Relief From Chronic Pain and Headaches with Sue Hitzmann [Episode #393]
Welcome to the Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder. Our goal is to help you be your most healthy, confident, beautiful and joyful! Our topics focus on health and wellness (physical, emotional/mental and spiritual), holistic nutrition, medicinal plants, natural rhythms and cycles, beauty, meditation, self care and rituals, spirituality and personal empowerment.
Feeling Good means we are healthy, balanced, peaceful, confident and joyful, right in the midst of our perfectly imperfect lives. Feeling Good requires us to tune in and nourish our whole selves, which is made up of the four Solluna Cornerstones: our food, our bodies, our emotional well-being and our spiritual growth. Feeling good naturally leads to also looking good, in a much more powerful way from glowing skin created from within, a beautifully healthy body, radiant energy, and a greater level of overall well-being and personal growth.
Every week, we provide you with interviews with top experts in their field to support you in living your most beautiful, inspired and joyful life, with a focus on physical health, wellness, meditation and spirituality and personal empowerment.
I’m your host, Kimberly Snyder, founder of Solluna, New York Times best-selling author and nutritionist. I’m so grateful and honored we found each other!
I am so excited to have a very special guest, Sue Hitzmann, who is a bestselling author, nationally recognized educator, manual therapist, exercise physiologist, and creator of the MELT Method®, a simple self-treatment technique that helps people get out and stay out of chronic pain. Listen in as Sue shares her personal journey into the awareness of fascia and how her MELT technique can bring relief from chronic pain and headaches.
Sue shares how she got into this issue of chronic pain, and how common it really is…
We discuss some of the reasons so many people are in pain, and why we’re only hearing about fascia in the past two years…
How to find relief and take care of fascia…
If stretching benefits pain from fascia…
Tips on equipment versus manual compression for optimal benefit…
Whether the pain from fascia can be reversed, and how…
How often to implement the MELT practice to maintain relief from pain…
Simple tips to help when dealing with headaches…
Why manual stimulation that MELT is based on is necessary for relief…
The Beauty of MELT…
About Sue Hitzmann
Sue is the creator of the MELT Method®, a simple self-treatment technique that helps people get out and stay out of chronic pain. A nationally recognized educator, manual therapist, exercise physiologist, and founding member of the Fascia Research Society, Sue is the author of the New York Times bestselling book The MELT Method, which has helped over 200,000 people lead a healthy, pain-free life.
Sue’s interest in manual therapy began with her quest to find answers to her own debilitating pain, which served as the foundation for the MELT Method®. Since 1998, Sue has had a private manual therapy practice, working with clients who suffer from a wide range of issues, injuries, disorders, diseases, and dysfunctions.
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!
There are lots of ways to share your responses or questions about the podcast:
You may be really intrigued by podcasts, but you may just know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, I promise! To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s way better to subscribe so you never miss an episode!
Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the “Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder”? My passion is to inspire and empower you to be your most authentic and beautiful self. We offer interviews with top experts, my personal philosophies and experiences, as well as answers to community-based questions around topics such as health, beauty, nutrition, yoga, spirituality and personal growth.
The intention of the Feel Good Podcast is to well…help you really Feel Good in your body, mind and spirit! Feeling Good means feeling peaceful, energized, whole, uniquely beautiful, confident and joyful, right in the midst of your perfectly imperfect life. This podcast is as informative and full of practical tips and take-aways as it is inspirational. I am here to support you in being your very best! I have so much love and gratitude for you. Thank you for tuning in and being part of the community :).
LEAVE A REVIEW ON ITUNES
Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material they are interested in! If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us arating or review. Many thanks in advance.
Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate. This is due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Kimberly Snyder: Hey Beauties, welcome back to our Monday interview podcast and I am so excited to have Sue Hitzmann with us today. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the MELT Method which is a book about a self treatment technique that helps people get out and stay out of chronic pain which unfortunately is super common, as we all know, and a lot of us suffer from pain.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly Snyder: Super excited to get into this today with Sue. But before we dive in, let’s just give a quick shout out to our fan of the week, her name is Kari N. Femme and she writes, “Kimberly, I found your podcast a few months ago when I was really trying to lost those extra pounds of baby weight after nursing and getting up so inside my head and beating myself up. Your words, your tone and your topics really speak to me. You gave me permission to eat more healthfully and to get in touch with my emotions. I really like how you are also a mom and love hearing your little one in the background. You are a beautiful light and my go to podcast for feeling uplifted. Thank you so much for everything you do.”
