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.
Enjoyed this article? Read Abdominal Massage: What Do You Store In Your Core?
Get YTU Therapy Balls to help soothe scars.
Great techniques that not only get you to connect with the scarring on a fascial and muscular level but also the emotional empowerment of taking back connection with your body especially after surgery.
Thanks for sharing the exercises. The Coregeous Ball is such a wonderful tool. This is something I want to share with my students.
I’ve had 3 c/s, the last in 2011. I have tightness and pain in my lower back and in my hip flexors quite often, despite being very physically active and stretching a lot. Have you heard of other women who suffer this way post-section? I didn’t have any of these issues prior to surgery. I don’t sit while I work, btw, so it’s not a desk-related thing.
Hi, I’ve had 3 c sections and since 2013 have been suffering terribly with psoas muscle. Could it be because of scar tissue. My first was in 2000 and last one in 2004.
It’s progressively getting worse and can be very debilitating.
Can you recommend exercises.
I’ve had bone graft surgery from my hip to my humerus, and funny how the doctors don’t do any post surgery care and let you know that the scar tissue could have an impact on your range of motion if not worked on. This is good to know for future clients that also may not have a clue of the after care that will help them.
I’m so enjoying reading your articles, Amy! Thank you!
I will be sharing this info with a friend recovering from abdominal surgery.
Thank you for this post. I did not have a c-scetion, but teach mom’s who have. I also enjoyed the previous post If These Scars Could Talk. I look forward to trying this method out on my appendectomy scar.
I teach a pre and post natal yoga class and will teach this technique to the c-section moms.it was good to read all the confirmations that it works.
I am so excited to have found this article! I did not have a c section, but a complete hysterectomy some 40 years ago. I can’t wait to try this on my six inch vertical scar. I’ve done self massage over the years, but I can feel how tangled the deeper tissues are and I believe using the coregeous ball will help with that. Thank you for an excellent post!
How soon after surgery can one start? I am 9 weeks post op for major abdominal surgery. I am still not allowed to lift weights, mop or vacuum. Is it too early yet? Thanks
Fantastic advice. I think this is incredibly important for clients with scars; however, this could also be relevant to clients who express shame towards their stomachs. The Coregeous ball allows for clients to get in tune with the parts of their bodies that they have neglected or feel shame towards. Reconnecting the yogi with their tissues will reinforce the neuromuscular pathway over time, improving their ability to contract the core.
I had surgery last year. My body changes a lot, but you’re right, maybe in the outside our scars seems to be heal, but what about the inside, do everything stay in the same place? I don’t think so… After a while I start to massage my abdomen with the coregeous, it was great. Thanks for the excercises are so great.
Awesome article! I’m definitely sharing this with my clients! We must raise awareness of The importance of healthy fascias.. People often think a c-section is a normal procedure, not being aware of the change in their fascia afterwards and what to do about it.
I had hernia surgery and didn’t know enough about scar tissue at the time to realize there was work I needed to be doing. As a result, 10 years later I ended up with lots of abdominal scar tissue and finally ended up with enough pain and pulling to seek help. Wish I had know about this work sooner. Great article!
Je n’ai pas eu de césarienne, mais une appendicectomie en bas âge. Toujours eu des problèmes hanche et aine droite…….À mon premier rendez-vous en ostéo il y a plusieurs années, j’étais presque insultée de me faire dire par le thérapeute que ma cicatrice, qui datait de plus de 25 ans, me causait des problèmes. Dans ma tête d’infirmière, c’était impossible !!!
Les temps changent, on apprend différentes choses, différentes manières de voir le corps. Je masse mon ventre régulièrement avec le Coregeous et en retire tellement de bien ! Ce texte reflète très bien ce que je prône présentement !!
Vraiment très très intéressant à lire !
I heard you and this blog post mentioned on a recent coaching call and I knew I needed to read it. So glad I did! I’ve had 3 c-sections and an appendectomy and have realized that I need to roll out some scar tissue. Also excited to share this info and technique with others! Thank you!
I am a Licensed Massage Therapist and work with a lot of pregnant women and often work on their pregnancy scars and sometimes c-section scars, usually with some initial hesitation from the clients. I appreciate having some options to give these client’s to add into their self care routine.
Thank you again, Amy. Excellent techniques for regenerating this are and releasing.
i have had two c-sections and i’m very happy to stumble onto this post. they never bothered me but i am very interested in this healing process as i do have a few keloids that i’d like to work on as well. thanks of sharing – amazing what massage can do!
This will give hope to new moms out there! I am not a mother myself but I can only imagine feeling the frustration of not finding ways that really works to treat a condition after delivery, including scar tissues. Thank you Amy! and actually I just browsed over Emilie Goldstein Mikulla s comment on your blog here : another ray of light! thanks for giving mothers hope that YTU can work!
I’ve heard so many doctors throughout my life tell me and others that scar tissue never goes away and the inhibitions to mobility a large scar may provide will ALWAYS be there. Yet, over the the last couple of years, I have personally seen a few people remodel their scars and get them to fade using self-massage and YTU balls.
Thanks for this article!
Thanks for the tips. I’ll be sure to try them when I get a courageous ball and perhaps use this with clients when I become a yoga therapist specifying in treating women during the perinatal period. There are so many folks getting c sections- healing them well is important work.
