Sue's blog

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

THE SINGLE CURE

Those words are not meant to be in the same sentence. For anyone seeking one "cure all" for achieving anything from perfect form and accurate movement to over all good health and wellness for a lifetime... a perfect relationship... be prepared to not find a single answer or a single person who will give you all you want.

Over the past 12 years I have learned from many techniques, from many mentors and teachers who have all lead me to believe that there are many factors... too many from person to person to assume that it would be impossible to find one perfect solution to achieving a long, healthy, pain-free, functional life.

I have been told by a few in their craft that their teachers believe they have to focus and craft their one technique before adding anything to the practice. For example, Iyengar Yoga Instructors. The ones who go the distance, practicing for hours everyday, 7 years of steady practice and training is required to even call yourself a level one practitioner and it is strongly encouraged that you learn no other forms of practice while you are in training. The theory is if you have time to study something else you are not taking the practice seriously enough to ever master the art.

But is there really one single art or practice that is going to be the cure all for your wellbeing? As a creator of a method that helps people get out of pain I am going to say, NO. Over 20 years I have spent learning techniques, science, methods, and practices that ALL help body's return to a more ideal place. I have even learned a few where my teacher said, "Don't mix your practices. This technique is all you will need..." Those are the ones I use sparingly in my practice if at all. If my intuition can't help me choose which techniques to use once I evaluate my client I've been doing it wrong all this time and helping people by luck of the draw. That I don't believe for a second so I hope my sarcasm comes through loud and clear.

So remember, whether it be drug, relationship, practice... there is no one person, one thing, one technique that will be the end all - be all for any person. Anyone who believes that a person or a thing will be a perfect solution is living in shadow and should be questioned frequently until it's truth is shown for what it really is.

Continue to learn, listen, and grow. Being stuck in one thing will kill you faster than it will solve all of your problems. Change is a good thing~

Blast from my past

Today I taught MELT at the JCC in Manhattan to a VERY LARGE CROWD. There must have been about 50 people in a room that I think has capacity of about 40. I am sure at some point I will be in conflict with their fire codes! Although the room is packed, my eyes are always drawn to both new participants that raise their hands at the beginning of class as well as those that my is immediately drawn to knowing they will have some trouble doing many of the movements required to take a group class. Though for many these things may sound simple like getting down on the floor or using a resistant band but coordination is an individual sort of thing that many people don't quite possess as they age.

As I started class a few late comers entered the room. Tough when the room is already filled to capacity but that never stops them from coming in.  A little older woman came in (and I mean tiny like 4'6") in a bright red top and a an even brighter smile. I immediately recognized her as she simply has one of those faces you just can't forget. Charlotte Rae best known for her role as Edna Garrett in the sitcoms Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.

She is in her mid 80's now but spry, funny, and just as you would imagine her from those sitcoms that for me were a part of my childhood. We had to modify some things for her, giving her a half roller instead of a full roller on some of the techniques. But the simple adjustments made it easy for her to follow along. It was her very first MELT class that a friend said she must take. At the end of class she said, "What you are doing is wonderful and so important. I already feel the difference!"  I told her that I would be in LA the first week of November to do some intro classes so I hope she comes!

It was fantastic to meet her as I know she was also recently on Broadway. A true icon of sorts if you ask me. Her voice in particular is quite remarkable~

 

Angels of MELT

It's no surprise to me anymore that MELT and the instructors who have spent time learning the method will perpetuate this technique without me being there to hold their hand. Empowered, enlightened, brilliant people come to take my trainings time and again. Like minds seem to find each other, I believe that, thus they come with an intention and leave ready to bring it to life.

Over the past week I've gotten some stunning emails from a few of our MELT Instructors who are going the distance with the method, bringing it to places where scrutiny is high. It's a fear of many to speak in front of doctors as they are like "gods of science" to many who know everything. But doctors are people too; they are flawed in their own ability to stay pain-free and healthy. Their repetitive patterns catch up to their own body and it's assumptive to believe that they get out of pain with anything more than Advil.

One of our instructors, Betsy Bell ran a booth where she showed and explained MELT at the  96th Annual American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress. Betsy, the manager of the Health and Wellness Programs for a major Surgical Device company  emailed me to say MELT is hot at her company! "We have done a lot of education around MELT the past couple years and have fully integrated it into our Health and Wellness Program. It has caught the attention of our Sales and Marketing group, who are connecting dots and realizing the alignment with surgeons and our products relative to healing and preventing ergonomic issues."

The company she works for apparently I can't tell you their name but they are manufacturers surgical devices and sell to surgeons and hospitals. They also do education and training on surgical devices for Surgeons. So at this event Betsy pushed to have MELT presented there.

