Sue's blog

Does massage help improve blood flow to muscles?

There was a recent article in the NY Times where associate professor, Michael Tschakovsky performed a study to answer this question: “Does massage increase blood flow to muscle and/or reduce the quantity of lactic acid after treatment?" His specialty is the study of blood flow to muscles, particularly in diseases like diabetes by the way.


I love science. I love testing things so this type of study I think is perfect. It’s not trying to determine too much at one time. So, it’s not the type of test that is trying to determine, “Does massage make people feel better or reduce depression or improve our ability to endure stress.” See, those types of tests are very vague not to mention bias. Those things are very hard to determine because it’s very relative to each individual and seeing we are all so diverse… and so on. Here what we have is a smart professor who was curious about if massage was doing what many massage therapist say their hands-on work does.


Regardless of the benefits or effects of increasing blood flow or reducing lactic acid, they are simply testing if massaging a body right after bringing a muscle to total fatigue does either. It’s not dismissing that massage has benefits of some nature and in the article even Tschakovsky says he gets a massage frequently regardless of what his study shows.


So basically how they performed the study is they had 12 dudes squeeze a handgrip repeatedly, putting their forearm to exhaustion and then put a catheter into a deep vein that “drains” the muscle to test lactic acid build up and viewed blood flow with an ultrasound machine.


You would think that massaging a muscle right after doing strenuous muscular exercise would increase blood flow to the muscle, help improve muscle performance and strength. But if you think about it, if you squeeze your arm, do you think your squeeze increased or decreases blood flow? The answer is, it decreases blood flow and that’s just what Tschakovsky found. Think about it. You squeeze a body part, blood flow will be pushed away from where you are squeezing, at least for a moment.


As for lactic acid, it has been widely thought of as the “waste” that is created during excessive muscle contraction that inhibits muscles from efficiently firing in a consistent way. Fatigue sets in and ultimately your body goes to failure.


However, the lactic acid is understood as a chemical reaction that actually provides an entirely different function in my field of expertise. The production of lactic acid is a good thing. After movement, lactic acid is actually reabsorbed and used as fuel that muscles absorb to regenerate and return to efficient function. So removing it in the first place doesn’t sound like something you want to do anyway… and of course they also found that massage decreases muscle absorption of lactic acid, which is totally contradictory to many massage therapists beliefs. I of course am not a massage therapist so I am not surprised at the finding but hey, to my massage lovers, it’s okay that it’s not improving muscle absorption of lactic acid because it feels sooo good!


Last month I wrote a blog about DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and linked to an article where new science is proposing DOMS is actually CAUSED by an adaptation in the CONNECTIVE TISSUE and the ache you feel 24-48 hours after strenuous activity is caused by that adaptation. The fatigue or damage is in the connective tissue, the muscle cell adaptation is relatively unnoted and lactic acid is NOT what makes you feel sore a day or two after exercise. So let’s not be too bummed about the fact that right after muscle use massage doesn’t eliminate lactic acid or help with it’s absorption into muscle.


Because, here’s the thing… who in the heck is getting a massage between sets of bench press or push-ups anyway? Will these findings stop you from getting a massage? Did it stop the professor? Nope. And even his wife told him not to cancel her appointment for her massage.


No one is saying that getting a massage the day after you do a serious leg day at the gym and have sore muscles isn’t going to make you feel better. Believe me, it helps. But it’s not because it’s helping your muscles anyway. And here’s where I must yet again put in my two cents.


What I would love to see is SOMEONE in the US actually do a study on CONNECTIVE TISSUE and what affects massage has on this tissue. Also what happens when the connective tissue is dehydrated and adhered or less extensible than it should be for optimal movement efficiency which IS happening in everyday living!


In any event, it’s a relevant article, and I’d love to sit with the professor and see if we could elaborate on his findings and sway him to do his next study on something even more important. The behavior of connective tissue after massage. Go science!

For those of you like me who want more info on the science part and actually like reading the abstracts, check out the actual study:



And The World Keeps MELTing

Well I feel like I have been out of the loop for blogging. I have literally 3 blogs with such great info I want to send out to all of you but I have to tell you with all that's going on, this is about the most FULL summer roster I have ever seen! As a single business owner of a VERY growing business it's enough for me to take a shower everyday let alone blog about all the things I want to share with people who want to know what I know... which is to say about longevity, aging, and complimentary therapies, I must by now be considered an expert of all of them!

