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MELT Away Your Pain

suehitzman6

The Melt Method

Sue Hitzmann has a special gift- she can sense what’s happening in the human body and her hands-on techniques worked miracles for her clients. The challenge was finding a way to take the results home and be able to get pain relief without seeing her in the studio. Sue got to work and looked at a variety of ways to release the body’s connective tissue. After some tinkering, she came up with a protocol which is now called The MELT Method.

Her discovery allows us to use gentle pressure to release the kinks in our connective tissue which is where much of our energy is being wasted. Old pain syndromes, injuries, and traumas started to clear up for her clients and now she’s had tens of thousands of people experience this magic with her DVDs.

The key is to move away from the “treat pain with pain” mentality. Soft, gentle, and intelligent touch goes a long way and its been a missing ingredient in our culture.

Sue came from the fitness world and started to realize that most of her contemporaries were always injured…as was she. There was a dirty little secret that got her looking for solutions, and, thankfully, she found one.

Sue runs in some circles that I’m very familiar with and we share a friend in Gail Wetzler who is considered very high in the pedigree of visceral manipulation and light touch. That means she’s done her homework and works with the best in class. She’s good and she’s created a “take home” model for the important work that we can all benefit from.

Enjoy the interview.

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Interview Notes From The Show:

Dr. Pedram:

Hey, welcome back. Dr. Pedram here today with someone who’s going to help me a lot in my life. Sue Hitzmann has a method called the MELT Method. For me, it’s actually probably the most exciting show content I’ve done in a while, because those of you who know me know I’ve got lots of martial arts injuries. I’ve been skiing. I’ve been bopping and banging myself around for many years, and there’s always something that hurts. If you have pain and you’re trying to deal with it on your day to day, what can you do?

Now, Sue has been working with over 200,000 people. She’s in Manhattan, but she’s developed this method that actually works and keeps working, because people make stuff up all the time, and it goes away, so when you have real stuff, it sticks. Her stuff works. Hey, welcome to the show.

Sue:

Thank you very much.

Dr. Pedram:

How did you get into this? Did you trial and error your way into, “Hey, what works? How am I dealing with all these recalcitrant cases?”

Sue:

Yeah. I was working on a lot of clients. I have a private practice here in the Upper West Side, and it actually all started out as homework for my clients. A client said to me, “If you can invent a way for me to do to myself what you do with your magic hands, maybe I’d stay out of your office for good.” It was one of those things where I thought, “I don’t even know if it’s possible to do that light touch therapeutic intervention to yourself,” because nobody had ever done it to me. I had never heard about that done before, and I just was like, “It does sound intriguing.”

In the late 90s, I started tinkering with balls and rocks and rollers and PVC piping wrapped in bubble wrap, and I was just using different objects on myself and seeing if I could create the same effect in my body, not having somebody else do it to me. One day, I decompressed my own neck. I knew I did it. I did it over a period of months, and what was intriguing was that I had a group of women that I had been doing fitness training with who cornered me one day and said, “Out with it.” I was like, “What?” They said, “Did you get botox?” I said, “Botox? What do you mean botox?” They said, “You look younger. Why are you looking younger?” I said, “You know, I’ve been doing this thing to my neck. I do, I think it’s kind of lifting my face.” They’re like, “Why are you holding out on us?”

Dr. Pedram:

Totally.

Sue:

It was one of those things where they wanted it for that, and the women who had the chronic TMJ and the migraines. I started sharing it with my clients, and it was just a snowball effect where my clients were getting better faster. Over the course of about 3 years, I really know I had something because clients were coming back, sustaining the changes longer than I was working with them hands-on with. They were able to prolong their time out of my office. It was like, gosh, by the time 2004 came along, I thought, “I really think I could teach people how to do this in a group environment, and maybe I could keep people out of my office entirely,” and that’s what started it.

In 2004, I started teaching this in group environments. 2006, I started training people, and today, I’ve got an international best-selling book. I’ve got 1,300 instructors worldwide. I thought I was going to make myself rich and less busy, and I’m actually more busy and working even harder and longer hours, but the blessing is that it is an utter and total gift because I have literally witnessed so many, thousands upon thousands, of people get themselves out of pain. If that’s what my calling and my life is supposed to be, I think I’m on the right path for what my life is supposed to be about.

Dr. Pedram:

That’s it. Scale is huge. You can only work on so many people with your hands on a given day.

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Sue:

Yes.

Dr. Pedram:

Now, you’re helping thousands and thousands of people a day, so it really helps. Hey, I’m going to press pause real quick. There’s a little scratchiness happening in the audio on your side. Can you make sure your jack is in right? I’m just hearing something banging. I don’t see any kind of … It’s not hitting your necklace or anything, but I’m just getting-

Sue:

No.

