Sue's blog

Babies cause thumb pain

I have to say, when the NY Times starts writing about babies giving new moms pain in the thumb and wrist I simply have to stop and blog about it. According to the article, heavy babies, lower crib height, and the age of the mother are causes of common thumb pain. What was once called De Quervain Syndrome is now mommy thumb. Simply, the sheath of connective tissue that surrounds  the two tendons that control movements of the thumb. become inflamed and chronically irritated causing quite a sharp pain to arise. I remember when I was in high school playing softball I gave myself that same symptom. Now things like texting and using "smartphones" is causing the same type of symptoms. 

Of course what's the solution according to the doctors?
1. rest, ice, wear a brace (not likely for a new mom to do any of those things. As if a mom would stop picking up her baby or put her new little chubber on a diet to help her thumb and wrist pain...

2. Shoot the area with cortisone or steroid injections and wear a brace.

I suppose it's one way to go but new mommies listen up. MELT!!! Do the hand treatment! It will take you all of 3-5 minutes a day and can alleviate the pain without drugs, surgery or injections. You don't even have to stop most of the habits you have which is the harder thing to change in your life. The treatment is fast, there is instant relief and it helps reduce inflammation so the area can heal... not to mention it also helps build wrist strength and flexibility.

Time for the NY Times to offer more than just the issues and solutions that don't address the cause of inflammation more just mask the underlying issues.

I have more to say on this topic but for now, go to youtube and type in MELT Method. There is a mini hand treatment posted for tennis elbow... start there and don't get the cortisone shot. Don't be fooled by quick fixes. Eliminate the causal issues, not the symptoms!

Hydrocephalus - Just another day in the life of a bodyworker...

Sounds like a type of dinosaur but it's not. Sadly, it's a very common congenital anomaly affecting the nervous system. It's a wonderful life I have that on any given day a question arises that is totally interesting and blog worthy-  this is one of those days. My colleague Jackie Leavitt, (amazing bodyworker in CA) called about a new infant she was going to work on with a similar issue -  dilated lateral ventricles. It's important to distinguish hydrocephalus from ventricular enlargement or what's called Ventriculomegaly.

For many of my readers this next little bit may blur your eyes but I have a point to make about all of this for the general adult. A baby with hydrocephalus has an issue with the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) (a type of connective tissue). All humans have CSF. It flows through a series of foramens in the brain, out through the subarachnoid space where it is venously reabsorbed. If the CSF pathways are obstructed or have abnormalities the CSF can accumulate under pressure of the cerebral mantle. If it becomes too great irreversible damage to the brain will inevitably occur.

CSF can be partially blocked for many reasons, this one above again occurs in the prenatal phases of development and nothing is done about it until after birth with a shunting procedure. I have only worked on two infants with this syndrome, both of which had a blockage in a structure called the aqueduct of Sylvius.

However, I've also worked on adults with blockages in the aqueduct of Sylvius (cerebral aqueduct) who did not have any pre or post natal issues as infants. One had this type of blockage after a car accident. His symptoms were vertigo, leg pain, and numbness in his feet. His issue was in his skull though, not in his legs. Alleviating the pressure in his mid brain (mesencephalon) almost immediately relieved all of his symptoms though it took a few session to fully bring him to a place where he could manage a few other preexisting issues that went untreated.

These types of things are no joke. Tough to treat, tough to witness - especially when it's in an infant. It's amazing that our body, the human form can endure all of our day to day as well as it does.

Just another day in the life of a bodyworker...

Alzheimer's and Dementia - Time to Touch

I don't know whether to be overjoyed or frustrated when I read articles in the NY Times and wonder why MELT isn't making headlines yet. A recent article, "Children Ease Alzheimer's in Land of Aging" it was written that young children are going to the senior homes and hospitals to do foot massages on elderly dementia patients.