Kimberly Snyder: Kari N. Femme, thank you so much for being our fan of the week. I’m super grateful for you, for us being connected, for your review. Thank you, thank you, thank you and sending you a big virtual hug.
Share The Podcast
Kimberly Snyder: And Beauties, for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week, please just go over to iTunes, take two minutes out of your day and leave us a review. So much gratitude in advance because it’s an amazing way to help spread the show and to help others find this information which can really benefit them and their lives. Thank you again in advance. You can also share the show on SoundCloud, iTunes, wherever you listen to our Feel Good podcast. There’s a share button and you can share it with friends, family, loved ones, whoever you think might benefit.
Interview withSue Hitzmann
Kimberly Snyder: All right, all of that being said, let’s get into our interview today with the amazing Sue Hitzmann.
Kimberly Snyder: Sue, thank you so much for joining us today.
Sue Hitzmann: Thank you Kimberly. I’m so happy to be on your podcast.
Why Sue Was Drawn to the Issue of Chronic Pain
Kimberly Snyder: First of all, this whole issue of chronic pain seems to be really widespread and growing. We know that inflammation is growing, a chronic low grade inflammation, can you give us a little information about how you were drawn to this path? What was it clients you were working with? Why you got into this issue of chronic pain? And a little bit about how common it really is. How many people are living with this?
Sue Hitzmann: Yeah, well first of all, a 100 million Americans are suffering with chronic pain and we all know, opioid addiction is just so vast and such a troublesome component of people’s lives and around the world, everything from migraines to back pain. It affects anybody at any age. Pain is just not selective. I think a lot of people think that pain is kind of something that happens to people who are old or people who are out of shape but I would say lots of people eat right, they exercise, they believe that they’re doing all the right things but in fact, they too are suffering with chronic pain. In fact, it’s a dirty little secret of fitness is most of the fitness professionals and the people who engage in an active lifestyle, manage chronic pain and actually poor health. 80% of orthopedic injuries are actually exercise induced. There’s a lot of eating disorders in fitness. Just exercising is not the recipe for longevity and for leading a resilient, healthy life and really sustaining a good health span.
Sue Hitzmann: What got me into this is I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than half my life, well over more than half my life. I actually got into the fitness industry when I was 16 with jazzercise. I’ve been in this for a long time. I got into it because of wanting to age well. I actually at a young age kind of understood aging as not being a great thing and when I was young, Jack Lalanne and Jane Fonda were really the epitome of health and so that was fitness and I got into it.
Sue Hitzmann: And then in my late 20s, after having a Masters in physiology and anatomy and thinking I was so smart with fitness and working on all of these elite athletes and getting them out of some injury and getting them back out on the field faster, I got myself into a state of chronic pain and none of the stuff that I knew fixed that because it wasn’t from an injury. I hadn’t hurt myself, I woke up with it and it lingered and got worse and sort of sent me down a road to not just understanding what causes pain but more importantly what causes pain to become chronic and what’s a resolution? What’s an easy way to help people get out of it?
Why So Many People Are In Pain
Kimberly Snyder: It’s interesting you mentioned the fitness industry and of course if someone’s training for something and their exercise regime is pretty intense, it seems somewhat maybe not normal, but common for them to get sore or to have some pain. I’m not saying it’s a good thing but that seems to make more sense. Why do you think it’s, you mentioned a 100 million Americans and the first thing I think of is inflammation. What are some of the reasons you think so many people are in pain? Do you think it’s the way that we’re sitting? Do you think that just stress is taking a toll? Or misalignment with the way they’re exercising? What do you think it is? Or some of the factors.
Sue Hitzmann: I think what people need to know is that your brain is what’s producing pain and it’s kind of like your built in internal alarm system. The problem is, if you think about it, when your fire alarm goes off or smoke alarm goes off, your toaster’s on fire and your smoke alarm goes off, a lot of people kind of walk over to the fire alarm and take the batteries out but the toaster’s still on fire.
Sue Hitzmann: The thing is, if pain is chronic, you have an issue in your connective tissue. It’s your fascia plays such a significant role in pain becoming chronic and the problem is, diet and exercise don’t really address the aspects, the stiff to elastic properties of fascia and in fact, exercising too much without restoration can cause pain just as much as sitting and being inactive.