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah, I’m getting a scratchy thing.

Sue:

Do you want me to try to go onto open mic?

Dr. Pedram:

Let’s try it because I’m getting a lot of it. Okay. Go ahead and say something.

Sue:

Can you hear me? Hello? Hello?

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah. Yeah, I hear you.

Sue:

Is that- ?

Dr. Pedram:

It’s better. Let me just make sure I don’t echo. No, we’re good.

Sue:

Okay.

Dr. Pedram:

We’re good. Yeah, that’s better. Cool. Okay, we’re back. Now you don’t have to have the funny ear buds in, which Apple just got rid of anyways.

Sue:

Exactly.

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah, totally. Okay, so I’m going to pick up where we left off. Hey, live viewers, this is what happens when we go back and edit. I actually had this myself in clinic. I could only help a certain amount of people every single day, and then, all of a sudden, I started doing media. Yeah, I work long, hard hours, but I’m helping hundreds of thousands of people versus 30 a day. You’re doing the right work.

Now, let’s back up a little bit. There’s a piece to this that I think we need to just set the stage for. Light touch, what were you doing with your magic hands in that setting?

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Sue:

In the late 90s, my first introduction to hands-on therapy was actually neuromuscular therapy. I studied under Leon Chaitow, so I was working on muscle testing, and I was learning more heavy compression and being a little more bossy with my hands. I guess it was like maybe 1996 I got introduced to craniosacral therapy. In working with this woman one time, I had had foot pain, and she, I’m not kidding, she worked on my nose. The next morning, I woke up and my foot didn’t hurt me. I was like-

Dr. Pedram:

Come on.

Sue:

“What muscles were you working on?” She said, “I wasn’t working on a muscle. I was working on your cranial rhythm.” My whole blessing has been, as a kid, I’ve always had this ability to feel vibration on bodies. I just have a very good sense of touch, and when she started talking about the cranial rhythm, I said, “You mean like the fill and release phase of the cerebrospinal fluid?” She said, “Yeah,” and I was like, “Are you doing something with it?” She said to me, “Can you feel that?” I said, “Oh, yeah. There’s all sorts of things, like organs move and things like that.” She said, “Sue, you know not everybody can do that. Maybe you should take a course to learn how to hone in the skill,” and that was it.

I had a great knack at doing light tough therapy, so I got involved in craniosacral therapy, visceral manipulation, lymphatic drainage, and that was where the turning point also, my hands-on practice, happened where my clients, when I was doing neuromuscular therapy techniques and working on muscles, they would make changes, but they would always come back sort of in the same place that they were the last week I saw them. When I started doing the craniosacral therapy and rebalance rhythms, and then I figured out I could feel the fascial flow, I thought, “Gee, I wonder if I could redistribute that fascial flow before I did NMT work,” and that was where the techniques lasted longer, of neuromuscular therapy. I made bigger changes on my clients, and they were able to hold them longer.

That was where I started to shift my focus into, “There’s really something to a more gentle approach to the tissue.” I think that you don’t need to inflict pain to get out of pain. I think that maybe there’s more to the body, that if we listen and we go in with a lighter touch, that the body could actually adapt faster. With that in my mind, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 16 years, so I’ve drank the Kool-Aide and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I mean, there is a time and a place for heavy compression, and sometimes I still do that to a client, but I usually start with the light touch, and then I go to the heavier compression technique. It just always work better.

Dr. Pedram:

What’s interesting is I have a good friend out here in Southern California, Dr. Ben Rubin, who’s a prominent orthopedist. He swears by this particular woman, who then became a friend of mine, and said, “I don’t know what she does. She does all this magic. I don’t even understand it, but just go see Gale,” so then I go meet Gale Wexler, who is … yeah.

Sue:

Gale was one of my teachers also.

Dr. Pedram:

Great. Yeah, I know your pedigree already. Gale’s one of the top people in this space. We have friends in common. She and I had been friends, and we’d interacted professionally and all that. My son came out, and we had to suction my son out because he got stuck. I was like, “That can’t be good.” I texted Gale, and she’s like, “Look, I’ll stay after hours. Just get your ass in here.” My wife and I go down there, and my wife’s a dentist, so this is not in her gestalt at all. I’d never really seen it seen it, like that viscerally. Gale puts her hands and does this light touch on my son, and then literally has him suckle on my wife’s breast because it was all about the bones that were [inaudible 00:09:28]. I watched the bones in my son’s head and face just kind of fall into place, and it was not like any sort of weird hippy-dippy energy anything. It was like, “Whoa!” His face physically changed. Right?