Over the past few years of trying the MELT hand and foot treatment on everyone and anyone to see what the results might be. In the past years many of us have worked with people who are afflicted with Alzheimer's, Dementia, and the negative affects we associate with aging like memory loss, fatigue, and overall weakness both neurologically and physiologically. The results that have been created are nothing short of miracles and frequently even I have a hard time believing the letters sent in by friends, clients and MELT instructors about the results they have had using MELT. It goes without saying, I'd love to help. After reading the NYT article I tried to then find Mrs. Lee and her clinic that focuses on helping the dementia epidemic happening in South Korea. Though I came up short in finding anything, if anyone out there reads this and can figure out how to connect with their clinic or if anyone is affiliated with an Alzheimer's or Dementia clinic ANYWHERE, please contact me. I'd be happy to donate some MELT Kits to initiate some true documentation and study on MELT with these afflictions. I've seen clients become more mentally clear, I've seen movement improve, smiles come back to faces that seem blank and void of emotion, and I know stimulating the "autopilot" with MELT helps a body respond more appropriately to life. So for anyone out there reading - help a sister out and let's get MELT to South Korea and see if there is a way to combat aging of the mind and body in new ways. Medicine certainly isn't curing aging... so let's just control our living process more efficiently.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/health/26alzheimers.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Is Chronic Pain linked to a lack of oxygen at the cellular level?

It’s been speculated that all chronic pain, suffering, and disease are caused by a lack of oxygen at the cell level. This idea is does hold some merit and reason for more study and investigation.

Oxygen and it’s transportation and usage in the body on a cellular level is critical and it's also reliant on more than just our breathing it in everyday. In my opinion pain and chronic suffering is caused by a lack of cellular hydration or hydration within the cellular matrix that all cells are bathed in. As we age and just due to active living, our body can become dehydrated on a cellular level to the point where our cells spend more time protecting themselves from us than working with us! And once a cell is in a “fight to survive and protect” mode, it resists to intake fluid or oxygen. In its own attempt to survive, it kills itself. Imagine this happening to thousands and thousands of cells at any given time. This is the inefficiency cycle that ultimately turns into the dysfunction cascade ending in pain and disease. I am simplifying science to make a point that quite simply, cells and how they regulate function is reliant to the fluid state and the oxygenated state of our body.

A great deal of this dehydration is certainly linked to how our diaphragm moves on a day to day basis. For many of us, our daily stress accumulates and over time causes everything from our breathing to become inhibited leading to digestive issues, balance issues, and an inability to regulate our stress levels long term. So how can we easily help our body regulate our cell state? Two ways -

1). STAY HYDRATED! This means drink water, eat water filled foods, reduce your intake of useless sugars and salty foods.

2). Work with diaphragmatic techniques -  the MELT 3-D Breath Breakdown, 3-D Breath, and Focused Breath sequence works like a charm to do two things at the same time. One is to quiet the stress reflex so our nervous system can self-regulate the body on a cellular level without our intervention and to recreate dynamic movement of the diaphragm. For many of us, even yogis who breathe "full belly breaths" don't necessarily have a diaphragm that is moving fully in 3-dimensions. From how we sit with our back up against a chair to again, how we deal and manage our stress can inhibit our diaphragm from moving to its fullest potential. When our diaphragm is encouraged to move fully, when we assist it in doing so, we can regain much of the vital oxygenation needed for cell function. I've found doing this technique on a soft roller to be the most beneficial - far more than lying on the floor, when you lie on a roller you are lying directly on your spine which never happens in a normal day. Your nervous system gets flooded with body sense information when you lie on a roller. It helps to quiet the stress reflex far beyond just the simple techniques of breaking down a 3-D Breath. Try it for yourself. This technique is posted on youtube.             Just click on this link to give it a try:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_WRaDa8Ocs

Liability for the Yoga, Pilates, or Fitness professional

An important business strategy for anyone working one-on-one in the fitness industry is having liability insurance. I’m a member, presenter, and fan of IDEA. One great reason to be a member with IDEA is their low-cost liability insurance! You can protect yourself for up to $1 million per occurrence annually for about $15 per month! IDEA members can purchase this insurance on line at www.ideafit.com/fitness-insurance. Be smart and invest in your business while securing your protection with IDEA liability insurance!!

For those of you who have asked about liability insurance, this is the best, least expensive way to go!

The Best Ab Exercises?