After her event, this was the email I received: "Hey Sue,  MELT was VERY well-received… and I was in my element! I also got several of our sales people engaged and will be working with the sales team on how to introduce the MELT method to surgeons when they discuss their company's holistic ergonomic approach with our instrumentation. This is only the beginning."

The Director of Professional Affairs who organized the event emailed her to say, "I would like to thank you so much for your passionate engagement. The Surgeon feedback from both the AWS women who sought you out to the male surgeons who remarked on its therapeutic benefits was overwhelmingly positive. You are truly credible and a precious asset to the organization!"


Another instructor, Gail Bell also sent me an email with a similar tone. She presented MELT at a workshop for Breast Cancer Survivors in Sag Harbor, NY and sent this email: 

Yesterday, I was part of a workshop for breast cancer survivors in Sag Harbor. MELT was one of 5 breakout sessions they could attend.  The women ranged from 22 to 92....all different sizes and weights and agility. A total of 44 women and 3 doctors.  I used the MELT foot treatment for all before the lecture started and they all responded extremely well...even the doctors. None of them had heard of MELT but they loved it.  One lady who was a masseuse told me I just put her out of a job. One that had tumors in her spine loved the session and bought a ball kit saying she felt great. Thanks for developing this technique.  It is so rewarding to see these wonderfully strong women get support and relief of body pain.

These experiences are not uncommon to those of us who share the method but having doctors over the past couple of years tout the benefits is always inspiring. And to help anyone get out of pain is being an angel in the real world. There isn't much better.

A great thanks to all of our instructors who have taken the bull by the horns and OWNED this method. You are certainly my angels~

Before you were born, your body was learning

In my training I call New Science of the Human Body I discuss how our connective tissue holds our history from conception on out to our life today. Embryology is a fascinating science and as science and technology continue to advance it is becoming more and more 1101101004_400.jpgunderstood how connective tissue  plays a role in all aspects of human development. I was thrilled to see an article in TIME Magazine, "How The First Nine Months Shape The Rest Of Your Life". I loved even more that it made the cover.

Tom Myers is one person who I think speaks eloquently about embryology and depicts the collagen network also known as connective tissue as an essential element in all of our developmental phases. To me, the connective tissue is as close to whatever you want to call the "life force" or "energy" that brings us to a living cell form by giving our DNA a finite area to develop in. Before we had arms, legs, organs, or even a brain, the connective tissue gave these structures the right sized compartments to develop in. As if it were asked by our DNA to give shape to where our little fingers would develop, it guided the forms into their assigned places ultimately to create a human form.

Why is it that some children are born without a limb, with spina bifida, with trauma that will be with them for a lifetime? What is it in the DNA and it's messages to the connective tissue that did not allow for the tissues to create proper compartments or seal fully at the right time during early development? It's a mystery to a great extent. 

I think it was Tom who said once in a training I had the pleasure of attending, "Change your body about your mind… it's the ultimate beginning." It all starts with the gene pool I suppose but we come into the world with an amazing amount of natural skill and a  vast amount of potential interventions to assist you throughout your life.

If all of the thoughts about embryology peak your interest, I would recommend a book by Candace B. Pert -  "Molecules of Emotions". It will change how you look at development and embryology to say the least.

Cells are listening to the mechanical environment they develop in as well as chemical composition of the microfilaments they hold relation to. Our connective tissue  is a cytoskeleton. As we move and adapt from the womb on out it can adjust every cell and how every element of the DNA responds to our movement. The quality of all cells can change adaptively with movement on a chemical level.

There is something called a meta-membrane which is the layer around the cell structure in the embryo- that membrane is a form of fascia. So our connective tissue net begins as a meta-membrane. It hold the memory of our development, the environment we developed in, and the connection to our mother is ever present during this development. The movement of our cells create the embryology and the distinction of joints and points of movement in a human body that will be used for a lifetime. So although we think we have ultimate power to adapt, mutate, change our behavior, our movement, and how we handle stress, there are aspects of our first nine months that most people will never consider important to those things. As a manual therapist who works with people in pain, I can't tell you how many times discussing their pre-birth months has helped them unwire their current state of distress. It may sound like a "hippy" idea but I must say... it does seem to hold relevance and science to a great extent is providing some tangible reasons as to why we should take these things into consideration.

Two other books I like on embryology are: The Developing Human (Keith L Moore) and wfetal_1004.jpgEmbryogenesis (Richard Grossinger) for those of you who love this stuff. Good reads. (I say that with a giggle as they are heavy duty books. For my science geeks...

