Scar tissue can form in the muscles from many different things, but injections are probably the #1 cause of it in most bodybuilders who use AAS.. Anyone who has rotated their injection sites around to different muscles has most likely been doing this because of the scar tissue or swelling from previous injections. Everytime you inject into the muscle, you’re doing damage to the muscle resulting in scar tissue or adhesions. If you have been using injectable steroids for any length of time you will be familiar with rotating your injections sites from the glutes, shoulders, thighs, lats, etc. The main reason I did this in the beginning was my injection schedule was ‘every 3 days’ and wanted to give the last injection site some time to settle down before I hit it again allowing any swelling to subside.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but all of those injections are creating a LOT of scar tissue in the muscles, and this scar tissue can have some very detrimental effects on the muscle and how it operates. I was researching some of the effects of what happens from repeated injections in the same muscle and I came upon some information that made me better understand the trama those injections cause. I found this description from Dr. Jon DeGorter online, and I like the way he breaks it down. He said “When a muscle is damaged the body does not actually repair the injury with new muscle, but with scar tissue. Adhesions, or internal scar tissue, are inflexible fibers that bind damaged soft tissue together. Scar tissue/adhesions that form around an injury are not as strong as the tissue it replaces. It has a tendency to contract and deform the surrounding tissues, compromising strength and flexibility.” When I hear that description and think of the hundreds or thousands of injections I have administered over the years I can’t help but form this mental image of a large blanket, peppered with hundreds of abstract puncture marks in it that have been stitched closed. You can imagine after a while it would get harder and harder to find some virgin material to properly stitch close the most recent puncture mark. You’d be forced to overlap some of the blanket here, and pull some material from over there to close the holes. After a while you would not recognize the blanket anymore with all of the repair stitching. The blanket won’t lay flat, and won’t work how it was intended.
After repeated injections into the same muscle it’s going to really start causing some issues with how the muscle performs. All of those adhesions and scar tissue in the muscle will begin to accumulate making the fibers shorter, weaker, restricting blood and oxygen from properly moving through the muscle. It seems that your nerves would be affected negatively as well from this impingement, decreasing the signals being sent to and from the muscles. I have seen top tier bodybuilders show up on stage with one arm or thigh looking significantly smaller than the other one, and I suspect this is caused from some kind of nerve impairment that scar tissue most likely plays a role in. When we are lifting weights we’re constantly causing trauma to the muscle which results in scar tissue/adhesions to marble the muscle. A quick google search and you can see some images of what this scar tissue actually looks like in a real muscle. The first time I saw what it looked like it surprised me! I was not expecting it to look like a spiderweb of sinew spun throughout the muscle? The adhesion/scar tissue is made up of a dense fibrous tissue. At the time of injury the scar tissue is very much needed, it’s made out of dense fibrous tissue and allows the muscle to be held together so to speak, after trauma or injury. You can think of it as scaffolding that helps to support the muscle as its healing, but this can become a deterrent once the muscle is healed causing decreased range of motion, pressure on nerves, and decreased blood flow.
So what can we do about it? … There are several therapies used for breaking up this scar tissue and allowing blood flow and full range of motion to resume. A.R.T. (active release technique), Rolfing, Trigger point therapy, and Myofascial release are all forms of breaking up the scar tissue to rid the muscle, tendon and/or ligament of the adhesion. If you have a good therapist who specialises in one of these modalities it can drastically improve your condition when they are able to release some of these areas. The techniques are very painful as you can imagine, but the relief you receive is worth the pain in my opinion as you are allowing that muscle to finally ‘breath’. As you can imagine it will get expensive paying for multi hr long sessions with a specialist. I have devised a few ways to administer these same Myofascial release techniques on my own. Foam rolling and the like are great ways to open up the muscle, and I recommend using this technique to soften the muscle in preparation for going deeper. In order to break up the scar tissue you can experiment with a few different (torture lol) devices. A lacrosse ball, tennis ball, rubber dog ball, baseball, or any other ball that’s close in size to the ones mentioned works very good. Depending on the muscle your targeting, will determine what way is best to use the ball. If you’re like me, you have probably taken a lot of injections in the glutes, so I will describe what I do for my glutes here. Lay on your back with your knees up in the air, and your feet close to your rear end. Cross your right leg over your left leg so your right ankle is resting atop your left knee. Place the ball under your right glue and turn your whole body to the right a little to apply pressure on the ball. At this point you will want to move around on the ball to explore the muscle, you will find areas that have acute pain and/or are very tight. Once you find this spot where you can really feel the pain get acute, you’re there, you want to stay on this point with pressure. I like to sit on this spot for at least a minute or 2 or as long as I can bear the pain! I find that applying pressure in these painful spots for a few minutes the pain will begin to subside, the tension releases and it won’t be nearly as sensitive. At this point I will move slightly to the one side or the other, keeping the ball in the same spot, but focusing pressure around the perimeter of where I have been applying pressure (like an inch or 2 to the side). Sometimes you will find another spot here that has increased pain, if so I will repeat these steps with the pressure until I feel the pain dull.
I like to go through the whole right glute muscle with the ball finding all these trigger points that are painful or very tight. Once I have had all the pain I can take on that side I will remove the ball, lay flat on my back and pull my right leg over the left side of my body trying to get my right knee over to the left side of my body where the knee can touch the ground or as close to it as I can get. This helps to stretch the glute wide open after the release.
You can use your imagination with this ball technique to hit every muscle in your body. It’s very painful, but you can feel the results from it immediately when you’re done. I find this technique with the floor and the ball to be great for the shoulders, and all over the back as well. If you do a search on amazon for ‘myofascial release’ it will bring up pages of products that can be used in the same manner I have described. A quick search will produce Knobby balls, boomerang looking tools, and a host of other odd shaped, but very useful tools for getting deep into the muscle to break up that scar tissue for less then $30.
I like to do this type of therapy on myself right before I go to bed in the evening. It’s amazing how much better the body feels after you’ve worked on some of those bound up scar tissue spots. I think its smart to pay extra attention to the muscles you regularly inject into, as they are going to have more scar tissue built up in them. Don’t be afraid to work other areas of the body too, as scar tissue will hinder any muscles ability to perform optimally.
If any of you have techniques or tricks for working out scar tissue or tight muscles I’m eager to hear more about it. I’d be interested to see what your opinion on this topic is so feel free to leave some feedback.
G and all of team GearDepot