Sue:

Yes.

Dr. Pedram:

Knock on wood, the kid’s a genius, and whatever, whatever, but it was like, “Thanks, Gale.”

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Sue:

I think that’s it. I think that there is a mindset, and I think this might just be part of the culture, is that we really have to work so hard, and we have to beat ourselves up, and we have to just go to the point of total exhaustion to make a change. I think, for a lot of people, they reach their plateaus, and then they feel like they have to work even harder and harder and harder until they just burn out. I was probably one of those in that rat race 20 years ago, just running, running, doing, doing, going, going. I looked exhausted. That’s why people said to me, “You look younger.” I think I’m just not so tired anymore, because I think I take that more gentle philosophy and approach to myself, and it is pretty amazing.

I work on infants just as often as I do older adults, and I have to say it is one of the more incredible things, is to watch a baby who’s in distress just unwind before your eyes. If you could do that to an adult, it would be an amazing thing. I always say, “Time over tension over load.” The younger you are and the quicker you catch things, the easier it is to unravel from it, but the more years you have, my friend [Gil Headley 00:11:00] always says, “It’s like peeling the layers of an onion.” There’s so many thin layers of dysfunction that you have to get through to get to the core and the root cause of the issue, that most of us are sitting there just peeling skin layers, and we never get deep. The depth of it doesn’t need pressure. It needs focus. It needs specificity. That, I think, is what those types of light touch therapies do, and that’s what Gale does with her hands also. It’s pretty cool.

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah. That’s really the paradigm shift, in that it’s like, “Hey, my neck hurts, so I’m going to go pay some Korean lady to stand on it and kick me in the occiput. Because this is where it hurts, I need a Hail Mary, and I need something really, really aggressive to match the pain that I’m in.” It’s very Yong. It’s a very Yong approach. We come from a very “let’s fix it” allopathic mentality, which is surgery or antibiotics or whatever, and that’s not how stuff gets stored in the tissue. This light touch, this paradigm shift, I love just the name of your entire brand called MELT, because there’s something implicit in the word melt that has to do with letting go. How does one melt into this other way?

Sue:

Right. What my whole concept is about is I have been a founding member of the Fascia Research Society, and my curiosity was in connective tissue. It’s one of those elements of our body that most people don’t know anything about. If they do know something about it, like people in fitness, are very obsessed with the word myofascia. Everybody’s a myofascial expert, and I say, “You know, when you talk about myofascia, you’re still talking about the muscles,” but when you talk about the connective tissue as a system, connective tissue is a 3-dimensional global matrix. It’s made up of collagen and water, hyaluronic acids, elastin fibers. Daily living causes this fluid system to become cellularly dehydrated, and we’ve all experienced cell dehydration. I’ll give you an example.

When you sit for long periods of time, you get up and your joints just feel so stiff and achy, but then you move around and it goes away. That stiff, achy feeling is what I call a pre-pain symptom. That’s what the body is signalling and telling you, “Hey. The connective tissue’s getting stiff. It’s getting dehydrated,” but when you get up and you move around, your own movements plump back up the tissue and rehydrate it, so we never do anything about it, but if you think of connective tissue like a river, daily living is literally causing sedimentation in the river. Over time, that causes low-grade inflammation, you lose space in your joints, and then your nervous system just becomes exhausted just trying to keep you upright. That slows digestion, metabolic behavior slows down. Now you just feel exhausted all day, but at night, you try to fall asleep but you can’t. Then you get up in the middle of the night. You’re going to the bathroom like 2 or 3 times.

That is part of the cycle that, I think, accelerates the aging process, and also is a precursor to pain. What the MELT Method is is a simple self-treatment technique to help educate people on how to rehydrate the connective tissue with this light touch compression. All my products are … Here’s one of them, our MELT roller, super soft. Most rollers that you see are hard as a rock. Just like how you said, people have neck pain, and they want to beat up their neck. I said, “You know, if you think of pain as being your body’s alert system, it’s like your body is crying out for help, and it’s a victim.” If your kid was crying out for help, you wouldn’t walk up to them and punch them in the face. You would go find the problems, and we’ll find the perpetrators. Well, when you have neck pain, the neck is the victim. Usually the areas of connective tissue and cellular dehydration are other areas of your body.