Sue Hitzmann: One of philosophies of the MELT Method is to tell people, if you understand fascia and understand its role in your overall function on every level of stability because it is the stability.
Sue Hitzmann: Connective tissue, fascia, is the supportive infrastructure under your skin. It’s actually the system of your body that stabilized everything. What people need to realize is that it’s actually a very renewable resource and knowing how to restore the supportive qualities of fascia is something that even people who are active need to understand how to do and one of the philosophies of the MELT Method is to prepare, perform, restore and repeat because if you don’t prepare the tissue and your joints properly and you don’t restore this supportive qualities of fascia, after a while, you’re going to spend a lot of time repairing your body and recovering from injuries.
Sue Hitzmann: The idea here is that there’s a just a little bit missing in our philosophy and our understanding of performance and sustaining the longevity of performance. I always say, you never really hear of people getting a hamstring replacement but you certainly hear of people getting hip and knee replacements.
Sue Hitzmann: Really understanding how to keep your joint stable and why that’s so critical for your nervous system’s functionality and keeping your nervous system functioning efficiently is really what MELT’s all about. Is partly education and then application of self care.
The Buzz on Fascia
Kimberly Snyder: Sue, we do hear about our bones, we do hear about our joints and I feel like I’ve heard a lot of buzz lately, the last two years let’s say, about fascia. We had someone on here, Garry Lineham from the Human Garage, talk a little bit about fascia a couple months ago. Is it, scientists have known about fascia for a while but a lot of us didn’t really hear about it that much. Why is that? Why is it not talked about or taught as much as let’s say the nervous system or blood vessels or muscles? Why is it this secret, quote unquote?
Sue Hitzmann: Well it’s not that it’s a secret. You’re right, research has been going on about connective tissue for quite a period of time but what has really allowed and I’m a founding member of the Fascial Research Society and there wasn’t really a community, a fascia congress of researchers trying to move the kind of push the button on getting us over and getting more people to understand connective tissue. But now we’re using atomic force microscopy and these high powered lasers to look at the deepest aspects of our connective tissue which is really helping the oncology regions of education of understanding cancer and cancer metastasis. Really the research was going more toward illness and disease and when I started getting into understand connective tissue back in the late 90s, you’re right fascia wasn’t fashionable when I started talking about fascia in the fitness industry either.
Sue Hitzmann: It took a lot of years to really simplify the science because cellular science is super complex. It’s hard to talk about glycoaminoglycans, proteoglycans and what’s collagen and things like that because even with fitness, we really don’t talk about the nervous system as much as I think people think we do but really most fitness professionals don’t really know about how the nervous system operates or what autonomic function is. With fascia, it’s people like me who are into science and I’m a geek on science and I love understanding the inner workings of the human body. After I had been working on bodies for a decade, and really seeing these massive results and developing MELT and giving us this homework.
Sue Hitzmann: In 2010 I was like, I’m going to write a book so I can get this out to the general public. I’m going to pioneer a force in fitness and get people to realize recovery is important and fascia is really a component that fitness is not addressing. And when that book came out, it got on the New York Times bestsellers list. It really, it affected people. I got on the Dr. Oz Show. I got to show what human fascia was and why it was relevant and today, everybody’s a myofascial expert. Everybody’s talking about fascia. You hear it everywhere but it’s do we really understand that connective tissue plays a significant role, not just in our muscles, the myofascia but to our lymphatic system which is a part of our immune system and the fluid in fascia, beyond the collagen being supportive, the fluid in fascia called interstitial fluids are being driven toward the lymph system and channeled through the lymph and is one of the things that is kind of a conduit are these pre-lymphatic channels, driving the interstitial fluid into fascia. That is part of what keeps us healthy.
Sue Hitzmann: Fascia’s playing a role in our immune function and of course with the microbiomes in our digestive system, all of these factors play a role in immunity. Way beyond the fitness industry, fascia’s playing a role in the stability of every aspect of our body. Emotional, chemical, physiological, structural, everything relies on fascia because it is the environment that all of our systems live in and rely on the function efficiently.
How To Find Relief From the Pain of Fascia
Kimberly Snyder: What are some tips? What is something we can do with this information that can actually be applicable to our lives? How do we take care of our fascia? Whether it’s, I get hip pain from time to time just from yoga and walking on the beach on the day. Some people may have chronic back pain. I know you mentioned some people have migraines. For all this wide range of chronic pain and discomfort that we feel, what are some things that we can do?
