Scar tissue, Adhesions & Knots
All of these words are different, but they all mean the same thing: damaged muscle tissue. We just know it by different words, which in my opinion, makes things very confusing. For the sake of this article, I will use the word ‘adhesion’ as it’s what I use every day when I speak to my clients.
So what are adhesions?
Adhesions are tissue that builds up and ties down tissue that need to move freely, affecting surrounding muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. As the adhesions build up, muscles become short and weak and this may lead to injuries somewhere down the line, especially if you do any form of strength training or participate in any other athletic performance. The sole reason for this is simply because you’re more active and use your muscles more than the ‘common person’.
Adhesions have two ways of building up
- Muscle, tendons and ligaments get torn and the body creates adhesions that ‘glue’ the tissue together (necessary part of healing process)
- Hypoxia: the tissues in the body are not receiving enough oxygen. This can be due to tight muscles in the body that decreases blood flow, which is what carries oxygen around in the body. Hypoxia leads to free radical accumulation in the muscles, which attract cells that produce adhesions.
The latter is the most common reason if you don’t have any history of injuries.
Now you have the basic information of how the adhesions build up, but how do you know if you have any? Below is a list of common symptoms:
– Flexibility: do you have decreased flexibility in any muscles? Do your muscles feel short and stiff? Muscle tissue is not as flexible or elastic as normal healthy tissue and will therefor limit your range of motion in muscles and joints
– Muscle testing: are some of your muscles late to respond? Muscles always work in pairs (agonist and antagonist), when one contracts (shortens) the other relax (lengthens). They need to do this at the exact same time. An easy example of this is the squat. If you have adhesions in your hamstrings they won’t lengthen as fast as your quadriceps shortens, this may result in a tear.
– Decreased strength: the adhesions act as glue and bind your muscles and fibres together. Less muscle fibres means that you have less strength to produce. The adhesions may also limit joint range, which will compromise depth in your squat and limited range in your log press (which is the most common problem amongst the people I see every day)
– Pain: pain can be felt in the involved tendon attachment and/or in a structure compensating for functional changes because of the adhesions
– Nerve entrapment: nerves are supposed to slide around or inside a muscle. Because the adhesions might tighten your muscles up, the nerves get trapped and pulled at every time you move, resulting in a not so pleasant pain. The adhesions might also glue your nerves to the muscles. Common symptoms of this is weakness, numbness, tingling, burning, aching and pins & needles
If you suffer from these symptoms and would like an assessment & treatment, please get in contact. We offer specific membership and services which support rehabilitation.