Scar Release Therapy - My Experience
On a muggy August morning I found myself in Penn Station, NYC, ready to board a train for Wantagh, Long Island. A month earlier I'd stumbled upon an article online by Marjorie Brook that described the benefits of scar release therapy. Apparently, scar tissue is made up of layers of stuck tissue that no longer glide, slip and slide around each other. And since the spinal fusion surgery I'd had done 30 years ago for scoliosis had left quite a scar, I wondered if Marjorie could help me. I wanted to ask: How much fascial restriction did she see and feel in my body? Could it be contributing to my increasing asymmetry? My trunk's leftward lean? Below is edited video of our session.
From MarjorieBrook.com: While not every scar presents a problem, many do. If your body doesn’t breakdown scar tissue completely, it will often spread — triggering your body to compensate. Any kink, pull or restriction in one area can affect everything else. If your movements are restricted, your muscles will be forced to work harder. If your nerves are trapped, your circulation can be restricted — and so on. The reason for this is because you’re essentially held together by one huge single sheet of connective tissue, or fascia. This fascia wraps around your entire body like an intricate spider web and influences the way you function — from your muscles and your bones, to your organs, nerves, veins and arteries.
Fascial restriction sounded like me! 30 years ago, the Harrington rod that was fused to my spine straightened me out, but the lack of movement in my entire torso over such a long period makes me sometimes feel like one big stuck structure with seriously limited mobility. How I would love to do a backbend like I could when I was 13.
My two hours with Marjorie were really, really good. She told me that her mission is to let people know that scar tissue affects how you grow, and how you compensate. Any trauma can change body mechanics. In fact, the current problem I have with my malocclusion could very well be a ripple effect from a trunk that leans to the left, a neck that tilts to the right, and an occlusal (how your teeth come together and touch) plane that became less than horizontal.
I am so glad to have video recorded our session. This way I can refer to Marjorie's experience again and again (she says there is lots of hope for those of us with rods!). I also recorded it for people who visit this blog, who had Harrington rods placed years ago and would like to learn more about the scar release and other therapies that Marjorie talks about.
One of these is called Original Strength. I do a few of these exercises now - the crawling and rolling - and I actually really enjoy them. Marjorie says to get the full benefit I'll need to see these Original Strength trainers one-on-one, which I will do next month. They will give me a personal protocol, and that will be my rehab after the scar release work which comes first.
Here is what Marjorie said. This is in the video above.
- See an Original Strength trainer, follow their protocol every day, and I'll be amazed at the difference I'll feel in my body. It will help my trunk's leftward lean as well as my cervical curve.
- The harrington rod holds me straight, but the scar tissue and my body's compensations are what cause my torso's tilt, and my leg length discrepancy.
- She releases the scar adhesions, and then my rehab is the crawling and rolling etc.
- I still have some curvature on my upper spine.
- Every person's scar looks and heals differently. For my long scar, she worked in sections.
- When I told her I had been very hands-off in that area, she said there shouldn't be any part of your body that gives you the heebie-jeebies. Touching and accepting your scar and surgical site is a priority.
- She wasn't putting any direct pressure on the spine, but she was on the rod (her touch felt fine).
- I have layers of stuck tissue. These layers are supposed to glide over one another, and mine weren't doing that. It was her job to separate the stuck layers long enough for the fluid/jelly to get back in between the layers to reestablish proper movement.
- Scarred or scar-less, we all need to stretch every single day as a body maintenance in order to not feel stiff.
- With the type of stretching that Marjorie teaches flexibility is the goal, and strengthening is a byproduct. Which is unlike yoga, where strengthening is the goal and flexibility is the byproduct.
- Rolling, as taught in Original Strength, will be very important for me. It will make a tremendous difference. 2-5 minutes each day.
- This therapy causes more movement in the scar area. The therapist works down, at every angle, waiting for the person's body to tell her where it wants to go. The longitudinal and other fibers in the scar need to be released on all planes.
- Because of compensations, I'm hiking my left leg up. The femur is a bit jammed up in the joint, causing a shorter left leg. I should video myself doing yoga, as should everyone, to see how I may be shifting weight onto the shorter side. She mentioned iCoach as a good app for dancers, weight lifters, yogis etc to watch for compensation. Are you tilting your hips? Are your feet in line?
- We need to reset our bodies, which is where the crawling and rolling come in.
- A wound and scar are not the only causes of adhesions. Inflammation and overuse count too.
- Arthritis is from lack of use, stagnation, loss of circulation. Need to keep it moving. So why do some people get it and not others? I asked. Because people respond differently to inflammation.
- My malocclusion could be because I'm off-kilter, and it's transferred into my jaw. So I need to work my jaw.
- Massage isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Stretching too.
- My scar had shifted away from the adhesions underneath. Scar tissue and restrictions can spread. Your fascia is all one piece. If there's a kink in one place, it will affect how the rest of the fascia is pulled during movement. Compensations result.
- Everyone's face is asymmetrical. Mine is for sure. My ears aren't level. My nose goes to the right. One eye has drifted north to compensate for my leftward leaning trunk, which causes my neck to lean to the right. The face can readjust when proper posture is restored. Unless the bones are permanently fused in their position, which Marjorie said is possible (and my neuromuscular dentist said they have - (but you know how I like second opinions!), the facial bones could shift back. My eye sockets will definitely shift back, because they're based on the zygomatic arch.
After almost two hours on the table, my back felt loosened and relaxed. I wish I could have this done every day! So what's my take on all of this newfound information? It's wonderful to know that we can do something about our assymetry, pain, stiffness, fascial restriction and yes, even spinal curvature. I will give you an update on my Original Strength training in the near future. And I need to start on Marjorie’s recommended stretches. I have downloaded the Jaw and Neck pdf ebook.
Just to recap, Marjorie's advice: have the scar released (if you have one), then do Original Strength for daily rehab, and make Active Isolated Stretching & Strengthening a part of each day. It takes a commitment to specific movement for our bodies to feel good.
Are you asymmetrical? Do you have a scar that you’d like released? I’d love to hear about it!