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, www.meltmethod.com. 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 www.eugenemeltandmassage.com. Find a class time that works for you and send me an email (email@example.com) 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: www.eugenemeltandmassage.com.
Additional information is at the official MELT website: www.meltmethod.com.