Over the course of our lives many of us will encounter injuries, cuts and bruises. This is a natural expectation as we go through life. However, for others we may be left with marks that stay with us forever. These marks may come in the form of a scar.

These scars can impact us in 2 ways:

  • Aesthetics
  • Movement

As a physiotherapist I want to address how scars can impact the way we move.

Scars can come from multiple sources such as

  • Surgery/Incisions
  • Burns
  • Insect bites
  • Stretch marks
  • Diseases

The development of scars is a natural response by the body to repair tissue in the presence of injury.

While it is a normal response of the body, it is important that it is addressed and taken care of correctly.

In the presence of a scar, it can provide both local and potentially widespread effects on the body.

If the scar is noticeably tight (especially around joints), it can act as a physical restriction in the ability to move that body part. Not only can scars provide a physical restriction, but it can also impact our bodies at a neurological level. Scars can affect our ability to sense and move and it can affect our ability to control our muscles resulting in weak or overactive muscles.

This concept of scars and its impact on the body can provide a possible explanation as to why pain or reductions in motion and strength remain present even after a joint replacement or stays present considerably longer than expected after an injury.

So what can we do to minimize the impact of a scar?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, here are 6 tips to minimize a scar:

  1. Always keep the area around and over the injury clean
  2. Use petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist – this will prevent scab formation which takes longer to heal
  3. After cleaning the area and moisturizing it, protect the area with a bandage
  4. Change the bandage daily to keep the wound clean
  5. If the injury requires stitches, follow your doctor’s advice on how to treat the wound and when to remove it
  6. Apply sunscreen to the wound after it has healed

After the scar has healed and the wound is no longer exposed, it is recommended to begin stretching and massaging the scar in all directions to ensure that it is pliable and able to move freely in all directions.

3 tips when massaging the scar:

  1. As you begin to stretch it, start gently to ensure that the wound is not reopened or irritated.
  2. Perform for shorts bout (15-30 seconds) to ensure that it is well tolerated, 2-3x/day
  3. Perform the stretching after applying a lotion for 10-15 minutes to moisturize and soften the skin

At Movement Performance Centre, we utilize therapies such as P-DTR, NKT and soft tissue massage to aid with removing the neurological impact on the body. If you have any questions or are unsure if this would benefit you, contact us and we will help guide you in the right direction.

Author: Zachary Hum


American Academy of Dermatology Association. Proper wound care: How to minimize a scar