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How Scar Tissue is Formed


While there are varying terms for it, the concept is the same whether talking about adhesion, scar tissue, or fibrosis. The dense, fibrous tissue is an underlying factor to many injuries and it affects us all. It ties down and binds up tissues that need to be able to move freely. As the scar tissue builds our muscles become shorter, and weaker. Tension on the tendons can lead to tendinosis, causing trapped nerves. All of these issues can result in a loss of strength, tingling, weakness, numbness, pain, and a reduced range of motion.

Scar tissue can form in two different ways- if a tendon, ligament, or muscle is crushed or torn the body creates that scar tissue to act as a glue to mend those torn pieces. It’s part of the healing process. The second, and most common way, is through hypoxia. Which is when the body’s soft tissue isn’t receiving enough oxygen. It might sound unlikely, but it’s incredibly common with athletic pursuits, poor posture, repeated use, and even sustained pressure (from sitting) can result in an increase in muscle tension- which results in hypoxia.

The blood supply to an area is reduced as muscle tension increases. A lack of oxygen leads to the accumulation of free radicals in muscles- and these attract the cells that produce scar tissue. These cells start the scar tissue process and then as time passes it begins to affect the muscles, ligaments, nerves, tendons and fascia. There are several common side effects

Muscle Shortening

Scar tissue doesn’t lengthen like healthy muscle, it isn’t as flexible or elastic. This means scar tissue area have an altered joint rotation axis, and a limited range of motion.

Delayed Lengthening

It is possible for a muscle with scar tissue to reach full length, but it may take a longer time to do so, as muscles must work in conjunction with each other and with precise contraction times. Think about kicking a soccer ball- it requires your hamstrings to lengthen and your quadriceps to shorter. You can have an injury when one fails to act at the correct time- such as if your quadriceps behave as they should, but scar tissue means your hamstring lengthens too slow.

Decrease in Strength

While the scar tissue acts as the glue to bind muscles, those muscles are then less functional. The decrease in working fibers means there is less strength- additionally a mispositioned joint or pain can limit strength.


Scar tissue can be painful, there are pain nerve endings within it. You can also suffer with pain when the involved muscle or tendon shifts to compensate for the presence of scar tissue.

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