Wednesday, August 13, 2014

MELT Method: A great addition to your self-care routine

by Beth Nolte, L.Ac.

One of my very favorite self-treatment modalities is the MELT method. In a nutshell, it involves gentle self-massage with a soft foam roller. It is something of a cousin to the more intense foam rolling you see in gyms and physical therapist offices, but it goes way beyond what is done with standard foam rolling, and with its gentle method is really quite effective. I can’t express enough how much I love MELT and how it has helped me to manage the effects of less-than-optimal posture at work (bending over a massage table) and at play (golf). It doesn’t replace the targeted effects of therapeutic massage I get from my massage therapist, but it is really helpful as a daily maintenance and is one of my favorite additions to my self-care routine.

So since I’m always raving about MELT, for my latest blog post I decided to go straight to the source and do a Q & A with Eugene’s resident MELT instructor, Shannon Hoell. Shannon is a licensed massage therapist and an excellent instructor of MELT. Her classes are enjoyable and therapeutic, and openings in her classes can be hard to come by. If you’re interested in learning more and perhaps joining a class, Shannon’s contact information is at the end of this blog post.

Another way to learn more is from the book MELT Method, a Breakthrough Self-Treatment System by MELT founder, Sue Hitzmann. Official MELT rollers can be purchased directly from Shannon, or through the MELT website, Also, we sell soft foam rollers at Radiant Health Center that are very similar to the ones used in MELT.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the Q&A. (My questions are in italics, Shannon’s responses follow.)

Your website describes MELT as a "neurofascial technique" and that it "brings your body back to a more ideal state by directly enhancing body awareness, rehydrating connective tissue, and quieting the nervous system." Can you describe a little more about that, and how MELT differs from the foam rolling you see people doing in the gym?

The first way MELT is different from the foam rolling you see at the gym is that our rollers are very soft. In MELT we believe you should not cause your body more pain in your quest to get out of pain. So, we do not mash the fascia or try to beat it into submission. MELT is very gentle; we work at the edge of facial restrictions in a very slow, gentle way to try to restore a more fluid state to the tissue, rather than beating it up. MELT is a series of very specific moves that are designed to calm the autonomic nervous system down and hydrate the connective tissue (or fascia). We focus on breathing, learning better body awareness and proper movement techniques. It is not like any other foam rolling class. In fact, even though we use a roller I do not think of it as a foam rolling class or even as exercise. It is self-care; essentially you are learning how to give yourself a massage with a soft roller and small balls.

I love that MELT is a modality to treat the fascia (connective tissue). Recent research points to connective tissue injury and dysfunction as a common cause of chronic pain. What is your take on the connection between the connective tissue and our overall health and wellbeing?

Connective tissue's job is to support, protect and stabilize the muscles, bones, organs and systems in your body. When it is dehydrated, it is unable to provide these structures with optimal support. When the connective tissue is juicy and hydrated, all the organs and systems in your body operate in a more efficient, optimal way. This can lead to less pain, a better functioning immune system, better digestion, more sleep and just overall better health.

You do group MELT classes and also private MELT instruction. What is a MELT class like and how long is each class? How does a one-on-one MELT appointment differ from a regular MELT class?

MELT classes are one hour in duration and generally have 12-16 people. Most people attend class once a week and, when they feel confident with the moves, MELT a little a home as well. In order to participate in group class, people need to be able to easily get down to the floor and up on a roller. If that sounds challenging due to injury, chronic pain or illness, an individual session is best. Individual sessions are slower, I can use modifications as needed, and together we will develop a custom MELT map that will address your specific needs. I expect individual clients to practice moves at home in between sessions so we can add new techniques each time we meet.

How did you discover MELT and what prompted you to become a certified instructor?

A few years ago, my sister Heather was hit by a car. Her long rehabilitative process led to a move to Oregon to be closer to family. When she was well enough to work again, she moved to Portland for her job and joined a gym. At that time, there was only one MELT instructor in Oregon and she happened to work at my sister’s gym. Heather found amazing results with MELTing and encouraged me to come up and try the class since she was aware of my interest in fascia. 20 minutes into my first class I was hooked and knew I had to become an instructor. I have been a massage therapist for the past 12 years and primarily work with people with chronic pain. I knew MELT would be gentle enough for my clients to do and would be an easy way for them to reduce their pain and gain more freedom of movement. Since teaching classes, I have found MELT to offer great benefit to everyone; it is amazing for athletes to aid recovery and avoid injury and helps combat repetitive stress injuries from excessive computer work. Everyone can MELT and all bodies can benefit from more hydrated tissue. I have completed 3 levels of MELT certification to become an Advanced MELT Instructor and I also have assisted the creator of MELT, Sue Hitzmann, in advanced trainings for other instructors. I am passionate about this method and continually amazed by the results it produces.

