Scar Tissue and Muscle Adhesions

By Robert Vignoli

Active Release Technique (also known as ART) is an advanced massage technique specifically designed massage for muscle and muscle attachments, tendons, and the fascia surrounding the muscles, to release and relieve tension in these areas. It can relieve such “overuse” problems as carpal syndrome, shoulder pain, shin splints, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems and tennis elbow. These problems all occur because of overuse, and can be cured with his specific massage therapy technique, called Active Release Technique.

When overuse occurs, nerve entrapments, muscle adhesion, inflammation and scar tissue, carpal tunnel and impingement syndrome, among many other problems, can manifest. This is because overuse causes injury or other situations where the tissue actually changes detrimentally in three important ways.

· First of all, the tissue itself does not get enough oxygen, a condition also called “hypoxia.”

· Second of all, there can be an accumulation of small tears, also called a micro-trauma.

· And third of all, this can cause acute conditions, such as pulls, tears, and collisions.

No matter the cause, what happens is that these three types of changes cause the body to heal by producing tough, dense scar tissue in the area that has been injured, which replaces the healthy tissue. The scar tissue itself then binds up the surrounding tissues, so that they can no longer move freely. As more scar tissue builds up, muscles themselves can become shorter and weaker. Scar tissue in not as strong and stable as healthy tissue, there for an advanced massage therapist is needed to help break down muscle adhesions and scar tissue.

Without treatment this results in tension on tendons, which in turn causes tendinitis, and nerves can become “trapped.” This in turn can cause pain, loss of strength, and reduced range of motion. In some cases, when a nerve becomes trapped, you can also feel numbness, tingling or weakness.

A massage therapist who uses these ART techniques can help clients with these muscles adhesions and scar tissue build up, that restrict proper muscle function. When one receives ART treatment, a therapist first evaluates the tenderness, tightness and texture of underlying tissues, such as the fascia, muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments. Then, the therapist provides specific advanced massage therapy techniques along with ART techniques.

This type of treatment is effective because a trained therapist can break up the scar tissue causing the nerve entrapment, reduced carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, nerve impingement or muscle adhesions. The therapist directs very specific tension at the affected area usually focusing on or around muscle attachments and the patient works in tandem with the therapist by moving in specific ways to help break up the scar tissue.

There are over 500 different movements specifically in ART that is meant to break down the scar tissue, muscle tension and entrapped nerves. For example, with carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve is trapped in scar tissue (also known as “nerve entrapment), which has been caused by repetitive movement, a poor diet or a host of many other inflammation causing factors. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome also known as “cumulative injury,” because the injury itself (in this case, entrapment to the median nerve) occurs over a period of time. In many cases, ART can reduce or eliminate the need for surgery to correct these problems and restore function.

Impingement syndrome can also be helped with ART.

Another type of injury, impingement syndrome, occurs when those who do a lot of lifting have pain in the shoulder area. Most often, care for this problem involves having surgery to shave off a small part of the rotator cuff and make it flat, ensuring that there’s nothing to “catch” the muscle or muscle adhesion on. However, most often, the problem is in the muscle itself and not in the rotator cuff, so ART can cure this problem if the problem is indeed occurring in the muscle and not in the rotator cuff itself. This determination needs to be carefully identified before any massage therapy or ART treatments are implemented. Be sure to seek a professional massage therapist who is certified in ART techniques and has a very firm knowledge of the human anatomy.

Robert C. Vignoli has been a massage therapist for over 10 years and he specializes in trigger point therapy and deep tissue massage techniques and also an expert in scar tissue and muscle adhesions removal. He currently co-owns Roman Paradigm Massage, his goal is to improve the massage industry by building a “hands off” massage business model. learn more @

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March 20, 2008

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