ScarWork is a manual treatment for scars and adhesions. Sharon Wheeler is the originator of these gentle techniques which promote improvement in scars and the underlying tissue, regardless of the age of the trauma.
I was fortunate enough to learn this gentle healing work several years ago and have helped many people with scars ranging from surgical scars, cesareans, friction and heat burns, dog bites, cuts, laparoscopies, etc.
Sharon was taught by Dr. Ida Rolf, the founder of Structural Integration, as an “Artistic Experiment” by vision and touch without reference to anatomy. Working by feel and the ability to recognize small incremental change applied to scars led to the discovery of Scarwork.
In 2005, she published an article, "On Scar Tissue" in the Journal for Structural Integration. After the first Fascial Research Congress she started on a multi- year quest for ultrasound documentation and presented an abstract with these ultrasound images at the Fascia Research Congress of 2015 in Washington DC.
Working with scar tissue is like speaking a different language in the world of fascia. It should come as no surprise that the guiding concepts and the working principles and goals are often similar to those of Dr. Rolf's Structural Integration.
Scar tissue quality changes quickly and easily. Lumps, gaps, ridges, holes, bumps, knots, and strings in the tissue become smoother. The amount of change in one intervention is rapid and extensive.
ScarWork is rarely painful - even for very new scars.
Small changes in the scar tissue accumulate. Work on a scar can contribute significantly to whole body release and integration. Historic memories and emotions are often recalled. Improvements appear to be permanent.
Work on new scars seems to speed the healing for a little while right after the work and even with older scars it seems to promote a period of rapid healing and further improvement right after the work.
Why have ScarWork?
ScarWork treatment is used to improve the health and feel of scars from surgery or accidents. Most people try ScarWork because scar tissue is the cause of discomfort. This may be pain, reduced mobility or a feeling of tightness. The scar may be numb, itchy or feeling sensitive and irritated. Stimulation to the tissues is likely to promote the blood and lymphatic supply, essential for cell regeneration. After treatment, clients often comment their scars feel softer, mobility has improved and they feel less pain. Improvement after treatment seems to be lasting and even single sessions can be helpful.
How will it feel to the client?
The client should find a ScarWork treatment comfortable to receive. Communication to indicate if there is any discomfort will allow the therapist to respond, adjusting the pressure, technique or moving away from the sensitive area while things calm down. Generally a series of treatments is most effective, and each treatment should bring incremental improvements.
What is the evidence?
Research is ongoing into the changes that occur physiologically after ScarWork treatment, ultrasound images have shown improvement to the fascial tissue after treatment, and further investigation is needed to consolidate the evidence and establish most effective treatment duration and spacing. Scar massage – which may be considered similar to ScarWork – is commonly recommend to patients with burn and surgery scars as a standard aftercare protocol.
A publication discussing the impact and treatment of scars edited by Jan Trewartha and Sharon Wheeler “Scars, Adhesions and the Biotensegral Body: Science Assessment and Treatment” is now available. It includes contributions from specialists in the fields of fascial anatomy, biotensegrity, movement, surgery and other manual therapies.