What is your current MELT class schedule and how can people get in touch with you if they are interested in trying out MELT?

If you are interested in trying out a MELT class, check out the class schedule at Find a class time that works for you and send me an email ( to let me know you would like to come. If your desired class has space you can get started right away; if not I will put your name on the waiting list and get you in as soon as possible. I do have a new class starting on Thursdays at 12:15pm (beginning Thurs. Sept. 11) and there currently are a few openings in that class.

There are two types of MELT classes: regular MELT and MELT Strength. People who are new to MELT would definitely want to start with regular MELT as the Strength curriculum builds upon regular MELT moves.

More information can be found at Shannon’s website:

Additional information is at the official MELT website:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chinese Medicine Advice for Eating Well

by Beth Nolte, L.Ac.

To anyone familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is probably no surprise that Chinese Medicine has detailed advice on how to eat well. It is characteristic of TCM to view the body as one inter-connected whole, with no part of the body, mind, emotions or spirit being separate. So when we talk about eating well, we're talking about way more than just the specific food we choose.

According to the TCM model of physiology, the power and processes we use to digest and assimilate food are the same power and processes we use for digesting and assimilating ideas, emotions and life experiences. If we misuse or over-use our power in one aspect of digestion and assimilation, it will ultimately come to affect them all. 

The strength of Chinese Medicine is in identifying and treating minor imbalances while they are still minor. We hope not to wait until imbalances become pathology before we intervene. Our goal is optimal functioning of body-mind-spirit on all levels, and we strive for this balance to encourage and preserve our health and vitality. Strong function of digestion and assimilation is considered to be the center, a core foundation, of optimal health, and a primary area to look at when we want to improve any aspect of our health.

So, with these goals in mind, what are the top three recommendations for eating well?

#1 – Don’t read and eat at the same time. We use the same reservoir of energy to digest and assimilate food as we do to digest and assimilate information. When we read and eat at the same time, there is less power available to each process. Digestion and assimilation of our food becomes less optimal. This also goes for eating while having intense conversations, while problem-solving or multi-tasking. The optimal way to preserve the power and balance that we have, and to build more through proper nutrition, is to keep our meal time separate from our work time.

#2 – Eat with joy and a positive attitude. In the Chinese model of physiology, to ensure proper digestion and assimilation, we need our Qi and blood to be free-flowing. The free-flowing of Qi and blood is another cornerstone of our health in TCM theory, and is strongly affected by our emotions and state of mind. Joy and positive thinking encourage open and free movement of our Qi and blood; stress, worry and anger create tightness, stagnation and hypofunction of the digestive system. When eating, it’s important to relax, let go of worries and stresses. Encourage a positive expectation that this food will nourish your body, whether it’s a healthy, balanced meal or a comfort-food indulgence. No matter what you’re eating, simply eat with joy.

#3 – Eat food that is easily digested, to preserve our “digestive fire”. Chinese Medicine has very clear instruction, based on thousands of years of evidence, of what food will encourage our body’s strong digestive function, and what will hamper it. Foods that are difficult to digest can, over time, weaken digestive function, ultimately weakening the rest of the body. According to TCM recommendations, the most easily digested foods are cooked and served warm or room-temperature. They are light in dairy and oil, and include a wide variety of whole foods, especially vegetables and grains. Food that is difficult to digest, and therefore can end up weakening our digestive fire are: cold food (chilled food, ice cream, iced drinks), raw food (raw veggies, salads), fried food, too much meat/not enough vegetables, excess drink with meals (especially water), and too much food in general. In the summer, these are the foods we may gravitate to, but we are well-advised to be moderate when we do indulge.

So, what is the take-home message?