Sue Hitzmann: First, here’s the secret of fluid intake. It is not the volume of fluid that people get wrong, what it is is the consistency of water intake. I’ll give you an example. If you take a liter of water, you would be better off sipping one or two sips every 15 minutes, four times in an hour just sipping a little bit of water and making a liter of water last for three hours rather than doing what most people do. They drink a bunch of water in the morning, they take their pills, they take their medicine, whatever it is but then they don’t drink for three hours. It’s not the volume, it’s the consistency. Consistent fluid intake’s super important for fascia.
Sue Hitzmann: The second thing is, learning to identify what I call pre-pain signals. If you’re somebody who you’re sitting at your desk for a couple hours and get up and you feel like you aged 20 years because your joints aren’t moving as well as they did when you sat down, you don’t call that pain because you get up and you move around and that stiff feeling goes away but that’s a pre-pain signal. That’s your body saying, “Hey my joints are losing some of that fluid flow and I need more movement. I need more support.” If you’re somebody who sits for a period of time, every 15 to 20 minutes, just stand up and take a nice big breath in and then sit yourself back down. You don’t need to make it an event but just get up off your chair a little more often because that will help that stiffening that occurs in fascia.
Sue Hitzmann: And then the other thing is, what MELT is is this gentle compression and lengthening technique, a very mindful based practice to do a number of things. And one of the main things is to restore the supportive qualities of fascia from day to day through gentle compression and tension techniques to do one thing in particular which is restore neurological efficiency. What I mean by that is to support the healing components of our autonomic functions that we kind of take for granted. You know what I mean?
Kimberly Snyder: For sure.
Sue Hitzmann: We tend to think we’re very proactive. I look at your image and your whole message with Feel Good. I’m assuming that from what you look like, you’re eating a good diet, you’re taking care of yourself, we’re doing those things but and we believe that those things are proactive. We’re doing things in some ways, to prevent something but most often when it comes to pain, we’re very reactive to it. We do it after we have it. We don’t actually do things with this idea that I can actually prevent joint problems, digestive issues, by kind of combating it through a component of our body that’s actually very reliant on functioning well. Again, that’s what fascia is. Fascia is the supportive infrastructure that will help to support your digestive system, your behavior of sleep, your movement and how your nervous system operates. It is all inherently linked because again, connective tissue is a three dimensional system that is connected to everything.
Sue Hitzmann: Learning how to harness it and support it, is just another small thing to add to any healthy living to really make that solid impact to be more proactive rather than reactive to pain problems.
Does Stretching Benefit Fascia?
Kimberly Snyder: And Sue, let’s say we do workout in my case, I go on a five mile beach walk in the morning and I come in, I don’t stretch usually to be honest because my son is just waking up so then I’m with him. When we stretch and it feels like we are stretching our muscles, is that also benefiting our fascia? Is that a simple thing we can do to prevent pain? Or is separate to your techniques? What you’re talking about here.
Sue Hitzmann: Muscle and fascia are completely inseparable. Actually fascia infuses through it. Even doing just a little bit of deep breathing in the morning. Maybe doing reaching overhead, doing some side bends, those are all great things to do. What I would tell us is if somebody said to me, “Sue, I want to go out for a five mile walk and I only have three to five minutes to do something that would aid in my five mile walk gaining me benefit and reducing any maybe negative effects of that long distance of walking.” I would tell you to MELT your feet. And again, if you don’t have the MELT products, just take a soft ball like a small, not very big, a little, a paddle ball sized ball. Not even something around the size of a golf ball but soft. Something that’s got a lot of give to it and massage the bottom of the feet.
Sue Hitzmann: I don’t think people realize but our hands and feet are the gateway to the world. There are billions of little sensory receptors living our hands and feet so we might as well stimulate them from day to day. Stimulate those cells, stimulate those cell receptors and get our nervous system to really identify where our center of gravity is so that when we move our joints are functioning with a little bit more interplay, a little bit more continuity and our movements are easier.
Sue Hitzmann: And then of course when we come back from a long walk or a run, spending five or 10 minutes just working on our hips, our upper back, again, soft compression, stimulating that tissue right along where we have a lot of sensory receptors. You’ve got a lot of them around your spine and your pelvis so those are great ways to again, prepare and restore yourself for whatever your performance is.
