Fitness technique helps 'MELT' pain away

Patricia Davis is a professional violinist who has performed on some of the most famous stages in the world, from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center. The profession, she told, is a lot more strenuous and taxing than most would believe.

“I go out to play the violin for six to eight hours in a day and sometimes as many as three performances in a day,” Davis said. Being a performer of that caliber requires her to be precise and in shape. However, the music was almost silenced when she tore her rotator cuff while swimming.

“I wasn’t able to play the violin without feeling like my shoulder was going to give out,” she said. The injury took a toll on her body and even after almost a year of therapy she was still suffering from its effects. She knew she needed to do something to keep not only her shoulder but her entire body in shape for her line of work. That is when she learned about the MELT Method.

“MELT is just a simple self-treatment technique to help people get out and stay out of chronic pain,” Sue Hitzmann, an exercise physiologist and creator of the MELT Method, told Hitzmann said that MELT stops chronic pain by addressing a commonly over-looked part of the human body – the connective tissue.

“Scientifically it’s called fascia and it’s a three-dimensional architectural matrix under the skin. It’s like flexible scaffolding and it’s supporting, protecting and stabilizing every component of our body,” said Hitzmann, who credits fascia for giving the human body muscle stability and giving it shock absorption. It also keeps your skin lifted and toned.

Connective tissue is made up mostly of collagen and water, according to Hitzmann, and is easily dehydrated by repetitive motions, like Davis’s violin playing, and keeping body parts compressed, like sitting for too long. This dehydration of the system can cause stiffness and pain throughout the body.

“You start experiencing joint stiffness and your posture begins to decline and then you start experiencing symptoms that seem completely unrelated to connective tissue,” Hitzmann said. MELT corrects these issues by stabilizing and rehydrating connective tissue.

The method is for anyone, from people who live a healthy lifestyle who experience pain while working out, to people who have chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. There are more than 1,000 instructors worldwide who offer classes and Hitzmann sells instructional DVDs along with special soft rollers and balls on her website for $149.

Hitzmann said there are “four R’s” to MELT – Reconnect, rebalance, rehydrate and release.

Reconnect: MELT teaches assessment techniques where users can learn how their body should function and what “stuck stress” feels like. The program educates them on how to identify problems in their body that could be causing pain. For example, users are taught to lie on the floor and know what their body’s relation to the floor should be.

Rebalance: These techniques “quiet the stress reflexes in the nervous system and get the regulators of stability and repair back on track,” Hitzmann said. Those who MELT can do this with various stretching techniques, some of which utilize elastic bands to create tension.

Rehydrate: With the use of soft rollers and balls, MELT teaches users how to bring the connective tissue back to a fluid state. Hitzmann compares this system to a sponge that needs to be massaged by local, gentle pressure to return it to a fluid state.

Release: Once a natural fluid flow is acquired through rehydration techniques, MELT users are taught to release and decompress the primary joints of the body; the neck, lower back, hands and feet etc.

Davis said that MELT has become part of her daily routine. For example, she would step on the MELT balls while practicing violin scales in the morning. She even takes them with her in the orchestra pit to “create a kind of stimulation” for her body. She credited MELT for giving her a pain-free life as a musician.

“I wouldn’t give this much time to the MELT method if it didn’t benefit me as a violinist,” Davis said.

“Research is really leading us to understand this is the missing link to overall wellness and health and the more hydrated and stable connective tissue is the more every other system of your body functions more efficiently,” Hitzmann said, adding, “everybody should MELT. Don’t wait till you have pain to MELT.”

Before making any lifestyle changes, consult a doctor.

For more information about the MELT Method, click here.