Well, I’m sure you know the path to wellness integrates many more aspects in life, but arguably the health of your fascia, also known as connective tissue, in addition to hydration should be at the top of your list. In a previous blog, entitled Fascia 101 – the Glue that Holds Us Together, we covered some basic aspects about fascia (worthy of a re-read, if I do say so myself, hint-hint).
Since the time of that post, I dove a little deeper, eager to learn more about addressing restrictions in the body, and in that journey, I discovered the MELT Method. I was so keen on what I found with MELT that after completing Hand & Foot Instructor Training, I decided to go for the Full Instructor training, which I completed in June.
MELT stands for Myofascial Energetic Lengthening Technique. Sue Hitzmann, creator of the MELT Method calls it a simple, self-treatment technique to help you stay pain free for life. Truth is there is more than a decade of complex science and research that she pursued as she designed her streamlined method. Without going deep into molecular biology though, I do want to break down the basics on why you’ll want to start taking much better care of this major stuff we’re made of – connective tissue.
Let me start by explaining the “old view.” In the past, anatomists wanted to categorize the body, and dissected it without any attention to that layer just beneath the skin. It was viewed as nothing more than ‘packing material.’ So the focus from that point on historically established that posture and movement, viewed from the inside-out, is primarily a matter of muscle and bones. Now, thanks to the level of technology available, we can turn the model to a new view – from the outside-in. Experts in the field of fascia such as Tom Myers, Robert Schleip and Mark Lindsay among many others have contributed to this vibrantly growing knowledge base, revealing that connective tissue is far more than ‘packing material.’
In this short YouTube video, you get a chance to see the microscopic hydrated fascia filaments as captured by a high-powered camera: Fascia and Structural Integration with Robert Schleip (2:39). In the video, Schleip says this about connective tissue:
“It plays a crucial role in muscular force transmission, it is a sensory organ. Actually our richest and most important in terms of body perception. And thus it can even lead to bodily dysfunction and chronic pain.”
The Ouside In
With this new understanding, we can think about the body in a dramatically different way. Instead of thinking of bones, and then layering on to that the ligaments, tendons and muscles and so on until we come to the skin; what if you started with the notion that your connective tissue as an aqueous ‘outer’ casing is your form, into which bones, muscles, heart, lungs, etc. are embedded? That the integral aspect of your structure surrounds those internal parts, rather than ‘hanging off of them’? That all of it is suspended – supported and protected, inside the connective tissue system – the primary thing that actually stabilizes you?
Realizing that this system is rich with billions of receptors has brought about a new term: the Neurofascial system as Hitzmann defines it. That means that connective tissue not only creates stability, it’s also a critical body-wide communication system.
The key is, that communication and stability system works at optimal efficiency
when the tissue is hydrated.
So, this new view on human anatomy requires a different approach for care. And, oh yes, drinking water, while important, is itself not enough to address hydrating the system at the cellular level.
MELT your Stuck Stress
In the Fascia 101 blog, we talked about how repetitive motions or postures can cause stress to the system, and ultimately dehydrates the tissue. Dehydrated tissue loses its glide, its quality of support and inhibits efficient muscle firing. Honestly, everything we do in day-to-day living causes dehydration at the cellular level. If not fully addressed, over time that accumulates – in MELT, we refer to that accumulated dehydration as “stuck stress.”
Accumulated stuck stress reveals itself as small aches and pains. And then continues to develop into chronic inflammation, breaking down the immune system, opening the door for a host of other issues or disease to settle into the body. Yikes!
But the good news is that you can proactively address stuck stress. This is exactly what MELT was designed to do. There’s no question that hydration is part of the key. But think of your fascia like a sponge. When hydrated it’s resilient and springy and can easily absorb water. Now picture a smashed, deformed dried out sponge – this is fascia with accumulated stress – you can pour water over it, but the majority of it rolls off the surface. In that state, it hardly absorbs anything, whatever abundance of hydration has been provided. That is, until you activate the sponge’s integrity by gently softening its state, so that it can go back to efficiently soaking in fluids.
“You can’t be efficiently mobile if you are inefficiently stable.”
– Sue Hitzmann
The simple techniques and approaches used in the MELT Method help you first assess your status and then restore the tissues for hydration at the cellular level. I have been witness to several cases of as little as 1 minute of MELT alleviating pain or asymmetry. Whether or not you suffer from some chronic pain it will improve performance of sport, fitness and your daily movement patterns. Like with Pilates, a regular practice helps you develop a positive internal environment for your body to thrive. And with that, you are well on the path ☺
See you in the studio!