I had fibroid surgery 3 yrs ago and have massaged the area every now and then (sometimes happening upon areas that are painful). Having the surgery has allowed me more movement in my yoga practice (so many of the buggers had me feeling very restricted). Now I am feeling restricted because I clearly have scar tissue to break up. Thanks for the ball tips (I will now have to purchase a Coregeous ball).
I am intrigued by the Corageous ball. I am anxious to try the exercises and take the Coregeous training!
If you’ve struggled to get ‘your core back’ after abdominal surgery or post natal there could be a chance you incurred diastasis. This is when the rectus abdominal muscle pulls away and detaches from the linea alba. This is treatable even years after it has occurred…it just takes a little longer 🙂
Though not related to a scar from a C-section, I have found these steps to be useful with my client.
I had a great experience recently with a client who has been in a motorcycle accident some 30 years ago, and had scars all the way from his ankle to his glute from surgery. He had been fine until recently he injured himself doing jumping lunges. He is experiencing pain near the attachment of sartorius at the knee. We have found most of the muscles that have scars are inactive and being compensated for by many other muscles. We have been rolling the scar tissue, as well as strengthening muscles that are inhibited, and it is seeming the muscles where there is scar tissue are beginning to grow and become stronger.
I had a C-section 31 years ago!!!! I’ve recently started to have some low back pain. Is it too late to start to break up that old scar tissue? What about scar tissue on surgery from disc surgery?
I had a back injury years ago and every time I tried to stretch I could also feel some restriction in the abdominal area. I did a class yesterday taught by Casey at Kripalu and this was the very first time I felt the restriction coming from the belly and apparently my internal organs. It was a scary yet exciting sensation to find this. Although I did not have a c-section, I believe those old myofascial restrictions were never treated and were contributing to the back tightness. Needless to say it was amazing!! And as a physical therapist, it was safe, effective and much kneaded!.
This blog is worth archiving and giving to students that have experienced the pain and restrictions caused by abdominal scar tissue. Many people don’t realize the full body implications that these adhesions present and the liberation and connection that can come from the techniques you’ve shared above.
How old a scar tissue could be for the Coregeous ball to be effective? I’ve worked on my C-section (3 years old) and my appendix scar (10 years old) and has worked a lot. However, I am interested in knowing if it could work with older surgeries/scar tissue.
Thanks, Amy. I have been messing around with the coregous ball but this is the extra info I needed to make better use of it and dealing with my scar tissue. Going to try it out now!
This blog is just what I have needed to restart the Coreageous abdominal ball rolling.
It is amazing to hear how people are soothing and improving tissues that have been damaged by surgery–sometimes scars they have had for years. It is delicious to know that they are improving an injury caused by a hard metal blade with a soft, squishy ball.
Surgical scar tissue in the abdomen can inhibit ROM and normal tissue function , but the flip side is that areas of surgical incision also weaken the abdomen and can lead to herniations of abdominal viscera. Breaking down scar tissue is most important, in addition to rebuilding strength in the musculature of the abdomen.
Thank you for bringing attention to the issue of how powerful scars can be when it comes to affecting how we move. You are so right that even though a scar can heal so well when seen from the outside, it can be a much different picture on the inside. The YTU balls can be such a great tool for moving toward healing when we have scars.
My best friend is pregnant right now. She is my kick-some-butt, workout buddy. She now is uncomfortable doing many of the workouts we once did, but she is also worried about post-pregnancy effects because she is unable to do sit-ups or much core related movement right now. These are great moves that I hope I can help introduce to her once we get the go-ahead from her doctor. Could you recommend any of the specific moves in Roll Model that you’ve used? Thanks again!
Thank you the tips! Right in time – getting ready for my friends Baby Shower.
I’m excited to share this article with many friends and clients. I was always curious about what could be done to heal scar tissue.
I had a hysterectomy 8 weeks ago. I am doing acupuncture and supplements for healing and to help prevent adhesions. I have ordered the YTU Treat while you train kit but won’t get it for a little while. I tried to do the figure 8 massage on my belly today with my daughters Tinkerbelle kick ball that is slightly deflated. Holy Gawd that hurt. I’m assuming discomfort is to be expected? Can anyone confirm this or describe what it felt like on your scar areas? I teach Pilates and can finally go back to working out next week. I know everything is tight in there and can’t wait to be stretched out. Happy rolling.
Great blog! I have been rolling with the coregeous ball for over a month now and feel so much better. It has help me to connect with my abdomen and awaken some tissues that were plain numb from the C-section done 8 years ago. It is never too late do connect with your tummy. I have not tried the spinning variation but will add that next morning. I personally find the couregeous ball helpful with exploring belly breathing and relaxing after a long mommy day. Thank you!
Thank you for such wonderful insight. I didn’t realize the effect that scars can leave on the body and that you are able to take care of it.
Terrific articles Amy! I am a YTU® instructor in CT and am actually the person in The Roll Model that did a liver transplant So I totally am on board with this and your explanation and directives are super. So many people have no idea as to the depth of what a scar on the outside can do on the inside. thank you of these two articles !!! 🙂 Helen
Your point about scar tissue is spot on and can be applied to anywhere in the body. I had 2 surgeries on my spine and have been using the massage ball around the incision site to soften the area. This has given me tremendous relief. Post-surgery I couldn’t even come into a child’s stretch without wincing, I thought my back would explode. But 8 years down the line, with a lot of massage therapy and my YTU therapy balls, the area is elastic again. Now I need to take the balls down the chain to my IT band! Great post, thanks!