So what's up with all things MELT??? Well, I am not sure where to start. Should I tell you about all of our AMAZING instructors who are out there teaching this method from NY to CA and up as far as Montreal and south to Florida? Should I tell you that Debbie Karch and I are about to dive into writing the MELT Method book, soon to be published by Harper One with our expert editor Nancy Hancock? Or what about the 7 instructor trainings, conventions, and workshops I am doing between today and September 1st?! And then there is my personal life with the challenges I am sure we all must endure at some point as we deal with both our own aging and that of our parents!


All I can say is that things are in FULL SWING here at the MELT hub in NYC and we are just getting going. It is a whirlwind filled with everything from making "sizzle reels" to on-line videos. We are moving ahead. If you have not MELTed yet... what are you waiting for? My book? Well, it's coming soon. 2011 is going to be the MELT year on a global level. Watch what's about to happen!

MELT Returns to Connecticut TOMORROW!!!

One of our very best MELT Instructors, Amanda Cizek will make an appearance at the beautiful Fuller Yoga Studio in Hartford, CT this Sunday! There are two classes Amanda will be hosting:
10:00a-11:30a     90 Minute Intro to MELT
12:00p-1:00p       Intro to MELT Core

These are two of my favorite programs as you get to dive into the nuances of MELTing in a short amount of time. The MELT Core techniques are nothing short of PROFOUND. Really, even I am surprised as to what we can accomplish with people in one hour with the Core Treatment. The Neurocore is a keystone of MELTing and no other techniques are designed to address the dual neurological stabilizing mechanisms of the body is such a simple way.


I too will be heading back out to CT in July for some MELT Immersion Treatments and we look forward to more events out that way! I am in the midst of the final weekend of a MELT Teacher Training and we will now have even more instructors in CT, NC, and NY!


I will also be preparing to implement MELT at the JCC's across the country in the upcoming month so stay tuned!!
Click on the link to register through

That is Fuller Movement's events page!

An MELT keeps on growing

Well I don't know about anyone else out there but in my world there is A LOT of energy just buzzing around out there. For me, I've had energy flying from every angle! From business to family... it's buzzing everywhere.

I have about 3 blogs I am in the midst of writing but with a book proposal and offers out, a teacher training beginning tomorrow, two revised programs happening next week... clients... products... it's ENDLESS!!!

What's amazing to me is that even when I am doing all of this business stuff MELT and a bundle of amazing MELT Instructors are out there teaching MELT! From NY to LA there are instructors teaching people how to MELT their body aches away and empower themselves to stay healthy... longer!

Loren Silber is doing a 2-hour Special MELT event on June 26th at Balance Arts Center for all of our MELTers in NYC, and Liz Barkan, one of our Master Instructors is doing a 90-minute intro class at Crunch this Sunday, June 13th!

Our very own Gloria Stewart has had TWO radio interviews in LA about MELT for the general public and for older adults!

This is a revolutionary method of self-treatment that if you haven't tried it... tell me! WE WANT TO MELT YOU! Keep your eye out for more info on longevity, aging, and new science of the human body in my upcoming blogs! Until then, make sure to check out our class schedule in our FIND MELT link on the site!

MELT in the News: Reuters review of MELT

In a recent article by Dorene Internicola, "MELT Method: Massaging the achy spaces in between" she nicely explains MELT! Although DiNubile gladly makes his own choice and definition of what MELT is and what it does the article comes pretty close to grasping the uniqueness of the method. DiNubile misses the point that I am trying to define that MELT is NOT just working on tight muscles and tendons and elongating them. That's actually NOT what MELT does but again, with the lack of understanding the behavior of connective tissue, this traditional definition will continue to put a marker on MELT.

He does see that MELT has an ability to improve posture and flexibility but until you really try MELT defining what it can do and it's benefits will never be fully understood.

As for wanting science behind the improvements of longevity, I would never bother to try to do a study on such an idea. How do you test longevity? You would have to live a full life and then evaluate it after. Silly I think. Instead, we are in the process of looking at things you can actually do a study on that regards connective tissue as the tissue we would study... not the muscles.

I have more to say on this topic but it will have to wait for my next blog. I have a few I have been dying to write but with a book proposal on the table and an offer to be made in the next 24-hours it's too much to do in one day!

Keep MELTing and stay hydrated!

Vitamin D - Is Sun Exposure Worth It?

