On Wednesday, my blog illustrated how the gnarly matrix of scar tissue can inhibit normal function and range of motion throughout the body’s multi-layered system both near and far from the scar itself. How many people do you know who suffer from pain, tightness or lack of function following any type of abdominal surgery? Not that the surgery itself is to blame, but quite possibly the aftermath of untreated scar tissue and its restrictive qualities within the abdominal cavity are at fault. Think of a mother’s frustration while trying to “get her pre-baby strength back” but her body just isn’t responding after repetitive abdominal exercises. Instead, these moms may feel discouraged with their efforts, and frustrated that new issues such as chronic neck discomfort or back pain are now part of their daily lives. Remember, even if a C-section scar heals beautifully on the outside, the layers beneath may still need some work.
Abdominal surgeries such as C-sections “knead” the healing power of self- massage. Massaging your scar can resuscitate fibrous, dehydrated tissue by coaxing the fibers to break free reorganizing their arrangement and allowing for oxygenation and nutrient flow. If your scar has been neglected, you may need the additional help of a skilled massage or visceral manipulation therapist to access the deeper most adhered layers of matted down tissue within your abdominal region. You may also consider doing your own homework first, self-massage with a soft inflatable ball like the Coregeous Ball (my personal preference because of the skin’s grippy texture).
Here are just a few exercises and tips for healing scars that I am using to revitalize my own 3-year-old C-section scar. Please keep in mind that scars may hold physical and emotional sensitivity, so proceed with compassion. Also, if you have a relatively new scar, please seek your physician’s permission to self -massage before attempting these exercises.
1) Breathe life into your scar: place a soft inflatable ball, like the Coregeous ball, directly on your navel just above your C-section scar, preferably on a bare belly. rest your forehead down on crossed arms with legs extended ( if too intense, prop yourself up onto your forearms ). Inhale, so your abdominal layers create some tension against the pressure of the ball. Once you feel your body rise up a bit from the ball, slowly exhale, releasing the pressure and allow the ball to submerge further into your core. Repeat several times. Depending on the healing stage of your scar, you can repeat this simply by shifting the placement of the ball below your navel, between your pelvic bones, or directly on your C-section scar.
2) Massage your scar tissue: With the ball still placed between the pelvic bones, begin to glide and swipe your hips back and forth, in an undulating, figure eight like manner. The sticky texture of the ball will grab at several layers of your core, to encourage hydration and circulation amongst all of them. Make sure to traverse all the way across to each pelvic bone beyond the length of your scar. Alternate your strategy by maintaining some supple tension in your lower abdomen and then relaxing it all while still in motion.
3) Mobilize tissues in and around your scar: Pin the ball back against your navel while your are still prone in position and begin to walk your body around the ball – maintaining the ball at its original starting point. Aim to create a swirling or pinwheel like effect of your abdominal layers. Once you have taken up the slack of your center – begin with straight leg lifts, and then try tracing small circles with your leg in both directions. Rest your legs. Stretch the upper body by lifting into spinal extension. Breathe deeply as you proceed. Repeat this exercise by walking your way around the ball in the opposite direction.
These exercises are so tremendous in enhancing one’s proprioception, health and optimal function. If you are looking for that perfect baby shower gift– give a mother some incredible self care gifts to recharge and reform her body – consider the Yoga Tune Up® balls, Coregeous DVD and The Roll Model by Jill Miller. Happy Rolling!!!
Check out the video below for another abdominal massage technique with YTU instructor Brooke Thomas.