So why do our muscles get tight, sore and achy? It’s not because you are getting older. It’s because of the accumulation of scar tissue, adhesions, repetitive use, and poor posture. Lets discuss how scar tissue makes our muscles tight sore and achy.
Scar tissue what is it?
Scar tissue is really the body healing muscles that’s been cut, torn, injured, or bruised (like in an impact). Think of it as a patching of damaged muscle. It’s the same thing as if you scraped your arm. You can actually see that scar. It’s basically the same thing that you are seeing on your skin, but it is throughout the muscle. Especially if there is a tear in the muscle. The scar tissue is not going to be as strong as the original muscle, and that creates a problem. The muscle is actually more prone to additional injury at the scar tissue. And that scar tissue is going to inhibit the fluid movement of the muscle. So as it tries to contract and elongate that scar tissue is going to inhibit that movement or create interference with that movement. This creates more tightness, and more scar tissue. And It’s accumulative. It’s basically accumulating throughout your life.
So what can cause scar tissue?
Surgery is definitely going to create scar tissue. People who have had surgery can relate to this, because they can see and actually feel that scar tissue. In Christina’s practice, she see a lot of women who have had a mastectomy and that’s a big scar. Those scars definitely affect range of motion.
Other causes are injury, over extending muscles, tears and impacts. Any of these things can cause scar tissue. Also everyday things like over use, repetitive use, or even under use. These are chronic or on going things that cause scar tissue to build up over time.
Most people are not familiar with microscopic tears that’s occurring everyday. You don’t really see them, but it is mostly over time that you feel them. A common type of microscopic tear is one, which generally catches our attention because you feel the pain very quickly. You usually feel a little twinge, you may even say, “I think I’ve pulled something”. It usually happens when you are doing something normal like standing up or walking down the stairs and you feel that… pull. That’s quite possible a tear. The muscle was tight and it tore or perhaps you have a little scar tissue and it tore a little more. Generally speaking these tears don’t cause too much trouble and we quickly forget about them. But they are accumulative and in time those tears will impact your mobility.
This is what people are feeling when they say “I’m just getting old” or “I just don’t move the way I use to”. You are getting older, but it’s the lack of fluid muscle movement you are feeling – not the age. It’s just that you have this accumulative scar tissue.
These tiny scar tissues, the microscopic scars, how do they affect our muscles?
They impact the movement of the muscle. There are so many of these little scars all throughout the muscle and they are going to impact the muscle as it tries to contact and elongate. It weakens the strength, speed, and the endurance of the muscle. The impact is the prevention of fluid movement of the muscle fibers, the muscle and the muscle group. Whether is microscopic tears or bigger tears the impact is generally the same.
So what can we do about this?
Foam rolling is a great self care tool that when done correctly can break out scar tissue from the muscle. You have to break out scar tissue to get it out of the muscle so that your body can get rid of it. You have to do the job of helping get rid of the scar tissue. Other things that will help is become aware of your habits. What habits are you doing that contributing to the microscopic scar tissue. Over use, repetitive use, under use, poor posture etc.. Movement. Get up and move your body. Your body needs movement. Movement will not get rid of scar tissue, but it will get the blood pumping, it will warm the muscles up. It’s a lot better then sitting all the time and you’ll feel better. So again for most of us it’s going to require breaking the scar tissue out of the muscle. The foam roller is a great tool for this. If you have surgical scar tissue or have had a serious tear in the muscle you may need professional help to get rid of it. There are Massage Therapist that specialize in scar tissue work. They can be of great help.
What about stretching?
Stretching is very good, but only after the muscle is warmed up. Stretching cold muscle is not a good idea, and a great way to tear the muscle. Remember, movement of the body won’t break up scar tissue so stretching won’t break up scar tissue either. It will stretch everything around the scar tissue, but not the scar tissue. Stretching is a great tool to re-teach the muscle how to elongate to its full length after foam rolling. It’s regular foam roller with specific techniques to break up the scar tissue that is the long term solution.
How has this help your understanding of why your muscles may be feeling tight sore and achy. And how scar tissue plays a role in that.
If you would like to learn more about our online Foam Rolling Program
“Purposeful Foam Rolling”
Christina and I are the creators of the online self care course “Purposeful Foam Rolling”. We teach you how to effectively and efficiently Foam Roll. So you can take control of reducing your muscle pain and tightness. This video is for educational purposes only. We are not treating, diagnosing or prescribing. We are giving you 15 Years of experience as Neuromuscular and Sports Massage Therapist. Check with your doctor first before doing this or any exercise program.