I know I have written about this topic before but the summer months are fast approaching and my sun worshiping friends (you know who you are) are already turning different hues of brown and bronze and it’s only Memorial Day weekend. There are many days of tanning left in the season.

In another blog I will write about DNA, sunscreen, and aging but for now, let me tell you what I know about Vitamin D and the sun. First, did you know that “Vitamin D” isn’t even a vitamin? Turns out it’s actually a hormone our skin naturally produces when we expose it to sunlight. Yes we can buy it in a vitamin pill form, but in our body... it's a hormone. If our body is unable to naturally produce this hormone for reasons such as stress and aging it’s as bad as having a thyroid issue (not having enough thyroid hormones) or not having enough insulin.

Vitamin D is now more understood and recent science shows that this natural hormone helps with the dying and development of all cells. So that means if you don’t have enough of it, you are more prone to have dying, damaged cells mutate and linger turning into cancer cells and tumors potentially. D lets the cells depart, die... whatever you want to call it. Without vitamin D it’s sort of like the cells won’t just die. And if cells won’t die, over time less and less are produced. Welcome to the aging process…It’s pretty well known that D helps with calcium absorption and bone integrity as well which also helps us slow down the effects of father time. Mind you, I am simplifying the concept so anyone can get the idea of vitamin D's importance to our longevity.

However… most doctor’s today will say it’s better to take a supplement like vitamin D3 if you are tested (with a 25 Hydroxy vitamin D test by your doctor) to have low levels of vitamin D in your blood rather than sit in the sun on a summer day. The issue with this is the fact that “vitamin D” is a HORMONE, which means the dosage is pretty important if you are getting it from supplementation. You wouldn’t want to take just any amount of thyroid medication so you shouldn't do it with D either. Under a doctor’s supervision a proper dosage can be created and used efficiently. With Vitamin D, don’t self-medicate – with medication or with the sun. This is one of those times where a doctor’s intervention is a smart choice and sitting in the sun all day is just a bad idea in this day and age. I am sure we are all well aware of the ozone layer and environmental issues that are new things we are dealing with and will continue to deal with over our lifetime.

And with the sun, although it helps us naturally produce this essential hormone, it’s rays age us more than stress by a landslide on the surface of our skin. Getting too much sun damages your DNA. Again, a topic for another blog. And the bigger bummer is when you wear sunscreen it inhibits vitamin D production caused by the sun’s rays so you can't even use that as the excuse as to why you are in the sun all day to begin with. So again, you can supplement with D3 pills so your body produces the hormone more efficiently and you can always do self-tanners as the alternative to tanning in the sun.

Sadly for me the alternative of trying self-tanners never seems to work out. Instead of looking smooth and bronzed, my legs get super spotty like liver spots (I feel like I have a disease when I look at my lower legs) and it grosses me out! I took the risk and tried using a bronzer/self-tanner again this year and now have orange spots all over my legs yet again. I don't even know why I try. Vanity is a bitch. It looks horrible and at some point I will have to have my skin either bleached or laser treated I am sure. Any other suggestions for my own skin issues are gladly welcome! In the meantime, use sunscreen because it keeps you looking young and be mindful of your sun exposure - and remember, when you drink you are more at risk to have a sunburn! Happy summer everyone! Drink some water!

These are just some of my favorite things

There are some items and products that I wish I had stock in! Some things I buy I hear myself saying, "Why didn't I think of that?!" It's summer, the warm weather is out and so are those flimsy flip flops! Here in NYC the sidewalks to NOT turn into soft sand yet many people feel it's appropriate to pop on a pair of $1.99 flip flops from Walmart and bust a move around town. I know, your sneakers are hot and you want to show off your pedi but seriously it's one of the reasons I make a KILLING in the summer months with clients who develop hamstring strains, foot pain, and low back issues.

As I feel I can call myself the Longevity Queen, I thought I would start telling you all about my favorite products that are a must buy this summer season. I could put a top 10 list together, but let's just pick the top 3 for this morning's blog post:


1. FIT FLOPS®! I really have to say, I love these! They are super durable, soft, thick, and stable... not to mention all the pretty color options and styles! HOWEVER... I have had mine for only a few months and I can already feel them breaking down a little bit so once the season is over, toss them out! I know many people will say, "But Sue! They cost like $60!" Yes, I know they are more expensive than a basic pair of flip flops but really, for the quality of them, it's worth the $$$ later when you don't have back and foot pain by September and have to spend hundreds of dollars coming to see someone like me! This whole claim of the Fit Flop® making your legs work harder and leaning out your legs by walking in them I must admit is just silly. Why would you want your legs to work harder when you walk? Wouldn't you want your legs to work more efficiently? It's an odd claim and I don't agree with it in the slightest so bag the idea that these flops will subsitute for a run around Central Park or a decent leg workout and just think of them as a way to keep your feet in tip-top shape all summer long. They will certainly last you all summer!