Equipment vs Manual Compression
Kimberly Snyder: When you say work on yourself you mentioned a ball. Are you talking also about those foam rollers? Do we need equipment besides just manual compression? Our hands are getting a massage for optimal benefit?
Sue Hitzmann: Doing a little bit of self care from day to day is really what it takes. If you’ve got a lot of time and a lot of money where you could go and get a little bit of body work every day from somebody, I would say great. But who’s got time. You’ve got kids, you’ve got a job, we’ve got stuff to do. We don’t have time to be, it’s luxurious to some people to do things like that. Just yeah, we use soft balls and soft rollers. We take a much more gentle approach.
Sue Hitzmann: Something that’s really and again, I think MELT helped to popularize foam rolling but I always say, MELT’s not really a foam rolling technique. We use a roller but it’s not like other rollers. It’s a little smaller, it’s a little softer and this idea that with self myofascial release, you should just iron yourself like a shirt and when you find something sensitive, land on it, dig it out like you’ll win an award for inflicting pain on your body doesn’t really seem like the most mindful way to care for ourselves.
Sue Hitzmann: I think if I had to tell what is something that’s missing is truly awareness is really becoming more aware of common imbalances, little subtle mishaps that are going on in the body before they actually accumulate and cause pain because that’s what stress does, is it accumulates in the body. Connective tissue, what we call cellular dehydration accumulates. If you think of connective tissue like a fluid based river, daily living’s kind of putting sediment down in your river’s flow and your nervous system doesn’t go, “Pfft, I’m not working today.” It just compensates to kind of get around those roadblocks that that sediment creates but that’s where compensation starts to build.
Sue Hitzmann: Once you’re in a compensating state of mobility, most people don’t know that they’re compensating, that they have common imbalances and that’s what accumulates and then it causes problems. You get a stress injury, your back always bothers you, you feel like your knee is kind of funny. If you’re like a lot of people and you ignore it or you pop an Advil, figuring I’ll just take some inflammation out with a medication, I really say, “You’re causing your nervous system more distress because you’re kind of interfering with your body’ alert system and healing process.”
Sue Hitzmann: Again, what’s unique about MELT is it’s a very mindful practice to hone in on connective tissue issues specifically and then worry about all the other stuff. Great way to prepare and restore your body so that again you can, you could then do yoga. It helps with Pilates. You’ll get more precision, more performance. Running, walking, doesn’t matter what movement concept or base practice you like to do, understanding that fascia is a system in and of itself and that you can harness the one thing that’s its role is to do is to support, protect and stabilize you, if you can harness its ability to do that, you’re going to feel good more often.
Sue Hitzmann: I’m almost 50 and I feel better at 50 than I did at 20. When I was walking around with chronic pain, I was fit. I made the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine. I had a bootcamp video. I was the epitome of sick body. I was ripped and super muscular but I was in pain. My body ached all the time and there still this philosophy, no pain, no gain in fitness. We don’t need to be in pain to feel good. We don’t need to hurt all the time and be fit. There’s is a middle ground and I think again, I think it’s awareness that we need to build.
Can the Pain From Fascia Be Reversed and How
Kimberly Snyder: Do you think if someone, anyone listening to this that is in chronic pain and maybe has not listened to their body for years, long time, do you feel like the fascia giving some love, learning these techniques, it does start to unlock, it does start to, it get renourished? Each of it our body no matter what we’ve done. I’m sure there is some limits but for the vast majority of people it can actually, the pain can be reversed.
Sue Hitzmann: It absolutely can. That’s just it. My practice went from working on elite athletes who had joint injuries and when 2001 happened, I live in New York City and 9/11 hit and I got the rude awakening of what post traumatic stress disorder was and from that I started working on people who had fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, MS, lupus, Parkinson’s, all of these real systemic disorders and watched them get better. And that to me was so huge because to me, I didn’t realize how important back in the 90s, how important fascia was to our really our overall longevity of health because again, it’s so inherently linked to the lymphatic system.
Sue Hitzmann: I appreciate it’s also connected to your muscles and there’s of course great benefit of that. But if you’re suffering with an illness or true chronic pain, fascia is the resource to help you get out in stay out of that chronic pain cycle. You can really minimize that and it also creates a new relationship with your body. MELT, that’s why I really love sharing MELT with people is you create and cultivate a new relationship with your body. You listen to it more and that can really change your perception of pain in your body and the body just changes. Your sense of pain gets diminished through these kind of mindful techniques and these very specific methods of tapping into your nervous system, quieting the stress reflex, boosting your body’s natural repair and again, restoring the support of qualities of fascia.
