muscle function often resulting in a lot of pain. It can be real tricky to identify when it is scar tissue that is causing problems.
Very often my clients will come in complaining of low back pain, and upon inquiry and exploration of the tissues, I feel scar tissue and learn that he or she had some sort of injury or surgery (sometimes 20+ years ago.) Hernia repair surgeries and C-sections are the most common source of the scar tissue, but it can be from many other things.
A client of mine came to me because he was having poor circulation in his legs and his balance was decreasing. This was a huge problem because he loves to stand-up paddle board. Upon exploration, I discovered lots of scar tissue, and he told me he had double inguinal hernia repairs 25 years ago. After only 6 sessions, his balance and circulation returned to better than it had been in 10 years. He later told me that he had been having prostate issues, and that had gone away as well.
Massage addresses the scar tissue and adhesions (knots formed in soft tissue), by breaking it up and bringing proper blood flow to the area. Imagine your tissues are stuck together like velcro. Things can’t move or flow in it. Through massage techniques, that stuck tissue is broken up so the tissues can contract and relax with ease again, and so that oxygen and nutrients can return to the area.
Another client I started working with four years ago was sent to me by his physical trainer because he was having a hard time doing much of any exercise. It all just hurt! As it turns out,10 years ago he a major abdominal surgery to replace his pancreas and kidneys then another one to fix a complication with his colon. What I felt in his abdomen was layers upon layers of scar tissue. It took us about a year of working directly on the scar tissue, but he was able to return to exercise, golf (his favorite exercise) and travel with no pain. He reported feeling lighter, more mobile and having better digestion.
If you are having pain, numbness or tingling I recommend getting medical massage to see if you have scar tissue.
When I was a child I noticed how many adults would tell me things I should do and ways I should be, yet their behaviors often contradicted what they said. Many of the same people who preached "godliness" were abusive - mentally, emotionally and physically. I felt outraged about it!
At age 19, I looked around at all the pain and suffering I felt and saw in the world and wondered, what can be done? What can little me do? I am just a drop of water in the lake of humanity. How can I make a difference. I felt discouraged and depressed. Then an idea came to mind. What if I heal myself? What if I take care of my mind, emotions, body and spirit, and what if that rippled out to those around me; my family, my community and eventually the world?
I clung to that idea with grim determination and desperately hoped it would make a difference. For years I dedicated time and money to get all kinds therapy - for mental, emotional and physicals pains. I poured myself into exploring the deep, dark and scary corners of my inner world. Some people called me courageous. I felt it more as desperation because for me, it was do this or die because I refused to allow the abuse of my family lineage continue on through me.
What I found was that the more I prioritized my well-being, the better I treated myself and therefore everyone around me. Different family members became inspired by the changes they saw in me and, of their own accord, started making changes for themselves. My massage clients saw me and were inspired to make changes as well. For some it took years to make those supportive changes, but they did it!
I advocate for people to take excellent care of themselves; to prioritized their health and well-being, but if I don't do it myself, I am a damn liar! In the healthcare field I see so many practitioners burn out because they are so focused on taking care of other people no matter the cost, but they don't take care of themselves; they don't do the very things they are telling their clients and patients to do.
Ghandi says "Be the change you wish to see in the world", and I can't agree more. It is up to us. It is up to you to create a healthy world (if that is the world you want to live in) by taking care of yourself first! For this reason, I believe a culture of self-care can change the world.
Adinah Barlow has been a massage therapist since 2007 and Self-Care Coach since early 2017. She believes that when people prioritize their own well-being, everything else and everyone else in their life becomes exponentially better.