Studying with Mary at The Seattle Center for Structural Medicine, you will experience, and over time, learn a combination of techniques you can use as self-care. The major systems used are:
- The MELT Method Length techniques, learn more here
- MELT Neurostrength curriculum, more in depth here, and
- Principles of Mindful Movement from a variety of somatic traditions and the Exercise Science Mary uses as an NSCA trainer, find out more.
We’ll be using body weight, along with a roller, balls and bands. If you move past the therapeutic phase of your care, add TRX, kettle bells, dumbbells, and more. The experience is focused on the link between the nervous and muscle/skeleton systems, the connective tissue system. Healthy connective tissue supports the cellular body and sets the stage for dynamic, fluid and pain free movement.
The MELT Method
MELT is the brainchild of Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, whose practice is based in New York City. The MELT Method has been covered in The New York Times and on The Dr. Oz Show, ABC News Nightline, Good Morning America and The Rachel Ray Show. The New York Times bestseller The MELT Method A Breakthrough Self Treatment System is now translated into 6 languages.
THE POWER OF MELT
The intention of The MELT Method is to administer as self-care the powerful treatments brought to bear in sophisticated manual therapy practices. Using simple, yet precise, techniques of “positive compression” with a soft foam roller and balls, MELT length moves are designed to stimulate your connective tissue, including fascia, on the cellular level. We do not mash the fascial or muscle tissue. MELT is not “foam rolling”. Most foam rolling and ball rolling techniques are about muscle tissue or bones, and while MELT greatly influences all structures including muscle and bone, it is designed for a different body system, the system that supports the cellular structures of your body. MELT is not painful. Creator of The MELT Method, neuro-muscular and cranio-sacral therapist Sue Hitzmann,“why would you cause pain to get out of pain?”.
THE MAGIC OF MELT
The same forces that dehydrate the fascial matrix, tension and compression, can be used to renew it, if you know how! Regular practice of The MELT Method improves alignment, bringing more flow and ease to everyday movements, and improvement of athletic endeavors via more efficient muscle recruitment. The MELT Method can bring relief from chronic body pain as alignment, the integrity with which the body structure responds to gravity and force loads in active living, is restored.
MELT IS FOR EVERY BODY
MELT is for any body looking to reduce the “symptoms” of aging and move with more ease. While it will also improve athletic timing for performance as it renews the healthy glide and spring between the fascia and muscle tissue, MELT is especially for those who would like to get out, and stay out, of chronic pain by restoring nervous system functions that support, protect and stabilize the body.
THE SCIENCE OF CONNECTIVE TISSUE
Every structure in the body is surrounded by the connective tissues, which include fascia, tendons, ligaments and more. Muscles and bones are floating in it along with the organs and sensory nervous system. The precise techniques of MELT are designed to rejuvenate the “neurofascial web” stimulating your entire cellular structure. The web is the 3-D architectural support for all body parts and systems. This tissue when healthy acts like a sponge. It is springy and full of a viscous watery substance. With gravity, repetitive motion, repeated postures, and stress, the tissue becomes compacted, dried out and stiff. The glide needed between the connective tissue and all it surrounds declines. When fascia is dehydrated, muscle tissue does not function in its normal range of shortening and lengthening and this can lead to inappropriate muscle recruitment, which causes pulling on joints, followed by compression of the joints and inflammation due to misalignment. Pain is not far behind. The nerve tissue in the affected area becomes stuck as the sheaths that protect the nerve fibers become tethered in the tissue. When nerve tissue is compressed or held in excessive tension you may experience significant pain signaling. Even more profound, nerve signaling for the body’s stability, digestion, metabolism, and myriad other bodily functions, is slowed down when the water based system dries out. Nerve impulses travel much faster through water.
MORE SCIENCE RESOURCES
Sue Hitzmann, creator of The MELT Method is a Founding Member of the Fascial Research Society, the parent of the Fascial Congresses Fascia Research Congress | Fascia Research Society. MELT evolved during Sue's hours with clients as "homework" and is inspired by the research of, and close personal association with, Robert Schleip, Tom Myers, Jean-Claude Guimberteau, and Leon Chaitow, among many others. Here is a link to a study that was supported by Thomas Findley MD, Chair of the Fascial Research Congress: https://www.fasciacongress.org/2015/Abstracts/116_Sanjana.pdf.