With MELT, what we teach people to do is to assess what I call stuck stress, how to identify where stuck stress is actually living in your body, treat that so that you’re not focusing on the pain signal, but you’re actually helping support the nervous system so that the connective tissue can do its job properly, quiets that stress reflex. It tends to get the nervous system and the brain to stop signalling the body that something is wrong, because you’re doing the proper things for it. I always say, “With MELT, we take an indirect, before direct approach.” If your neck was hurting you, the last thing we would do is work anywhere around your neck. We would work on your hands. We would work on your upper back, maybe your legs, and then we would reassess the pain and see if it felt better. If it did, right there it starts to educate people like, “So my neck is not the problem. It’s just the area that’s stressed out the most,” but the areas of problem are actually somewhere else.

Once they start getting that aha, I think that they perceive their bodies different, and they start taking care of their bodies differently. I think that’s really the amazing thing for me, is that people start to change their lifestyles and how they feel. People’s faces look different afterwards, and they just look happier. They look less angry and pent up. I think that that’s part of our problem today, is just that we’re so over stressed, emotionally, mentally, physically, chemically, socially. We’re just over stressed. MELT, I think, quiets people down, and it gets people to become more body aware about what’s going on inside their body and stop paying attention to all the chatter and just get quiet with yourself and see if your body will respond.

Dr. Pedram:

You know, some of the studies that I’ve looked at back in the day, a couple of years ago, was some people were saying it’s up to about 70% of our brain energy is being used on the postural system, all of these neurons just firing, just being like, “Oh, oh, we’ve got to compensate because your big, dumb head is too far forward,” all these things that happen when we’re out of alignment. The fact that your friends thought you had botox because your face was working right says a lot about posture in general, and how when things are biomechanically lined up, there’s less effort, and if there’s less effort, there’s less exertion. If there’s less exertion, there’s more energy, and if there’s more energy, there’s less coffee. Just keep going, right?

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Sue:

That’s right.

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah.

Sue:

What I call the neurofascial system, the nervous system and the connective tissue are, again … We all have heard of those things, but we don’t really know anything about them, and I’m obsessed with it. The nervous system, in and of itself, is doing so much for us, but more often than not, our nervous system is functioning so inefficiently because the environment that the sensory nerve endings are living in … I mean, connective tissue is the support infrastructure for your muscles, your bones, your nerves, your organs, blood vessels. Everything in your body relies on the supportive infrastructure of connective tissue to function efficiently, and your sensory nervous system, those sensory nerve endings, actually live in the connective tissue, not the muscle.

There are 10 times more sensory nerve endings living in fascia than there are in muscle, so if the connective tissue … Think about it like soil in a potted plant. If the soil’s dried out, the plant’s leaves look droopy. Think of the plant as being like your nerve to your brain. You feed the fuel in the soil, and you pump up the soil, and then the nervous system can function efficiently. That is, I think, the separation where when I had that aha, again, I was working on neuromuscular therapy. I was working on the nervous system trying to get better motor pathways to open, but if you’ve got a bunch of road blocks in your body because of this sedimentation of connective tissue, your nervous system doesn’t not work, it just takes detours to get around the road block, but that is what starts to accelerate compensation, inefficiencies, exhaustion.

Quite frankly, I think that if you stay in that state for too long, that’s, again, your precursor to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, MS, Parkinson’s, and all of these neurological disorders that we have now that so many more hundreds of thousands of people are being diagnosed with those sort of disorders, and I think we’re doing it to ourselves. I think we’re altering our own DNA because we’re not caring for this vital system where cell transportation and cell proliferation is functioned in our body. It’s where it’s established, is in the fascia.

We need to, I think, as a culture, learn more about how the body acquires stability to redefine what a stable body is and to not think that our muscles are the most important part of our body. I would say muscles are dumb. They need the brain to tell them what to do, but fascia is highly intelligent. It’s actually pre-stressing our bodies so that we function efficiently. Again, it’s an environment that we live in. We just need to know more about it.

Dr. Pedram:

The challenge is most people in our culture are parked up at some desk looking at some 2-dimensional screen, moving around a mouse that isn’t actually alive, and crimping their neck like so, all of it. Then they’re like, “Oh, wow. Yeah, that sounds good.” That actually sounds better, to me, than a week in Maui, is just getting a little decompression of the back of the neck, because flying to paradise takes all of the energy out of you, with all the travel. Most of us just need to learn how to unwind right where we’re sitting. I’m in an office chair. I’m listening to this going, “Okay. How much of my time, Sue? How much of my time is this going to take?”