NOTE: these flops don't last forever! Just for the summer then toss them out and buy a new pair. Also, make sure you clean the flop after you wear them a bunch of times as the rubbery plastic they are made out of are, as with all flip flops very succeptable to bacterial growth and such that could lead do skin issues like dry heels to warts!

yoga toes2. Yoga Toes®! Now these are my super favorite item. I have bought them about a dozen times, given them to clients many times as a part of their self-treatment regimen. This is a no-brainer. Just put them on your feet, keep your legs elevated a couple inches above your hips (lie down I mean) for about 10 minutes and then take them off!

NOTE: Don't wear them for long periods of time. 10 minutes is plenty. You can do it a couple times a day but after 10 minutes take them off. You are pulling on the fascia between the toes which can certainly help issues like neuromas, toe and foot pain and such but too much pulling can irritate the tissue and dehydrate it so it offer less support later. Too much of a good thing is possible! So just 10 minutes and your feet will feel great!

pedi couture3. The Pedi-Couture™ flip flops! I love these too... but NOT for walking around the city in! Great for use like a slipper or when you are at the spa or poolside this summer. Keeps your toes separated which is great to keep some extra blood flow going to your toes as you chill at the beach! They are totally unsupportive for walking around in though. I can't wait until Fit Flops and Pedi-Couture get together and make a Fit Flop with toe spacers!!! I'd make them if I had the time and $$ for sure!

It's super hot out today in NYC and if it's hot where you are, of course my first question today is... "Did you drink water yet?!" Have a little extra mid-day in between meals rather than with meals and keep your body healthy, active, pain-free and feeling great all day!

Babies and Developmental Phases

It's always such a learning experience being able to work on a baby. In my private practice I see both healthy and not so healthy babies. Sometimes it's a simple issue, acid reflux or tortocolis and sometimes it's a seizure baby or a baby with anomolies that they will work with over their lifetime.

I found a fantastic guy who does work with parents and babies in his practice, Roots and Wings Studio. Dan Rindler combines Feldenkrais Method® with music from around the world.   Parents learn to support their baby's development through touch, movement and music.  Classes are offered for pre-crawlers, crawlers and beginning walkers.  Dan also teaches a popular 4 week "Tummy-Time Solutions™" workshop which has helped countless babies  become comfortable from head to toe in tummy-time!  Classes are held at Symphony Space, Broadway @ 95th Street in NYC! 

Tummy-Time Solutions is also coming to the Prenatal Yoga Center of Manhattan and Birth Day Presence in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Upcoming Classes at Symphony Space:
                  Tuesday May 25th & Thursday May 27th Trial classes for pre-crawlers thru early walkers
                  Tuesday June 1st, 2pm Tummy Time Solutions workshop begins (no trial available for this 4 part workshop)
                  Thursday May 27th,  11am Tummy Time Solutions workshop begins (no trial available for this 4 part workshop)

Trial Class Link
Tummy Time Link

A review from a mom who is a current member of his class:  "I just wanted to report to you on the huge improvement my son has made on his tummy time.  Since yesterday's class, he is able to stay on his tummy for much much longer -- even for 10 min without screaming.  He has also started to look around and reach for toys instead of resting his head on his arms all the time.  I had tried a lot of things to entertain him while he is on his tummy, but nothing worked.  I'm just amazed how things have changed for him after your class. Thanks for the great instruction.  I'm looking forward to the upcoming classes."

About Dan's Method and his use of Feldenkrais:  Babies often take to the Feldenkrais Method more readily than traditional therapies, because it "speaks their language."   It builds on their strengths and is largely pleasurable rather than a constant challenge and reminder of what they can not do.  The Feldenkrais Method differs from most other approaches in that it doesn't deal directly with stretching or strengthening.   Instead, it aims to help babies expand their options for movement by building body awareness (proprioception) and creating the conditions for them to learn coordinated, easy movement.   Rather than looking for babies to simply "make milestones", the Feldenkrais Method looks at the quality of movement and how one transitions from one position to the next.  It is effective for a wide range of issues from well-baby visits, to babies who are late to crawl or walk, as well as those with neurological disorders or other conditions.  Its also popular for adults - many parents begin by bringing their children and begin to try it themselves to solve issues of chronic pain, stress, or to improve performance in athletics or the performing arts. 


