Thursday, April 25, 2019

Scar tissue part two

I trooped into the physical therapy office. All around me people moved slowly with canes, and I felt a little out of place as I bounded along on the elliptical trainer, "warming up." I would be remiss not to speak of adventure's darker side, which are the little, non-surgery-warranting issues that can crop up. Mine are the result of a trail running fall years ago, which somehow convinced my glutes to "not activate." Why things don't activate is a result of stronger muscles taking over when they shouldn't, and also, scar tissue.

My PT approached me with the dreaded Graston tools. These instruments of torture, which I have written about before, break up scar tissue. She ran one tool along the side of my hip, and I could feel it, a crunchy sound. Scar tissue can help a person initially but, ultimately, it's bad. Graston tools, foam rollers, little cork balls--any of these things can break up scar tissue. Then the affected part can move more freely.

"Your IT band is the victim here," she said. I had always thought the opposite--that the problem originated there. Dumb IT band! I had spent hours torturing myself with foam rollers and stretching, when instead it was my hip. Armed with a resistance band and some stretches, I bounded back out of the PT office.

To take this into a tenuous metaphor, I think all people of a certain age are walking points of scar tissue, although they may not know it. The scar tissue that is emotional can't be scraped away with a Graston tool. How does it hold us back?

Anyway, at least the physical part we can fix. I now am walking around with activated glutes, some KT tape along my IT band, and a happier outlook. Bring on the adventures.


  1. This post reminds me of one I wrote last summer about physical and emotional scars that build up over the years, and how they affect our adventures.

    I think you're right that we all have an accumulation of scars. I broke an ankle after falling down the stairs with a television in 1999, never had it set, and now I live with ankle instability that gets worse every year. I think it would be even worse if I didn't build the supporting muscles with running and hiking. And I do worry about potential arthritis and chronic pain as I grow older. Oh, to go back in time and tell my stupid 19-year-old self to go to the hospital (or, you know, not fall down the stairs.)

    I often quote lyrics from the song "Home" by Field Report:
    "And the body remembers what the mind forgets.
    Archives every heartbreak and cigarette.
    And these reset bones, they might not hold.
    Yeah, but they might yet."

    I agree with you. Tape it back together, and bring on the adventures. :)

    1. perhaps I subconsciously channeled your post. At any rate, I love those lyrics. Especially the body remembers what the mind forgets. I too wish I could take back some things. Like running marathons on pavement. What was I thinking?

  2. As I get older, I am paying more and more attention to aches and pains after a workout and realizing all various little dings and scratches my body has racked up over the years!

    1. Just wait until you're my age, ha ha! I used to just shake stuff off, but now I pay more attention to it too.

  3. As they say, "No gain without pain"!
    Aha, the things that make us happy as we age - activated glutes, KT taped IT bands!

  4. Before Justin's first stomach surgery, my cousin, who is studying to be a physical therapist, gave me perhaps the best advice ever. He said to make sure to massage the scar tissue as part of the healing process. We waited about 2 months before doing it, but we've followed the advice as part of surgery #2 and 3. Since I feel like I've have heard so many people during the past few years talk of the dangers of scar tissue, I am happy we did that. Not saying it will solve all the problems, but at the very least, it couldn't have hurt!


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