Sue:

That’s the good news about connective tissue, is because it’s a fluid system, if you know how to treat it properly, when you first start, you’re going to be doing this for anywhere between 10 minutes and 40 minutes a day, but then once you go through 2 weeks and you really start to reestablish a better environment, you can do MELT 10 minutes a day, 3 times a week, and you’re good to go. My body, I like what I feel like after I MELT, and in the morning, I brush my teeth and I MELT my feet at the same time so that I reestablish my ground force control. I want my footing to be good for me, and if all I have is a minute or 2, I MELT my feet.

Each technique and each sequence … Like in the MELT Method book, I broke things down into these sequences, and each sequence takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, depending upon which sequence you’re doing. It just depends upon how much time you have to commit, but I have clients who are in severe pain who come to see me, and I get them on a regimen where they do 10 to 20 minutes of MELTing a day for the first 2 weeks, and they already come back better. Now they’ve got tools that they can use day to day. Again, the cool thing about MELT is you can do it in the morning to prepare your body. You can do it at night to de-stress. You can do it before a workout so that you have better coordination. You can do it after a workout to reduce the negative effects. It depends upon what your lifestyle is.

Again, fascia is very responsive, and if you think of connective tissue like, again, a fluid system and we’re in a closed-cell environment, think about it like putting your hand in a tub, if you start to learn how to move the fluid in one direction, once you take your hand out of the tub, the fluid’s still going in that direction. That’s the principle of fascia, is if you can instigate the fluid flow of the tissue and then you walk away from it, the nervous system and the human system just has an ability to pick up adaptability and change. Sure enough, your body just starts to adapt to a better place, and you feel better.

I have to be honest, I just think that, on the whole of stress, I think that most people are just not happy. They don’t love passionately. They don’t get a hug everyday. They don’t get somebody to tell them how great they look or how awesome people think they are. I think that that’s part of what’s hurting us today, is just the lack of human touch and human interaction. We talk through screens and we think it’s the same thing, and I don’t think so. I think there’s something about sharing energy with each other in a live environment that is slowly disappearing from this culture that we’re living in today. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but it just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Dr. Pedram:

Well, I thought Pokemon GO was going to be everything. I thought that was just going to fix my life. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s the human touch. We’ve run similar miles, and there’s very few practitioners that actually know how to do what you know how to do. I’m really glad you scaled this in a way where people can at least do it with props and whatever at home, because to find a really good practitioner who knows … I’ve been around physical therapy for a very long time, and most of them are just cranking on what they learned in school, and they haven’t done enough continuing ed, let alone the cool stuff. It’s hard because good touch will change your life.

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Sue:

That’s right. That’s right. That’s also, I think, what our instructors who teach people how to MELT, a lot of them weren’t manual therapists. They weren’t body workers. They were yoga instructors, Pilates. Some of them were just stay-at-home moms or desk workers or lived in a retirement home, and they were like, “I think I could share this. It helps me. I want to teach people how to help themselves,” and there is something about touching yourself that … You know, you’re not supposed to touch yourself, so don’t touch yourself. It really is, again, part of our mindset, that when you touch yourself, why do we have to go into it with such heavy force and brute strength? What would it be like to just ease compression in and make something feel good to your body, instead of, again, inflicting pain to feel like that’s what’s going to get you out of pain?

I think that a nice, good, touched body can change your life. You’re right, finding a great practitioner is like finding a needle in a haystack. When people say to me, “Well, is MELT like massage,” and I say, “Yes, except that it costs a whole lot less. It doesn’t take as much time. It gets you around having to find that needle in the haystack, that practitioner.” If you are blessed and lucky to have one of those phenomenal hands-on body workers, what is also brilliant is that they’re trying to help you, but then you go home to your daily life, and you trash everything that they’ve just spent the hour trying to help you with.

With MELT, it really prolongs what a great hands-on therapist can do, because you’re putting the same attention and the same care into your body that that practitioner did. I think 10 minutes a day of that good care goes a long way with self-care. It goes a long way. People just think it has to be hard, has to cost a lot of money, has to take a lot of time, it must be very difficult, but I would say MELT is simple. It’s easy. It works. It takes 10 minutes a day. Anybody can do it. We’ve got 90 year olds doing it. We’ve got 12-year-old athletes doing it. We’ve got 6-year-old ADD kids doing it. You can do it. Everybody can do it. There’s a part of MELT everyone can do. It does, it works. I think the cool thing about it is that you make these immediate changes, which, I think, is what makes people come back to try it again, too.