Eating lightly (in food and attitude) is the foundation of a healing lifestyle!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Healing is a lifestyle

by Beth Nolte, L.Ac.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.  –Aristotle

No matter the specifics of our healing journey, whether working to heal a physical condition, old patterns that no longer serve us, or a trauma that we have experienced, we often hear an inner voice telling us that some part of our life is out of balance. That voice is our intuition, our body wisdom, sending us a message about what we can do to support and further the healing process. However, making changes can seem daunting, and we often procrastinate doing those things we know we really should do.

The good news is that change doesn’t have to be drastic to promote healing – in fact, even small adjustments to our daily life can have a huge impact. Rather than making sweeping changes to our diet or exercise program, just a few healthy choices, made repeatedly and consistently, can create a truly healing lifestyle.

So what are the things your intuition is urging you to do? It might be…

Exercise & Go outside ~  Did you know that 10 minutes of exercise per day has been shown to improve cardiovascular and heart function and overall health? If you haven’t been exercising regularly, 10 minutes per day is the perfect way to begin: there will be noticeable improvements in energy levels, sleep, cognitive function and mood, with a minimal risk of injury. If you're ready for more, exercising vigorously for 40 minute workouts, 3 times per week confers additional benefits for blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

You don’t need exercise equipment or an established program to get started. Walking for 10 minutes and a few basic stretches is an easy way to achieve balanced exercise for the whole body. YouTube is a great resource for free instruction with videos of many different exercise programs. There are phone apps as well that can help you get started. Also, many at-home exercise programs include 10 minute options, such as Yoga Tune-up’s At Home DVD program, and Barre3’s online workouts

In addition to exercise as part of a healing lifestyle, research shows that spending time outside in natural light promotes feelings of happiness and well-being, improves concentration and also speeds the healing process. Best of all, you can combine outdoor time with exercise by taking a walk around the neighborhood or through a park. It’s truly good for body, mind and soul.

Express your creativity ~  The creative force is an important part of being human, and studies show that it benefits our health when we explore it. In The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health, researchers examined over 100 studies and concluded that engaging in creative art (painting, writing, dance, music, and more) improves immune function, reduces stress, anxiety and depression, promotes feelings of well-being, flow and spontaneity, and improves medical outcomes.

If you haven’t explored your creative side recently, pick up an old hobby or try something new: make a collage of pictures that inspire you, use a camera or your cell phone to document your life, spend some time journaling, or express life's frustrations and joys with some paint or modeling clay. Whether you create something simple or complex, expressing yourself creatively can be profoundly healing.

Massage therapy ~  Massage therapy  is an integral part of the healing process for many conditions. The professional massage therapists at Radiant Health Center are skilled at identifying and treating areas of muscular tightness, structural imbalance and fascial restriction. Massage improves blood and lymph circulation, promotes hydration of muscles and fascia, breaks up adhesions/scar tissue, reduces pain and tightness, and improves structural (and postural) balance. Through these actions, massage therapy can help each of your body systems function more efficiently. And it feels great too!

Self-massage strategies ~  Between professional bodywork treatments, it can be helpful to do regular self-massage with foam rollers, therapy balls and other tools. Some areas of tightness and adhesion make significant progress with gentle manual therapy on a regular basis. It can be especially helpful after exercise and in times of increased soreness and pain to treat yourself daily. Here at Radiant Health Center, we LOVE self-treatment with rollers and therapy balls. We’re working on a series of how-to videos on self-massage and stretching strategies, so stay tuned to our blog and YouTube channel for more on these topics.

Acupuncture ~ According to traditional Chinese medical theory, the body, mind and emotions are one interconnected whole with each part affecting the others. An imbalance that develops in one aspect of our physiology will cascade across body systems in ways that are predictable, and in patterns that have been studied for thousands of years. This system views the body as having pathways of communication (meridians and acupuncture points) that can be stimulated to create specific effects in the body, mind and emotions.

Modern research shows that acupuncture reduces pain and inflammation locally and also along neuromuscular pathways (i.e., not locally, but in an area that is connected through the fascia). It stimulates immune response, vasodilation and blood circulation in targeted areas. It can be used to release tight muscles and reduce stress. And, studies show that acupuncture communicates through the nervous system, sending signals to the brain, causing numerous changes such as the release of endorphins, stimulation of the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system, changes in perception of pain, and more. Acupuncture is gentle yet powerful medicine and can be used successfully for many different conditions, such as pain, inflammation, injury, allergies and other immune issues, digestion, reproductive issues, and more.