This all seems so appropriate as our October month of workshops revolves around pregnancy, MELT on Pregnancy and post partum pain and how new mommies can Get Their Body Back in the critical years of development for their new babies. Hope to see some of you at our events who take interest in all of this! More to come...

http://www.jccmanhattan.org/cat-content.aspx?catid=2829&progID=21959

MELT on Pregnancy with Edya Kalev and Hallee Altman, Oct 8th &15th 11:00-12:15p

http://www.jccmanhattan.org/cat-content.aspx?catid=2829&progID=21960

Get Your Body Back Oct 15-29th 11-12:15p with Sue Hitzmann

Is America Crazy on Crestor® or Lazy for It?

As many of you know I am crazy over helping people reduce general inflammation in any way possible. As research begins to more readily prove that Statin drugs are NOT helping to reduce your risk of heart disease… it’s becoming very clear that understanding more about heart disease and risks is important!

For the thousands upon thousands of people out there with heart disease or who have had bypass surgeries listen up. I want to tell you about things that you may not know about but things that I am dying to know more about.

Many people, including our former president Bill Clinton (and former VP Dick Cheney) have had bypass surgery and for many just like ole Bill, this made them turn a new leaf, eat better, exercise more, and pay closer attention to keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check. However, just like former President Clinton, many bypass grafts re-occlude (like his did at the beginning of this year – he only had the surgery 6 years ago by the way). To reopen the vessels his docs inserted two stents. Dick suffered his FIFTH heart attack this year regardless that he has taken Statin drugs for two decades! Even though his LDL was a stellar 72 mg/dL (due to taking Statin drugs) it did NOT prevent him from suffering yet another heart attack!

It’s widely known by cardiologists that most if not all patients undergoing coronary artery procedures often have to return every four to five years to re-open newly blocked coronary arteries. Bottom line here folks, conventional procedures are currently unable to prevent or reverse atherosclerosis (aka: heart disease).

I am not a huge fan of our mainstream medical field for some very apparent reasons at this very moment. Whether it’s the “health care cost crisis” which I think is a total fallacy that’s always being mentioned on TV that gets my goat or the way that the FDA fails to regulate drugs in a logical way, all I can say is, I smell a rat.

In my personal opinion, I believe there is no health care cost crisis. The way I see it, it’s government over-regulation within the disease-care system that causes our medical costs to be ridiculously high. I wonder…do politicians have any idea of what in the hell is going on? There must be money in it for them as well because no one is doing a thing to help this situation.

Many statin drug users suffer heart attacks regardless of the claims that pharmaceutical companies tout about statin drugs preventing heart attacks. There was a study I read awhile back that showed high levels of Crestor® reduced the level of C-reactive protein (CRP) by 37%. (This may be a good time to mention that elevated C-reactive protein (greater than 2mg/L) is one of the uber risk factors for heart disease as it is a marker of inflammation. Anyone who also has LDL-cholesterol lower than 130 mg/dL, and at least one other risk factor like hypertension, smoking, or an extended family history of heart disease is considered at risk for endothelial dysfunction… also known as heart disease.) The FDA gave AstraZeneca a billion-dollar gift by allowing their statin drug Crestor® to be the ONLY medication approved to reduce the risk of heart attacks in men and women. But is that what it’s doing?

Chronic inflammation, as evidenced by high C-reactive protein found in blood samples is one cause of atherosclerosis.  Some published studies have even found that elevated C-reactive protein may be a greater risk factor than high cholesterol in predicting heart attack and especially stroke risk!

Natural therapies have also been shown to reduce C-reactive protein but hey, with Crestor®  being deemed as the way to reduce it who’s hearing about natural therapies?? Is anyone caring that high-doses of Crestor®  can cause more liver-muscle damage than being an all-out alcoholic? Is it worth it? Maybe I am digressing on this blog a bit but as always, I simply speak on what I know and personally research.

What’s my point of this tangent about inflammation and reducing risks of heart attacks by using statin drugs? Let me put it simply in statistical terms. Even though Crestor®  shows significant changes in the direction of reducing heart attacks by lowering C-reactive protein synthesis, more than HALF of the major cardiovascular events in their studies will still occur despite the high-dose used of this drug! In statistical terms, while Crestor®  reduces the relative risk of the combined endpoint of heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes by 47%, the majority 53% of these cardiovascular endpoints in this high-risk study group will still take place!

What this means is that if you have cardiac risk factors and rely only on a high-dose of statin drugs YOU ARE STILL AT SIGNIFICANT RISK OF SUFFERING A HEART ATTACK!

This is a HUGE issue in America today. Reducing C-Reactive Protein requires a multimodal approach. It’s been shown that if you are over weight (2/3rds of Americans are by the way) you will have high levels of CRP. In fact, obese people are 3x more likely to have elevated CRP than normal weight individuals!