Dr. Pedram:

There’s something in there as well that I think you’ve said it like 6 times in the last minute, and you used the word “you do it.” You’re doing it. You’re doing it. We live in a culture where we have been trained to go to a doctor or a massage therapist or someone and say, “Fix me.” It’s very disempowering, and it really takes the nexus of control of health out of one’s individual sphere. I love any modality that really empowers the person and gives them the tools to heal themselves, so let’s get into the methodology. How does one MELT? What do you do? For our video people, a lot of our listeners are audio only, so I wish I could just get you up and show you stuff, but then they’ll miss out on it. Let’s get a sense of what this would roll out as.

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Sue:

Okay. We use these really soft balls which, if people are watching, this little, squishy ball. I don’t know if people know what a Kadima ball is, like a [inaudible 00:28:06] ball, something super soft that you can actually squish. What we do are these light touches. Some of the techniques, the compression techniques, we call gliding, sheering, rinsing. You’d be doing these small, compressive forces on your body. If you take a ball or a roller and you move it in an organized way, back and forth, that’s called a glide, and it’s a preparatory technique. If you sustain one local area and you create more of a frictional motion, more of an identified focal area of compression, that’s a sheer force. To rinse is, again, moving the ball in one direction or moving the roller in one direction through the body to instigate the fluid flow in the nervous system.

I think the nice thing about MELT, on a roller, you’re lying on the floor. You’re doing an assessment lying on your back. You’re putting that soft roller on your spine. You’re doing breathing techniques and diaphragmatic exercises, lengthening techniques, learning how to cause tensional pull in a fascial line from one point to another in the body. Instead of stretching the muscle, it’s a little bit more of a subtle pull sensation that you do. It’s a simple way to use soft balls and soft rollers to cause either tension or compression to the body in local regions to create global effect in the body.

Dr. Pedram:

Great.

Sue:

That’s pretty much what you do.

Dr. Pedram:

Great, great. It’s very counterintuitive for the people that are in the “no pain, no gain” mentality, which is, “I need to call in an air strike and really destroy this area that’s been getting me.”

Sue:

I always say, “It’s the dirty little secret of fitness,” is everybody’s saying, “No pain, no gain.” Well, the dirty little secret of fitness is that everybody’s injured. All of the fitness professionals have chronic pain, and my problem with the industry … and that’s actually what happened to me. When I was in my late 20s, I was at the peak of my fitness career. I had a Crunch Boot Camp video that sold like a half a million copies worldwide. I was on ESPN doing fitness things. Yeah, I was an international fitness presenter. I was in so much pain, I finally faced the fact that I was a hypocrite. I was lying to people, and if I was teaching people what I knew and I was passing that message along, I thought, “My God. I’m teaching people the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality.” I’m actually saying, “You have to feel pain to be fit,” and I said, “No more.”

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

I’m 46 now, and I have no pain in my body. My body looks better than it ever has. I’m leaner than I’ve ever been. I don’t hurt, and it’s a myth. It’s an absolute myth. I’m going to say this, though, if you want to be super muscular and you want those crazy, big muscles, and there’s a physique about it, you’re talking about a physique, you’re going to have to train really hard and very frequently to be able to make that effect, and I still believe that you can do all those things and not have chronic pain. If you add something like MELT or self-care to that regimen, I think that you can gain better results without all of the obstacles and the road blocks slowing you down.

That’s really the problem with athletes, is that 80% of athletes sustain an orthopedic type of injury, a joint injury, every year, 80%. There’s something missing in the way that we’re training and the training philosophy, and that’s why the world of fascia and the hands-on therapy and this self-care methodology is slowly filtering into the fitness industry, I think, to create remedy. I guess it was maybe in the mid 2000s where I thought, “Is anybody noticing that in a lot of health clubs, there’s a physical therapist office now? Is that not a red alert for people?” Workout on the gym floor, then go to the PT to fix everything that we’ve just messed up. I just didn’t make any sense to me, and that’s where I just thought, “I think I need to kind of veer out of being just in fitness and learn more about self-care.”

That’s what I did. In the 90s, I veered out into a more holistic approach and learning about how to live an active, healthy, pain-free life, not an active, “I’m mostly injured and I don’t feel good” life. I don’t want that kind of a life. I always say, even in aging and longevity, doctors are able to make us live longer, but nobody’s saying anything about living longer better. Are you just adding years that are lack of quality to the end of your life, or are you improving the quality of today so that when you look out at your future, you are almost setting yourself up to saying, “My future’s going to be better”?

You can’t … what do I want to say? Accidents happen. You can’t say, “I’m never going to get into an accident.” Car accidents happen. Problems occur. I think if you’re a healthy body, when those things tend to happen, you don’t suffer such long, prolonged consequences. I think it would be a good idea, for most people, to rethink their fitness programs and how they’re caring for themselves and why. Why are you working out so hard? A lot of times, it’s a body image problem. It’s an emotional problem that no one’s addressing.

