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~
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~
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~
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 understood 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 Embryogenesis (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...
MELT on Pregnancy with Edya Kalev and Hallee Altman, Oct 8th &15th 11:00-12:15p
Get Your Body Back Oct 15-29th 11-12:15p with Sue Hitzmann
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:
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!!!
I 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!!
With 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!
On CBS News, correspondent Susan Koeppen did a segment, "Lax Regulation of Yoga May Put You At Risk". To me, this is no big news as the number of yogis who become injured in their practice increases every year. So is it the teachers that are to blame? Is it the practice? Unless you are taking classes from guru's like Jill Miller or Kristin McGee, two yoga instructors and method creators who I adore and trust with my own body and their methods, your chances of becoming injured are fairly high. You would think with such a "restorative" method like yoga your risk of injuring yourself would be low but think again. From planks to down dogs to full Asanas, ALL poses of yoga ultimately get you to "end range" joint positions. Take "wheel pose". Why just yesterday I passed by a room full of people with a yoga block between their knees arching as far as possible to get into the pose the instructor was cueing. After about a minute I just had to walk away from the glass doorway as my face must have scared the instructor into telling everyone to come out of the pose. It honestly looked awful. Everyone was in a different position, many who should simply not bother to attempt the pose were really going for it, their segmented movement was doing nothing but causing more stress on their already immobile shoulder girdles and over lax anterior femoral joints.
You can't really blame anyone but the person choosing to do the techniques when looking at group exercise. If you KNOW you are stiff, inflexible, tight, or more to the point, already hyperlax in your primary joints, NOTE HERE: YOU SHOULD NOT BE IN A GROUP CLASS!!!! Seriously, you should be doing one-on-one for at least two months with a qualified yoga practitioner (two named above would be a great place to start or one of their protogee instructors). Group exercise is for people who already have some idea of how to do yoga or have some background in the techniques.
In my personal experience of taking yoga classes, many people try way too hard to "go for it" in poses that they feel they can do really well and bail on the one's that they can't do so well. It should be the opposite. If you get into a pose super easy, move more slowly, move with less range and more control! Usually when you can "really get into a pose" you are showing hyper-flexibility, not strength! If you do a warrior pose great with your right leg forward but not your left, well then by GOD work on the left side!!!
Yoga seems simple but if you've ever taken a class, you know it's not so simple. Even restorative yoga where you sit and breathe isn't so easy when you are so tight in your hips you can't sit in a tailors position (indian style)!
So before you engage in pressing your palms to the floor or doing warrior poses, try three things before you go:
1. Hire a qualified instructor to evaluate your movement and determine if taking a group class is really a smart thing for you.
2. If you are low in funds, try some MELTing. For $40 you can buy a Hand and Foot Treatment Kit on line and improve your body's natural ability to return to balance. It's also a great way to assess the movement of your hands, feet, and spine BEFORE you do yoga or Pilates!
3. Do not go into a group class thinking you need to prove ANYTHING to ANYONE! If the teacher says, "Come on! I know you can do better than that!" I give you permission to stand up and be very un-yoga like and slap that instructor. I've had instructors push me deep into a down-dog and strain my hamstring so trust me, YOU KNOW BETTER than any instructor what you feel you can do. Yoga isn't about pushing yourself... it's about finding out where you are right now... not where you can be tomorrow.
Well after developing this technique over ten years, with total devotion to teaching people what I have learned about aging and longevity, it should come as no surprise that people will want to spontaneously write articles about MELT at will. Diana Whitney was one of those people. She called me earlier this year saying she wanted to write an article about MELT. Though I must admit from the interview, as with all writers, she was skeptical, asked about 1000 questions and talked to me for over an hour. After the first ten minutes her questions got more and more specific, more inquisitive, and I could just tell, she really was getting the importance of what I am so passionate about.
Debbie Karch who has helped me for the past 3 years "dumbing me down" and simplifying my ideas so people could really get the essence of this powerful technique came by tonight with the Pilates Style Magazine, hot off the presses. So hot my fingers smeared the ink!
I have to say, in 5 pages there is some really great info, smart writing (the best article I HAVE EVER SEEN ABOUT MELT... EVER) that I hope you will take a moment to read and pass along.
It goes without saying, MELT just works. It does and I can't be more blessed than to have people try it. Now that the article is out, I am going to make a MELT Map video for Youtube next week (when I get a moment in between writing a book, preparing for Inner IDEA and the PMA upcoming this month and November...) and show a video of the moves from the magazine.
Keep your eye open for the video clip!
In many of my trainings and nearly every class I teach, I always discuss the value of differentiated motion. I am sure many have heard me say, "You can't be efficiently mobile if you are inefficiently stable". Being able to differentiate one mass in motion while keeping all of the others stable is a key factor in both seeing instability and reacquiring it in any client or for any person.
In other words, being able to stabilize the thorax (your rib cage) and move the pelvis anteriorly and posteriorly around the femoral heads (your thigh bones) sounds slightly technical I am sure for some but it's essential to understand how to do it.
Today my good friends and colleagues Alec Helner and Deb Parsons discussed differentiation in a quadruped position and how working with someone in this position can help with proper repatterning of a squat, lunge or simply, gait. I couldn't agree more. However, for many, differentiating in a quadruped position is even too complex a position to begin in. This is where the MELT roller can come in handy.
The soft roller allows a person to identify spinal stability and rib position as a neutral region and truly accentuate pelvic movement.
Try this simple MELT Technique:
Step 1: Assess. Try to create a squat with feet hip width apart. Notice how your hips move, what you feel in your feet, and how effortlessly you move through the range.
Step 2: Differentiate. Lie on the soft MELT roller with your pelvis hanging off one
end so the end of the roller rests just slightly above the top of the pelvis. Try to articulate
tucking and tilting of the pelvis without squeezing your
butt cheeks, lifting or moving the spine or ribs, but by using your deep abdomen to acquire this small, yet dynamic range of motion.
Step 3: Reassess. Go back and try your squat again. See if your range has improved. If the
answer is that it has, well then I suggest going to youtube and typing in MELT Method and learn how to add the 3-D Breath Breakdown before the differentiated movement for maximum results. You'll not only feel more stable, you will move more efficiently!