I recently read a good book on self-treatment of chronic pain, inflammation, and immobility calledThe MELT Method by manual therapist Sue Hitzmann. In the book, Hitzmann explains her method of using implements like foam rollers to make pain vanish and improve athleticism.
I’ve been using the program at home for weeks now, and it has helped me mobilize my joints and relieve chronic pain. Plus, it feels amazing. As an example, I always feel pain when I put pressure on the pad of my thumb. Not only did it feel great to work on it, but once I was done with the hand portion of the program, my wrist mobility had improved. Not just over the course of weeks, but in minutes.
About the MELT Method
The program revolves around a series of movements you perform with an implement like a ball or a foam roller. The exercises are designed to stimulate the nervous system, break up internal scar tissue ,and relax the muscles. The movements feel divine, but like most mechanical therapies, there will be times when you will need to test your limits and work through knots.
After doing the moves you’ll be spent, so save them for after a workout or, even better, a different time altogether. Even when I used the MELT Method on just my forearms or other small muscles, I could feel my metabolism fire up in response to the activity.
About the Book
The book begins with a description of how your connective tissue works and where chronic pain comes from. This sets the foundation for the next section, in which you begin to learn the theory on how to work with the connective tissue yourself in order to alleviate pain and improve mobility. These two sections of the book put together go a long way into explain the details of both why and how to perform the moves that form the core of the program.
The extremities come next. The calves, neck, hands, and feet are all worked to battle the effects of daily stress. If you do nothing else in the MELT method, these first few pieces alone will work wonders.
Hitzmann then details how to use the MELT method for the rest of the body. Interspersed in the details of doing the moves are various bits of advice, like how to get started, the importance of assessing and tracking progress, and so on. This section ends with how to release the muscles of the neck and low back to relax the body.
The Movement Sequences
The movement sequences, which range in length from ten to twenty minutes, bring all the information together. The programs themselves are pretty rudimentary, as they should be. They are simple and easy to follow, and after going through each section a few times it became much faster.
Each program can also be done quickly, which is an advantage, but the full body programs took me a while. I can spend a full ten to twenty minutes just on my hands. The length of time you spend on the sessions will come down to personal preference.
The difference between The MELT Method and most other methods you’ll find isn’t in the general premise, but rather in the detail and thoroughness of execution. Everything is explained in depth, and the moves are more varied than you’ll usually find. For example, you will perform normal foam rolling motions, but you’ll also learn specific point pressure. You’ll even learn how to “glide,” “shear,” and “rinse,” which are names of techniques included. It’s a holistic program too, so it includes tips for improving your breathing and awareness.
The parts I didn’t like about the book were minor. The name sounds more like a bad diet than a manual therapy program to me. The content, however, has little to do with nutrition, and is much more valuable than the name might suggest.
Next, the story of the creation had me rolling my eyes. The introduction of the book chronicles Hitzmann’s search to find answers about her weird superpower of sensing connective tissue vibrations. It goes from her youth in which she was told to hide her gift, up until her epiphany that she can use it to develop the program described in the book. It all sounded a bit hokey to me, but the bottom line is that she has a lot of experience and spent a lot of time learning and developing to create this program.
Who This Book Is For
This book would be great for those interested in using a foam roller and other rolling methods for self-myofascial release. The importance of mechanical therapies for athletes is paramount, and performing it yourself is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way, while still being very effective.
People who suffer from pain, immobility, or both will also benefit from this book. Many of the methods are suitable for both the athletic and also the untrained individual. Anyone of any level can benefit from the sequences and information contained in this book.
The book isn’t perfect, but the parts that matter are well thought out and explained. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic of self-treatment for pain and stiffness, and those who want to improve mobility and athleticism.
The Melt Method is available for $17.58 at Amazon.com.