MELT, I have to be honest, I think we store our emotions in fascia, so it is not uncommon in a MELT class where sometimes somebody suddenly has a, what they call, a somatoemotional release. They start working on a part of their body, and all of a sudden, they just well up with tears and have to run out of the room. I say, “Don’t run from it. We’ll hold this space. Let those tears out because that’s your body saying, ‘Oh my God. Am I letting this go? I don’t need to hold this memory anymore. I don’t need to hold that pain anymore. I’m going to let this out of my body,'” and it’s a pretty empowering thing when you watch people do it to themselves. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen, really.

Dr. Pedram:

It’s the true healing.

Sue:

Yeah.

Dr. Pedram:

It’s funny. We live in a culture where we will build layer upon layer of armor around that pain and move away from it instead of move through it and into it. It’s really like an orientation that’s skewed. That’s really driven the orthopedic industry, the physical therapy, the fitness. All these different industries are predicated on people pushing hard and hurting themselves, for the majority of these cases. People don’t get hit by buses that often, but people are overdoing it on the basketball court right now, as we speak.

Listen, you live in Manhattan, and that’s part of the culture. It’s like, “I have so much stress all day. I metabolize so many stressful events in my Wall Street job, in my whatever job, this, that, and the other. My life is so high in energy, in this area, that I think the response to it should be a high-energy workout, a boot camp, a crossfit, a this and that,” and then you tear the labrum in your shoulder. I see it every day of the week. Whereas, what you’re suggesting is the opposite of that, is just relax into your body and let your body melt into where it wants to be. Maybe it means lying around on the floor and taking a nap, and that’s probably what most of us need way more often. Right?

Sue:

Yeah. There’s so many things that come to my mind about what you’re saying, because it is part of why I think I understand stress so well, is once I had my private practice and I had opened it up, 3 years later, 9/11 happened. I was right here in Manhattan, watching live the buildings go down, and my practice exploded because there were so many people who had everything from physical issues because of breathing in all of the cement in the air and the smoke inhalation, to losing family members and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and wives and husbands, and it was just so heartbreaking to watch the damage of people’s bodies and the posttraumatic stress disorders that I witnessed for another decade after. I mean, I still work on people that are still dealing with trauma from decades ago.

We hold bad things in us. Even just how you said, we don’t want to address it, we hide from it or we like to commiserate about it. We have pain, and it almost becomes a friend. We have to change our behavior and our mindset with pain, change our relationship to pain and how we’re perceiving it if you want to actually eliminate the pain response. It is really intriguing how the body creates pain, how the brain processes pain, and how we feel it. It’s a pretty profound neurological event in the body, and knowing how to quiet it down and give the body something different to organize is sometimes what it takes to, I think, calm it down. It’s like a kid who is all over the place, all over the place, and you figure out a way to draw its attention to just this one thing. Instead of going like this, it goes, “Oh. Oh,” and that’s what you can do with your own nervous system.

I think of the connective tissues as being the backdoor. It’s like the secret entrance to the nervous system to quiet it down, is to don’t try to go right to the brain or pop a pill and inhibit what you feel, but to actually go through the backdoor and Jedi mind trick the brain for a second to say, “Woo-hoo, look over here,” so that the brain is then drawing attention there, and it shuts the signal of pain down. If you do that for a period of weeks, it doesn’t come back. It’s an intriguing thing to think about, how you can shut off that pain switch, because not much does if you don’t go into your body and address it. It’s just not going to just go away on its own.

Dr. Pedram:

No. No, as witnessed by our history. Right?

Sue:

Yes.

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah. Things don’t usually go away. People are moving into all sorts of drugs every decade, complaining more and more about things. Yeah, they don’t go away on their own, and it’s important. There’s one thing you said that I want to clarify, just because I know someone’s going to misread this, is when you talk about the hydration, yes, it makes a lot of sense, you’ve got to drink a lot of water, water’s good for you, all that, but we’re not talking about sitting there and drinking water for your connective tissue. How does the hydration work through this system?

#Quote by @suehitzmann via @PedramShojai

Sue:

Right. Okay. The water in our bodies is from what is outside of us. People think, “Well, if I’m dehydrated, I need to drink more water,” and I say, “Not necessarily,” because the thing about connective tissue, think about it like a sponge. A sponge that’s dried out doesn’t absorb water as fast or as easily as one that’s already moist. Connective tissue, for a lot of us, is literally like a dried out sponge. Drinking a bunch of water when cells are dehydrated, you’ll just pee more. It goes right through you, and you’re just going to the bathroom all the time and saying, “My absorption isn’t proper.”