Sue Hitzmann: It’s inherently linked and anybody can do it at any age. We’ve got teenagers that do this, young kids who do this who have a hard time sleeping. We work with kids with ADD and ADHD, we work with autistic kids, all the way on out to 95 year olds who still want to be independent and don’t want to rely on other people to get around.
Sue Hitzmann: It’s really a very broad spectrum of what pain is and how people define it. Athletes don’t even define pain as pain. They kind of call it discomfort or I can’t exercise like I want to. I feel like I’m getting fat or whatever. You know what I mean? It’s how we define it. If pain’s not a good word or people say, “I’m not in pain.” I say to them, “Do you feel like you’re living the most resilient life that you can?” And if the answer is no, fascia’s you’re resource. It’s a doorway into neurological regulation and getting your brain to quiet down some of that stress response that creates the pain signal.
How Often to Implement the MELT Practice to Maintain Relief from Pain
Kimberly Snyder: This is really interesting. I’m really interested too. When I hear this, I’m like, this is exciting. This is again, a new pathway, a new doorway that many of us haven’t explored yet. Is it reasonable to, what amount of time is reasonable to expect to dedicate to this in order to get benefits? Is it every day? A few minutes? We’re all so busy. One thing I know for sure is we’re all trying to cram more in, we’re all running around, fitting a lot in. Is it something we have to do regularly? Weekly? Daily? And then the next question, is it something that we get to a point where we rebalance and we maintain? Or is it, I’m just trying to wrap my head around how we approach this as a healing modality.
Sue Hitzmann: Good question. Yeah, great questions. First of all, daily living accumulates stress. Every day stress is incoming. Think of MELT like brushing your teeth. You brush teeth today so that people can stand your breath but you’re also brushing your teeth daily to prevent tooth decay in the future. I always say, “The minimum amount of time that any person that I’ve really seen profound changes with is MELTing three times a week for 10 minutes a day.” That’s the minimum. That’s the absolute bottom dollar that you can do and actually get your body to change.
Sue Hitzmann: But, if you are suffering with chronic pain, there’s a learning curve to any new modality. The nice thing about, I have an app and so I basically walk people through what you’re going to do every single day for the first 14 days. Here’s your bag, this is what you got to master first. Just do these three sequences. Once you’ve got those, practice those. If you can do them every day, that’s my thing is look, if you’re suffering with pain, at the end of the day, spend 10 minutes before you go to bed and see if you can get your nervous system down a notch in stress, up a notch in repair and then go to bed because here’s the secret if you’re in pain, you’ve got to get a restful night’s sleep. When people are suffering from pain, they do not sleep well and when we sleep, that is where cellular repair is dominant.
Sue Hitzmann: What the first objective is, is to get you more sound night sleep. That’s the beauty of MELT is that that’s almost instantaneous. People who start MELTing their like, my God, I don’t get up to go to the bathroom anymore. I sleep seven hours all of a sudden. This is brand new for me. I say it’s because you’re diminishing accumulative stress. You’re giving your nervous system less stuff to slough off for the next day so you don’t wake up with a backlog of stuck stress.
Sue Hitzmann: If you really want to make an impact in your body, I think self care should be something of a discipline. It’s a practice but if you just spend 10 minutes a day doing, you’re going to start feeling the benefits in the first week that you do it. In fact, the nice thing about MELT is again, the awareness, the assessments that you do to give your brain a baseline of where am I at now? Let me understand what accumulative stress I’ve created today. Let me assess myself for that. Now I’m going to treat myself and then I’m going to reassess. If you sense the changes to something that’s more ideal, you’re there. You’re a self care advocate. You’re what I call a hands off body worker. You don’t need to go to a body worker to care for you. You can empower yourself to do it for yourself and that’s important to know that you can care for yourself better.
Sue Hitzmann: Then, once you know how to do some of the sequences, then you could do what we call MELT map. If you have a specific issue, you can do a map specific to help you resolve that problem. If you want to improve your sports performance, if you have a lifestyle problem, I call it the desk sentence. People who sit all day at desk. Kimberly Snyder: Have a desk.