MELT is an applied method deriving from science research. The best place to begin if you want to read more about current research in fascia is at the Rolf Research Foundation.
Neurostrength is the advanced curriculum developed by Sue Hitzmann, who also created the “Length” techniques of the foundational MELT program. Neurostrength techniques are designed to restore reflexes that help you remain stable and efficient in the motions of exercise and active daily living. A stable body moves with greater dynamics and power in the right joint range for the task at hand.
The Neurostrength moves re-time the stabilizing capacity of the shoulder girdle, hip girdle, and core. A stable trunk is crucial for ease of motion of the human body. The MELT Length moves, with balls and roller, are designed to restore the water producing cells in fascia, allowing your muscles and bones to better support and move your structure. In MELT Neurostrength, with resistant bands and the roller, we work to build more and better neural connections, leading to smoother motion, more power, and less strain.
DIVE INTO THE SCIENCE OF NEUROSTRENGTH
- The autonomic nervous system is in charge of orchestrating the human body’s phenomenal ability to move with grace, flow, ease, and power. Wiring new neurons to enhance efficiency is a lifelong process. You cannot think your way into creating more neuronal wiring, the stage must be set for it to happen. That is what we do in MELT Neurostrength. The precise moves are designed to fire more neurons, which in turn wire together to create better recruitment of joint support structures and tissues, and more accurate firing of muscle. We are re-ordering the recruitment scheme for body motion.
- Dynamic body motion requires that some parts remain stable while other parts move. In order to effectively re-pattern for healthier motion, the work must be performed slowly. The protocol is to challenge the fascia to hold, then the stabilizers of the joints, and then we bring in the prime movers to train a new order of firing.
- When a body moves well and without pain, it utilizes a pattern of recruitment that keeps joints stable. The brain command to move goes to the joints, where there are countless receptor sites. Think of a global positioning system. Consider an arm abduction (arm leaving your side), needed for everything from carrying any load to a tennis or golf swing: connective tissue gets the message to pre-load and stabilize the gleno-humeral joint (shoulder), the smaller stabilizing muscles that act on the joint (rotator cuff) kick in to further leverage healthy joint positioning and get ready for smooth motion of the girdle, and then the big mover muscles (mainly deltoid) engage for the motion. All in less than a split second! This yields healthy arm motion with an open, non-compressed joint able to move in the full range required for the task, and with more power. The autonomic nervous system is in charge of this timing.
- In a body where cellular dehydration and joint compression are present, arm abduction may still be executed; however, this will require a compensatory strategy as the body parts needed for the move are not in stable condition. They may be misaligned causing inefficient muscle recruitment, the bones in the joint may be rubbing on each other, the connective tissue could be dehydrated, unable to hold the joint position in preparation for movement, and the muscles needed for healthy motion may be unavailable, locked long or short due to habitual motion in faulty alignment or neurological inhibition. For example, the brain will use a mover muscle nearby if the deltoid is not fully available for the arm raise away from your trunk, maybe something in the neck that is far less efficient in executing the move. The dehydrated tissue has no spring to preload and the signal trying to reach the stabilizing muscles has been overridden so many times, it goes right to whatever is available. And this pattern may be repeated over and over again. Over time this can significantly diminish range of motion and power; and, inflammation and pain may become present.
Exercise Science and Mindful Movement
For over 30 years, as she was developing as a dancer and into her years performing professionally, touring, teaching, completing hours of continuing education as a certified trainer, Mary has been exposed to many somatic traditions. She has studied the mindfulness practices of Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, Hanna Somatics, and Qi Gong, as well as countless dance forms. All of these traditions inform the work you will study. In addition, Mary’s NSCA certification is rooted in Exercise Science and requires ongoing continuing education in anatomy, strength training principles, trends in aerobic fitness, etc.