So for all my new mom's out there, check him out! Until we can MELT babies, this is the way to go for good development in  a day and age where natural movement is often curbed by products of a modern age...

Personality Disorder

I just got off the phone with my mom. (Notice the title of this blog). After I got off the phone with her my mind went to this idea of "personality disorder". It, like many terms have become so generic it's kind of like the word Yoga when it comes to fitness.

I got this quote from Wikipedia: the American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines it as "an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it"

Holy cow. Maybe I have a personality disorder! I call it creative license, personal belief, worldy belief but hey, why not personality disorder. I mean, I do actually like to read research papers on fasica and the nervous system. I love reading abstracts because it makes a different part of my brain think. It's like knitting. Once you are in the zone, it's almost like meditation.

As many of my readers know, I am about to take a very big step in trying to get the ART AND SCIENCE of SELF-CARE™ out to the world with MELT® in that I have submitted a book proposal out to the world of publishing. In being a creator of a method, I am also a business owner. So again, it's like having a split personality. Although both parts of me are perpetually learning and exploring how to do both better... make better strategies, make better anaologies, in business you have to actually do outrageous things like learn to make invoices, read excel spread sheets, and operate a website store which is soooooo not what I want to be doing with so much of my time! I'd rather be looking at research papers, doing dissections and learning from Gil Hedley and other mentors, and writing about the magical world of fractile chaos within the human body, and spending more time with my MELT community!

So again, I ask you. Do I have a personality disorder? Don't we all??? Time for a good night's sleep and think about that til tomorrow!

Delayed Onset Fascia Soreness?

If you have ever lifted weights, done a bunch of lunges, ran an extra couple miles, or did even a killer yoga class you may have experience what is knows as "delayed onset muscle soreness" 24-48 hours after your workout. A recent research article has some intriguing new ideas as to why we get that soreness. Although we think we feel our sore muscles, what's really causing that fatigue seems to be stemming from fascial breakdown.

The article, "Increased pain from muscle fascia following eccentric exercise: animal and human findings" will potentially stir up some controversy. But before you get crazy over the idea that connective tissue may make you sore after working out, let me say this, "muscle fascia" or "myofascia" is defining the particular tissue that surrounds and is within the muscles. They are one and the same, muscle and it's fascia are truly inseperable. I've done enough dissections to know that particular layer is so inherently linked to itself, it's unlikely if you read the article you will have a hard time arguing what the researchers found.

Just to show you how slow science is, this article was submitted in Nov 2006, was accepted two years later and last year it was finally published. What mechanism and structures play a role in eccentric, exercise-induced muscle soreness a day or two after your workout are not yet clarified. Essentially what the researchers did was inject with a hypertonic saline solution at the fascial level and at the deep muscle levels. The pain intensity was sited far greater in the area of fascia than anywhere else. Although other tests have been done in the past where researchers looked directly at muscle ONLY and shown that there is an adaptable change in the muscle fiber after exercise, you would think that at some point someone would think the stuff surrounding the muscle was relevant. The responsiveness of fascia tissue to hypertonic saline solutions remains relatively unexplored although most therapists and humans who exercise will tell you, fascial tissue is known to be highly sensitive.

Try this, grab what you would think is your trapezius muscle just behind one collarbone, where your shoulder meets your neck. Give that a squeeze. Is it tender? Fascia. I know you would think that is the muscle but again, after doing a lot of disections, that's quite a bunch of connective tissue. For some, it's ALL connective tissue. When I show people how to MELT, even though we use soft rollers for many it is terribly tender and sensitive. It's a wake-up call. If connective tissue is tender, to me, it means it's dehydrated. Dehydrated connective tissue makes the muscles it supports less responsive, less accurate when they contract and ultimately that makes our movements less fluid and seamless. Not great when you are looking to perform at your maximum, lose weight, or just sit at a desk without constantly grabbing your neck due to ache.

So for all of my curious minds, take a look at the article. If your eyes gloss over in the first couple of paragraphs, maybe scroll to the conclusion to get some new ideas. Always, your replies and comments are welcome!

Have a happy day and drink some water all on its own today a couple times! It will make you feel better!

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