The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy did a recent study on which common fitness exercises activated abdominal muscles the most. They chose common exercises like floor-based crunches, bent-knee sit-ups, roll-out, pike, knee-ups and a few others. They tested 18 participants using electromyographic data machines while they executed 5 repetitions of each exercise.

Piking.jpgThey found that the pike (example of a Pike on a roller instead of a ball is pictured on the left) and roll-in/out (example of a Roll-in/out on a roller instead of a ball is pictured on the right) techniques activated the most abdominal muscles such as upper and lower rectus and external and internal obliques. It also used Latissimus Dorsi while minimizing lumbar paraspinal musculature and rectus femoris.

Now for those of you that read this and are thinking, well, let me try those techniques myself so I can get flat, strong abs let me propose something. Although the study showed the pike and the roll-out activated the superficial muscles of the torso what the study doesn’t show is… if there is any benefit of contracting those muscles when it comes to true improvement of core stability. Roll in-out.jpgI mean really, who cares if a movement contracts superficial abdominals independently of other, more supportive networks in the body anyway? Movements that decrease the deep paraspinal muscles in movement means that you MUST then have a stable shoulder and pelvic girdle to create these movements without the risk of doing the movement outweighing the benefit . Isn’t the point of strengthening the core to connect to the deep system that provides our spine and pelvis MORE stability? Am I missing something? Just because exercises activate abdominal muscles doesn’t make them good intrinsic "core" exercises.

First, the deep core I hate to say isn’t a “muscle” system. It’s a neurofascial system so learning traditional, complex abdominal exercises won’t help you keep your organs, spine, or pelvis more protected, stable, or efficient. Further, doing things like pikes and roll-in and out techniques require strong “girdle” stability. Don't get me wrong, I love these types of movements however they are only performed in a progressions that would begin with insuring deep core connection, shoulder girdle stability and pelvic stability. You can't do these types of movements without these three factors being securely integrated FIRST. You might contract your Rectus Abdominis while doing these moves but not without compressing your spinal joints and potentially injuring your shoulder if you don't follow a protocol. The shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle must be very strong, very stable, and control must be precise to even attempt these techniques.

So before you decide to pike your abs out, consider testing your stability system for functionality first. Here’s a simple test called Differentiation you should try before considering advanced core techniques:

Basic Quadruped.jpgPut your body in a quadruped position (pictured here on the right). Try to tilt and tuck your pelvis and see if in doing this movement you can keep you ribs still and stable. Keep your focus on the stability of your rib cage rather than on the movement of your pelvis. Then, try to stabilize your pelvis in a neutral position and flex and extend your ribs again, focusing on what’s staying stable rather than what’s moving. Sound easy? Well try it and see how you do. If you find you can’t keep one mass stable while moving another you are NOT ready to do movements like pikes and roll-outs. If you have an inability to do this movement, try a MELT Strength class to improve your deep core timing, pelvic girdle stability, and shoulder girdle stability. It’s the fastest way to improving the stability of your core without compromising your shoulder or hip joints! Bottom line, don't sacrifice your innate core stability for flat abs. Have fun but be safe with all of your exercise techniques!

Pilates and MELT – A Perfect Marriage

In my recent blog, The Pilates Community Embraces MELT, I promised to share with you why MELT is helping Pilates instructors offer more profound results with less risk of pain and injury.

The techniques of Joe Pilates remain innovative more than sixty years after he developed his method. The Pilates Method has made its mark as a technique that helps to improve posture, balance, and core strength. The intention of Joe Pilates’ series was to help correct muscular imbalances, improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility as well as increase breathing capacity and organ function.

Often people skip over much of Joe Pilates’ intention and only piecemeal the method. The result is that although many people see significant improvement in their muscle strength, too many people also increase their potential to have pain during their day-to-day activities.

The simple fact is that MOST participants don’t enter Pilates in a one-on-one setting on the apparatus the way Joe Pilates intended. The brilliance of his equipment design are the spring tension straps for feet or hands and supports for the back, neck, and shoulder that challenge and support the body as it learns to move more efficiently. This is also how you discover what proper execution of each Pilates exercise feels like. Joe Pilates intended for his mat work to be used when, and only when, the body was balanced, coordinated, and aligned.

Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, Pilates has been washed down by those who see the method and as just another group exercise technique. The influx of Pilates Mat "quickie certifications" that produce inferior instructors are big money makers for studios. People of all fitness levels and ages are flocking to the enormously growing number of mat classes across the country, because at first glance, it looks easy and doable. Adding to this equation are a growing number of older clients who are inactive, injured, or both, who try a mat class, often on the recommendation of their doctor.

Yet, when most people try a mat class for the first time they find out just how challenging many of the exercises are. And, proper form is almost impossible without the support and resistance of the apparatus. Without realizing the consequences, people put their sole focus on becoming stronger in Pilates Mat, which was never Joe Pilates’ intention. This goal ultimately leads many people to pain.

The fact is that there are a growing number of Pilates’ lovers, and instructors, in chronic pain. My manual therapy practice is filled with them. In fact, most of these clients have muscular imbalance and uncoordinated movement, and resulting pain that has increased as a result of doing the Pilates in a group setting.

I am committing to playing an active role in reversing this trend! Although I still advise to start with the apparatus work, I don’t want to discourage people from exercising with Pilates Mat. So, I’ve developed MELT techniques that use a half roller as a prop to modify Pilates Mat exercises and make it possible to bring the integrity of the exercises as close as possible to the apparatus work. Participants can also dramatically improve the results of their mat class and reduce the risk of pain and injury by first preparing their body with MELT Reconnect, Rebalance, Release, and Rehydrate techniques.

Tomorrow I am teaching Pre­Conference Workshop at the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) Conference in Long Beach, CA with my MELT on Pilates’ co-creator, Hallee Altman. I am thrilled to be invited to present at the PMA, a certifying agency dedicated to the true teachings of Joseph H. and Clara Pilates. It is a great opportunity to share the new neurofascial science of connective tissue, the nervous system, pelvic stability, and the “powerhouse” to seasoned Pilates instructors. I am confident that they will embrace the potential that lies in incorporating the applicable techniques of this new science and proven techniques of Pilates. MELT and Pilates will surely be a lasting union.

Be on the lookout for MELT on Pilates Teacher Trainings in 2011!

Post Partum Pain - "Get Your Body Back"

On a recent, very windy fall day at the JCC in Manhattan I spent 75-minutes with a dozen women, 9 of which have in the past two years has given birth to at least one, some two babies.

IMG_0359.jpgLast year I was asked to do a small series that would address Post Partum Pain. I decided to call the series, MELT for New Mommies - “Get Your Body Back.” Today I spent about 15 minutes talking about common issues I see in my post partum clients who come to my private practice seeking help in getting their body out of a particular pain pattern or improve an issue like incontinence or prolapse.

As a manual therapist, and living on the upper west side of Manhattan, one of NYC’s Mecca-for-Babies hot spots, I get to see a LOT of women preparing for and going through pregnancy, and reconnecting to their bodies after giving birth. I am also at an age where many of my closest girlfriends have given birth in the past year. A mini “baby-boom” in my practice has made me quite savvy with what happens to MOST women when they have a baby. In the last year I’ve had the pleasure of working on over 50 women through their entire pregnancy, many are still my clients coming in a few times a year to maintain or tune up their body’s efficiency.

There are a few “100% of the time findings” that I have found with all of my pregnant clients. Simply, these are occurrences that WILL JUST HAPPEN if you have a baby. For example, while you are pregnant your organs are going to move, your spine and pelvis will displace in numerous ways, and your chemical composition will change. The cause of why these commonalities happen actually involves many variables. The long-term effects of these common changes are also as individual as our faces are unique. IMG_0365.jpg

Whether or not your organs will return to ideal position and function, your pelvis will regain balanced synergy, or your hormones and chemical composition will allow you to adequately breast feed, sleep, or digest food is all relative to the new mom who comes into my office. Two post partum women can come to see me for back pain. One woman’s pain is due to the adhesions from her cesarean, the other’s pain is from instability in their right hip. The symptoms are the same but the cause is different. They each need a special MELT “Map out of Pain” and back into efficiency.