Sue Hitzmann: We’re sitting ourselves to death. Or again, if you have chronic neck pain or back pain or it’s your knee. Those are things that I know how to kind of hone in on what really do you need to do and what do you need to master to really start to shift your body out of the pain cycle and into the restoration cycle. And once you start to get your body into the path of restoration, it really takes less time, less often but the nice thing about MELT is just it feels awesome when you do it. You immediately feel changes so most of my clients who dedicate the first weeks of doing it, they stick with it and they do it daily. They spend five to 10 minutes at their desk, they do a little hand treatment before they go to bed. They do a rebalance sequence, little compression before they go out for any activity and they’re like, I have actually gotten myself out the pain cycle. And I say, “That’s really empowering, it’s huge.”
Simple Tips for Headache Relief
Kimberly Snyder: That is huge. What would you say about headaches as related to fascia, as related to our nervous system? I know this is a really common thing for a lot of women, a lot of people. A lot of people are popping aspirin and Tylenol all the time because of chronic headaches. What are, I know there’s a lot we could talk about here. Dehydration, all of it but how does it relate to our fascia and again, what are some simple tips or points or just things we could do for headaches?
Sue Hitzmann: Great question. First of all, headaches and migraines are very different things. We used think it was a blood flow problem or is it neurological? Is it neurogenic in orientation? Is it muscular? There’s a lot of different reasons why people have headaches. The first thing that we want to figure out is, what really is the thing causing it? Sometimes it’s our environment. Some people are sensitive to light. There’s just such an array. For me, when I have clients with migraines, the first thing I would start treating them with is a mini hand treatment and a mini foot treatment. Rebalance sequence. I would do a little bit on their hands, a little bit on their feet. I’d have them lie the length of the roller and get their nervous system to down regulate. Alter vagal tone. Get their body to really come back into some sort of balance.
Sue Hitzmann: And then, we would start to treat some of their cervical regions. Cervical-genic migraines and tension headaches are really common because our shoulders and our neck and how we’re carrying things, how we’re sitting, is really creating an impact in the tissue that stabilized the cervical spine. That is a key factor to a lot of just tension headaches.
Sue Hitzmann: I have something we call the 50 second facelift and that was just because I got on Rachel Ray and she didn’t want to talk about pain, she wanted to talk about the fact that I could make cheekbones lift a little bit using the treatment. It really was, I developed that for my clients who had chronic migraines and something called TMJ jaw pain. This is again something that takes about five, one of them takes just a couple of minutes. You use the balls on our face, on your jaw, on your temple to just try to stimulate and create a little bit of fluid exchange right where all those nerves are. The trigeminal nerve, the vagal nerve, to try to help those cranial nerves reset and create what we call down regulation. Get the body’s repair processes to work a little bit more efficiently.
Sue Hitzmann: That’s really the intriguing thing with people with migraines is usually we start them with MELT near the end of the day before they go to bed. Again, getting a more sound night’s sleep, getting more deep sleep, getting more REM sleep, tends to stave off the migraines. I had a gal who used to get literally migraines every single day, I treat her with my hands and she could go three or four days without a migraine but sure enough she’d be right back in my office and I said to her, “You know, there’s something in your environment that’s causing this.” And she said, “Well if you could just invent a way for me to do to myself what you do with your magic hands, I’d stay out of your office.”
Sue Hitzmann: That was really where MELT originated from, was having a client who had chronic migraines, tension headaches, TMJ jaw pain, neck problems and over the course of a month, she went from having migraines every day to having a once a week to then once every two weeks to just every once in a while. That was really so exciting for me. Because people say, once you have migraines, you never get rid of them and here I’ve helped hundreds of people with migraines, tension headaches, get out of it by just simply restoring the supportive qualities of the tissue that is supposed to support the spine and the neck.
Why Manual Stimulation is Necessary for Relief from Chronic Pain
Kimberly Snyder: We cannot get past the fact whether it’s headaches, back pain, hip pain, we really have to do some of this manual stimulation that your method is based on. Because it just accumulates. You have to help it release out of the fascia manually.
Sue Hitzmann: That’s right. Yeah, yeah. Stress accumulates in the connective tissue.
Kimberly Snyder: The body. Sue Hitzmann: Yes. If you think of connective tissue like a sponge, literally daily living is making your sponge a dried up sponge. If you’re waking up in the morning feeling as stiff as a dried out sponge left out overnight on your kitchen sink. You’re feeling connective tissue issues. Again, before it causes symptoms that you now have to get rid of, if you just support the tissue from day to day, it won’t get so stiff and so out of balance and that’s going to leave you feeling more resilient, more active and more free to do more things. Again, a happy life is one where you can do what you want to do when you want to do it and you don’t have to think about pain before you do it.