What we understand about connective tissue is, like a sponge, you have to learn how to pump the sponge, how to work the fluid gently into the tissue, and once it comes into the tissue and it’s supple, if you can move the fluid through the system … Again, we are a fluid-based system. We’re like 90% fluid and 10% attitude and mental, but we’re a fluid-based system. Even our bones have fluid in them. We just have a mindset that everything is so still and stiff. I say, “No. Actually, we’re quite juicy inside.” On a cell formation, we’re really talking not about the macro, I’m really talking micro with you. When I’m talking about cellular hydration and how once you ingest water, either from what you eat or what you drink, it then has to get broken down. Water molecules also have to get broken down and then transported through fascia.

Again, if fascia’s not hydrated already, a lot of the nutrients that you intake doesn’t get absorbed. Therefore, it does not get transported to the proper cells. Now your colon is full of poo, and you’re grumpy, and you’ve got an attitude, and your BO stinks, and you can’t sleep, and your digestion sucks, and you’re gassy, and you burp all the time. You’ve got all these symptoms that you’re not realizing can actually be addressed through fascia also. Again, if you support the environment that all these systems live in and you get the transportation highway opened up and you get all the detours out, things move better in the body. We absorb better, and we get the tissue to appropriately transport nutrients to other cells. That’s how we get it through the body, but just drinking more water isn’t enough. You actually have to learn how to manipulate your own fascial tissue in a proper way, and you do not need to mash your fascia. You don’t need to bruise yourself.

There’s a lot of tools out on the market telling you, “Oh, blast your fascia away, and we’ll bruise the crap out of your body, and that’ll get rid of your cellulite.” I’m like, “Ugh, really?” It’s just no. The first thing you should not do is inflict pain on your body if you’ve got a problem. It’s the very opposite thing that would help you. It can go a different way. I just think people don’t know that it can. Again, I feel like I’m a messenger. I hang out with the researchers, and I’m a science geek. I read research papers everyday, because I like to, not because I have to. My gift, I think, has been to take very complex, scientific concepts and hypotheses and research papers and simplify it down so that I can give sound bites to the general public to get them to understand the complexities of this system without talking at them instead of having a conversation with them.

That’s really, I think, the most important thing that any therapist can do, is to not just use fancy words. If I sat there and tried to explain MELT and connective tissue and I started talking about fibroblasts and glycosaminoglycans, who the heck’s talking to me? But if I said, “Daily living causes stuck stress, and it’s what altars your nervous system’s ability to function efficiently,” people are like, “Yeah. I’m full of stuck stress. It’s my husband and my children and my job.” Yes, the environment outside of you will cause stress that you have to address inside, but, again, you can heal from the inside out. You don’t necessarily need to get things from the outside to help you, but you do need to learn how to do it. That’s the cool thing about the book, is that I’m giving people an education, a simplified education of science and research, and a methodology that they can actually do that’s easy to learn and easy to do.

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah, and I think you’ve done a great job at it. I’m actually going to start playing with this. I’m going to start doing it on a daily basis and reporting back. If there’s anyone in my audience that wants to do it with me, the book’s called the MELT Method by Sue Hitzmann. Put it up over here. I actually have her DVD set as well to show how to do it and go through it. I’m going to start doing this. Anyone who wants to do it with me, let’s do it. Let’s play with this and ease into whatever it is that has been stuck in our bodies. I do, I miss having Gale around, I’ve got to say, and to be able to have Gale in a box, that’s a powerful gift to be giving anybody.

Sue:

Just so you know, right where you are in Orange County, there are MELT instructors right where you are. I would actually tell anybody who’s listening, “Go to meltmethod.com and click on learn MELT and put your zip code in and see who’s in your area.” You might be surprised to find that there’s an instructor pretty close by who can actually talk you through it. For any of those skeptics out there who are like, “She’s just trying to sell me a product,” I say, “Just go take a class. Don’t buy anything. Don’t even buy into it, just experience it.” I can definitely say people MELT once, and they’re hooked because it makes an immediate change. It makes lasting results. It’s easy to do, and it just takes a few minutes a day. Why not try it?

Dr. Pedram:

Love it.

Sue:

Yeah.

Dr. Pedram:

Sue, you’re great. Thank you so much for being a torch bearer on this. This is really good work, and you’ve been able to popularize some of the best work that I know in our industry, and now you’ve actually been able to make it externally-facing and help more people with it, so thank you for doing that.

Sue:

My pleasure, and thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Pedram:

Yeah, it’s been great.

Sue:

Thank you.

 

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