In my private practice I do this one-on-one. However, it’s expensive to see me for private sessions, so instead I have learned how to treat (and teach others to treat) an entire room of women and give them self-care tools to use at home. It makes it much more affordable to learn how to self-treat your own body rather than always going to multiple therapists to stay active, healthy, and pain-free.

So I shared with the class some briefly simplified models, metaphors, and ideas as an overview of my intention of this series. I showed them how to reconnect and rebalance the Autopilot, decompress their own neck and low back, and stimulate a cellular hydration effect.

By asking just a few questions I was able to evaluate all of them and have them learn to evaluate themselves. It was a great platform for the three MELT Instructors who where assisting me to learn to customize MELT for post-partum women. They got to see the common adaptations that 100% of the woman needed and the unique MELT Map each needed to address one issue over the next two weeks. Then we get together again they will be ready to learn the MELT Strength techniques that will help them “Get Their Body Back” to a more pain-free, efficient place.

There were only 3 sessions in this last event and due to the great response and need for this series, I will do an extended series at the JCC in Manhattan early next year... this time on the weekend when new mommies can find more time to do this event! More to come!

I will keep you posted on our progress.

The Pilates Community Embraces MELT

It is official, the Pilates community has embraced MELT as a wonderful add-on technique that addresses the growing number of participants that come to Pilates injured or in pain. Pilates instructors say that MELT helps their clients (and the instructors themselves), get out of pain AND progress to more challenging exercises with accuracy. I’ll talk about how this happens in a future blog. For now, here are some ways MELT is making a mark in the Pilates world!

 

Did you see the 5-page article, MELT Stress Away, in the most recent issue of Pilates Style Magazine? The author, Diana Whitney, really “got it” and wrote the best article I’ve ever seen about MELT. She highlighted some of the simple techniques we use in group classes, so I decided to make a 10 minute video on YouTube so you could have access to the techniques on video as well.IMG_1294.JPG

 

Last month, I presented MELT on Pilates to a packed room at the Inner IDEA® Conference in Palm Springs. The feedback was overwhelming. Pilates instructors saw huge differences in their own bodies, so imagine the benefits that their clients will see!

 

Next week I’m heading to Long Beach, CA for the PMA “Pilates Method Alliance.” I am going to do a “Pre-convention workshop” at the PMA called New Science of the Human Body: Neurofascial Science and Applications to Pilates – The MELT Method. I hope to teach a large group of people how to add MELT to their private Pilates practice and ultimately infuse it to their Pilates Mat classes. MELT preparations and modifications provide a simple solution to help keep Pilates students pain and injury-free regardless of injury, age, or fitness level. There are still a few spots left if you are interested.

 

While I’m there, I’m going to do two 90-minute Intro Classes for anyone (general public) to come and experience MELT with me first hand. So if you are in California, I hope you will come visit me and MELT in a live setting on November 3rd in Long Beach or November 4th in Valencia. Details are on here or in the Find MELT section of the website under Special Events.

 

I look forward to sharing MELT and this wonderful science that is budding all over the world regarding how to improve cellular hydration and neurological balance. Adding this new science to the Pilates model, will allow more people to experience the brilliance of Joe Pilates’ work. It’s a wonderful time for human sciences to flourish…

Even Old Ladies Have R's!

I loved reading this article in the NY Times about Esther Tuttle, age 99 and her long, healthy life. In the article they asked her how she stays healthy and she revealed three critical attributes that might be dubbed longevity’s version of the three R’s: resolution, resourcefulness and resilience! 

For those of us in the MELT world, we live by the 4-R's of MELTing: Reconnect, Rebalance, Release, and Rehydrate. Doing these 4-R's help to keep your body resilient to say the least but also is a superb resource for long-term wellness and the calming resolve of good health! You have to love this old gal who still does yoga, walks everyday and best of all, it seems she lives right here in the big apple! I am surprised we have not met yet but certainly we must try to get her to MELT! She says she still gets down on the ground everyday during her morning yoga practice! LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT! Once you stop getting down on the ground, moving about does get more difficult. 

She is a model for us all to listen to. See... aging isn't all bad. In fact it certainly has some assets!

Check out the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/health/19brody.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB

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