Food & nutrition  ~  This area of our lives can get compromised during times of  tight finances or a busy schedule, but even small changes are often all that is needed to promote healing. Listen within: what is one change you know you should make? Do you eat a healthy breakfast? Should you eat more vegetables or more protein? Should you eat fewer sweets or less processed food? Do you have patterns of addiction that need to be addressed?

If you find resistance coming up within, just make one simple change, perhaps adding healthy snacks to your daily routine, like raw veggies, nuts and fruit. Do that every day and you are promoting healthy nutrition and a healing lifestyle.

If you are interested in a more thorough assessment, our nutritionist, Ellen Syversen, offers clients holistic nutrition counseling, therapy and education with the goal of correcting imbalances in body chemistry, and achieving optimal wellness naturally. Some of her areas of expertise include chronic fatigue, food sensitivities, pre-pregnancy optimization, hormonal balance through diet, digestive problems, blood sugar issues, childhood nutrition and weight management. Ellen loves to practice what she preaches, and enjoys getting people excited about expanding their food horizons and using natural supplements to restore health and wellness.

Get some alone time, and moments of silence  ~  Modern life is abundant in fast-paced, high stress activities. To support our ability to be dynamic and take action, we need to nourish the other side of the coin as well: silence, rest and some time alone. The Chinese tai ji (yin-yang) symbol demonstrates this“Activity and stillness alternate; each is the basis of the other.” We need both action and rest, movement and stillness, communication and silence. With all the demands of modern life and of family, it can be a challenge to take time out just for ourselves, but for many of us it can be a very important addition to our life.

Give back to the community  ~  It takes a village, as the saying goes, and we are truly, at a deep level, interdependent. Repeated studies show that helping others makes us happier and also promotes healing in ourselves. It is also found that witnessing others’ difficulties can put our own troubles into perspective, and reduce our feelings of anxiety and depression. Even a small amount of time each month dedicated to helping others can be deeply healing for ourselves.

So, what is your inner voice urging you to do?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Surprising Heart Health Tips

by Ellen Syversen, MPH, CHES, NTP

February is Heart Health month. As the nutritionist for Radiant Health Center, I wanted to share 5 heart health tips that go beyond the standard fare.

1. New research shows a strong relationship between heart disease and Vitamin D deficiency. Get your Vitamin D levels tested.
2. The heart needs energy, and the mineral magnesium is essential for energy producing reactions in the body. Eighty percent of Americans are magnesium deficient so we need to supplement with this mineral or eat more magnesium rich foods like brown rice, leafy greens and lentils.
3. Dehydration causes the vascular system to selectively close some of its vessels which can lead to high blood pressure. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day and cut back on caffeine and sugary drinks as they are dehydrating.
4. We all need to manage our blood sugar with a balanced diet. High insulin and blood sugar are damaging to our heart. A balanced, whole foods diet containing healthy fats, protein and lots of vegetables is a great way to keep your blood sugar stable and protect your heart.
5. The nutrient CoQ10 is needed for heart health and is depleted by statin drugs. If you are taking this medication, please consider supplementing with this important nutrient.

Contact Ellen Syversen for more information and to schedule a free, hour long, no obligation initial consultation. I can be reached at 541-912-8624 or You can also come visit me at

Friday, January 10, 2014

Interested in Infra-red Sauna?  Wondering what it is?

Infra-red Sauna is an excellent way to relax and detoxify your body.  These saunas are unique and may be different than others you have experienced in the past.  Infra-red heat works much like the sun, heating objects or bodies in its direct path and has a lesser effect on surrounding air.  So the air inside will not feel stifling, but your core will heat up and your skin will still sweat.  Infra-red heat is not Ultra-violet radiation but a narrow band of energy between 5.6 to 15 microns, which is the most therapeutic to the human body.   It mimics the spectrum of sunlight, but without harmful solar radiation.  As your body increases sweat production to cool itself, your heart works harder pumping more blood, achieving the conditioning benefits of continuous exercise. By widening your blood vessels and enriching your blood with oxygen you feel more energetic and your skin gets a beautiful, youthful glow.  We also have provided a cold outdoor shower, to rinse toxins and sweat from your skin and send all the warmth deeper into your core.
Welcome to our new blog from the Radiant Health Center in Eugene, Oregon!  Stay tuned for articles about posture, alignment and self care.  We are also working on some exciting instructional videos with wood and foam rollers!