Kimberly Snyder: Exactly. It feels good, back to our mantra here at Solluna, it feels good to be in your body, to be able to express your fullest potential and to not be distracted by pain. You can’t even meditate when you’re in pain. You can’t focus. You can’t really connect with other people.
Sue Hitzmann: That’s right.
The Beauty of MELT
Kimberly Snyder: That is, this is truly fascinating Sue. Thank you so much for all your amazing information. I can’t wait to check out the MELT Method because as I mentioned, I do have some kind of weird hip pain and it’s come and go. I’ve done fascia work where I’ve gone in and it feels good for a while but you’re talking about it tends to come back and I’d love to just manage it long term.
Sue Hitzmann: That’s right. And listen, if you’re like you, and you’ve got a good body worker, the beauty of MELT is that if you get body work and they reset your body, and then you MELT, you’re going to prolong those changes where you’ll have to go see them less and you’ll again have the tools in your own hand to do it yourself at home and stick with it because you’re worth it.
Using a Foam Roller
Kimberly Snyder: One last question, is it possible to use a foam roller the wrong way? Because I’ve heard that fascia can run in different directions and if you get something you don’t really have a technique, you can actually stiffen your body. Is that true?
Sue Hitzmann: It’s not so much that you can stiffen your body but you could actually cause problems depending upon how you’re treating fascia for sure. Whether you’re using a foam roller or a stick or some other tool, yeah, even doing things that are self care, you can definitely hurt yourself. It is to me, that’s what I’m such a advocate of is a system. Somebody who’s actually thought this through, can share really a process with you that has been tried and true and has worked for 20 years here. Now let’s get people to do this thing for themselves, better than just taking a ball or a stick or a roller and just jamming in the areas that hurt. That’s the thing that people need to hear is that, if there’s an area of your body that’s hurting you, think of it like a victim. If your kid was crying out for your help, you wouldn’t walk up to them and punch them in the face, you would find out what the problem was. You would console him. You would ask questions. You would explore.
Sue Hitzmann: The idea is that if there’s an area of your body screaming out for your help, your neck hurts, you don’t just stick a ball in your neck. That’s beating up the victim. The perpetrators always run away from the scene of the crime. You got to look at all the areas of your body and oftentimes hips issues could be an opposite shoulder problem. It could be something in your upper back. That again, is if you really want to care for yourself, then learn what it takes to really understand the messages of your body and again that’s what my books talk about. The New MELT Performance and the first MELT Method book that came out in 2013. The one that just came out in April.
Sue Hitzmann: Again, it’s really awareness. You’ve got to understand what it is and anybody can be a better self care advocate for themselves. Anybody can learn how to become a hands off body worker. Better to really learn how to be wise and smart and caring for your body rather than trying to shut it up because it’s screaming out for help. We want to care for it. Embrace your body. Love your body. You only get one vessel to be on this world with so treat it well and yeah, keep it juicy. Keep it healthy, keep it active.
Kimberly Snyder: Amazing. Well thank you so much Sue. I really feel like this is amazing work that you’re doing to help offer a solution for like you said, a 100 million people just in the US alone living with pain, finding ways to share with people that they don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. There are tools and techniques. Thank you again so much Sue. This has been fascinating.
Kimberly Snyder: Beauties, please go our show notes, we’re going to link all different sorts of information including where to find Sue’s work, her website. I’ll say it here as well. Is meltmethod.com. Super easy to find. You can find out more information about Sue and her books on there as well.
Kimberly Snyder: I hope you enjoyed this interview. I certainly think fascia work is fascinating. I think we don’t learn about everything that could help our body. We don’t always learn about these self care techniques. It’s really up to us to explore and to experiment and to be curious about ways that we can improve, as Sue was saying, our self care, our connection with our body, our awareness. I hope you guys enjoyed learning, thank you again so much for tuning in. We will be back there Thursday for our Q and A podcast. Til then, take care. Remember, at mysolluna.com is where you will find the show notes, as well as tons of other resources, recipes, free meditations, our Solluna circle, blogs, articles, everything as well as other podcasts you may be interested in. We also have daily inspiration for you at Instagram at @_kimberlysnyder. Thank you again so much. Take care. Lots of love and we’ll see you back here soon.