Bottom line, CRP correlates to chronic inflammation, increased risk of cancer, stroke, heart attack, and even dementia! Being over weight doesn’t help any of these situations.

So what are our “natural therapies” that can help us reduce the inflammatory response? Are you now ready to hear about those? Is my ranting enough to get you ready to hear some simple ways to reduce inflammation? I hope so because that’s the point of this blog. Let me give you a simple list of SUGGESTED ways to reduce the level of C-Reactive Protein in your blood. One way I can help you live longer better.

This won’t be the last time you will hear me discuss this topic by the way and I hope you will reply to my blog with your comments! Here’s a partial list:

1,000 mg a day of vitamin C reduces CRP (Berkeley study)

In maturing men, keeping your free testosterone levels in youthful ranges (20-25 pg/mL) and estrogen from getting too high (20-30 pg/mL max)

There are a SLEW of dietary supplements that suppress inflammation:

Fish Oil

Co-Q10

Acetyl-L-carnitine

Luteolin

Vitamin K

Curcumin

Soluble Fiber
I could put more on the list but this blog is getting rather hefty on info so let me conclude with one final tip about diet and food: Avoid foods cooked at high temp. It’s been shown in research that cooking food at 250-degrees Fahrenheit results in sugars and oxidized fats reacting with proteins to form glycotoxins in the food. This can cause you a low grade consistent inflammatory response and it promotes the accumulatioin of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in our connective tissue, which results in… you guessed it, accelerated aging!

I’ve got more to say about this topic but let’s see how you all respond to this blog. If the curiosity is there to know more, I’ll write more and give you more tips. You obviously know MELTing helps to reduce inflammation so drink some water and MELT today!!!

2010 Inner IDEA® Conference in Palm Springs

IIMG_1297.JPG am currently on the redeye (sadly not first class) returning from the 2010 Inner IDEA conference in Palm Springs, CA held at La Quinta Resort & Club. What a STUNNING resort it was. Though it takes nearly 3 hours to get there from LA, it's well worth the trip. I was bummed I arrived at nearly 7pm on Saturday, meaning that I missed every other presenter, the presenters "party" to meet everyone, and didn't get to sit in on any of the fantastic presenters that were there. I whizzed past Lawrence Biscontini, one of the very best presenters I've ever seen. Dynamic, clear, brilliant... need I say more? PJ O'Claire, and of course my "split apart" Jill Miller presented Yoga Tune Up. It's nice to present at a conference with so many like minded presenters and participants.

Marcia Hayes Inner IDEA Program Director and Rebecca Garity, Event Programming Coordinator put on quite a conference. Being in the serene setting of the red mountains in Palm Springs sets a perfect backdrop for a grounding event. I was happy to present two programs this year, marking my very first year at Inner IDEA. Gateway to Grounding and MELT on Pilates were well received. Though MELT on Pilates should have been a 4 hour workshop (sometimes I get ahead of myself thinking that anyone will be able to absorb the concept in two hours) but i have to say, the large group of about 75 participants really got it. They sensed the changes, they appreciated the intention, and they challenged their own bodies with some of the half-roller techniques we use in the MELT on Pilates curriculum.

All things considered, this event isn't just spectacular, it's totally special. A genuinely unique event. There is great care and love that you can sense in the air... although the air was about 117-degrees, it was sublime.

I look forward to submitting more workshops for next years events. I hope they will have me back! A big thanks to California MELT Instructors who TA for me, Claudia Brown, Gloria Stewart, and Jeanette Delman. Thank you ladies for helping me at the event! Great to see you!

And for those of you who attended, thank you too for your kind words, wonderful questions, and curiosity into the world of MELTing! I look forward to the upcoming instructor trainings in CA coming up in 2011!!

Video MELT Map for Pilates Style Magazine Article on YouTube!

2010_09-10_Cover.jpgWith such a great response from the Pilates Style Magazine article, "MELT YOUR PAIN AWAY" by Diana Whitney that was published in the Sept/Oct issue I thought it would be a good idea to make a quick 10-minute Mini MELT Map of what was printed in the article. I know having the written words is great but having an actual video tutorial I thought would be even better! Check out the MELT MAP for Pilates Style Magazine and try it for yourself! MELTing makes an immediate difference that you can sense and feel but what's more amazing to me are the lasting, long-term benefits the method makes.

Make sure you drink a glass of water before and after you MELT for more profound immediate changes and lasting benefit!
Stay tuned! More MELT to come. If you didn't see the great ABC7-LA spot by Lori Corbin that aired the other day, check it out through the link above!

HAPPY MELTING!!!

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