Book Review: The MELT Method

Reviewed by Rebekah Le Magny​
Title: The Melt Method – A Breakthrough Self-Treatment System to Eliminate Chronic Pain, Erase the Signs of Aging, and Feel Fantastic in Just 10 Minutes a Day.
Author: Sue Hitzmann
Published: 2013
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 283
Availability : widely available (purchased on Amazon)
Photos: Black and White

Sue Hitzmann was a popular and famous fitness instructor who even became a host for Crunch on ESPN. Highly muscled and motivated, she often presented at fitness conventions, modeled for the cover of Muscle and Fitness and had a highly successful dvd. She was the picture of health until chronic pain caused her to seek help. Finding no solution from traditional medicine, she was able to find relief at the hands of a craniosacral therapist, which then prompted her to use her own innate healing skills to become a bodyworker herself. Since childhood, Sue had been able to feel subtle vibrations in others. However, this ability was considered strange and Sue was encouraged not to mention it to others when she was a child. She learned to use this skill in her new career and rapidly found new success as a manual therapist.. Sue later met Gil Hedly, a theologian, a Rolfer and an anatomist, who, during a dissection course, introduced her to the mysterious world of fascia, the body’s connective tissue. Sue began rigorously researching fascial science, which is a fairly new science even today and developed her signature method, MELT.
Sue developed the MELT method as a way of helping people reap the benefits at home that previously had only been attainable through bodywork at the hands of a manual therapist.. She explains that many people suffer from chronic pain, which she defines to include achiness, stiffness and swelling that is often unexplainable and mysterious. Because the root of the chronic pain is often not apparent on X-rays, MRIs or blood tests, these people have been told that their pain is either in their head or just a normal part of ageing. Having failed to find relief through traditional means (usually pain medication), they have come to accept their pain as normal and incurable and have resigned themselves to “managing” it. Sue explains that the source of this chronic pain is dehydration of the fascia, inflammation and joint misalignment, all of which tend to occur together. Furthermore, the dehydration, which is caused by repetitive stress and which compromises the body’s tensegrity, tends to have a ripple effect, spreading to other areas of the body. She cites studies that show that chronic inflammation is the primary source of joint damage and not wear and tear. She states that even if we stretch our muscles and work on our misalignment, we must address the fascial system as a whole in order to relieve our pain. The body’s connective tissue needs to stay hydrated in order to remain healthy and function properly. However, Sue explains that once the tissue is dehydrated, it cannot be repaired by simply drinking water. She uses the analogy of a dried up sponge to explain why. A sponge that is dry does not absorb water effectively. It must first be squeezed so that it can absorb fluid. Likewise, the connective tissue must be compressed and then released in order to absorb fluid, which it will then be newly capable of transporting to other cells in the body.
Sue tested her method on her students as she developed it and was surprised to hear that not only did they have less pain, but they were also experiencing less migraines, menstrual cramps and fatigue, and even asthma, which suggested improvements in the body’s nervous system as well as the connective tissue systems. Sue concluded that what she referred to as the stuck stress in the connective tissue systems is intricately linked to imbalances in the body’s regulatory system, that the problems coexist. Consequently, rehydration of the body’s connective tissue system helps the body’s regulatory system find its optimal balance. The premise behind the MELT method is that in ten minutes a day, people can restore hydration to their connective tissue, relieving inflammation and allowing the body to naturally recover optimal alignment and ultimately to feel better, sleep better, look better and age gracefully.
How it works

The MELT method requires a very soft foam roller, which is available for purchase on the Melt website as well as from OPTP or amazon. I have a very soft foam roller that I purchased from Sissel online in France and I find that it is equivalent. Sue cautions against using a traditional foam roller, which is too hard for purposes of the method but says that if need be, you can wrap one up in towels or a yoga mat, or you can use rolled up blankets instead. I did not try any of these options and am a bit skeptical that they would have the same effect. I do find that rolling on the soft roller is a much more pleasant and gentler experience than on a traditional roller or a Grid roller. In addition, the hand and foot part of the method require small balls. I purchased them directly from the MELT site but you can probably use small rubber balls like those you get in a gum machine. MELT stands for Myofascial Energetic Length Technique.The method resolves stuck stress by addressing what Sue calls the four R’s: : Reconnect, Rebalance, Rehydrate and Release. The techniques are broken down into: a Rebalance Technique, which involves an auto-assessment of the body, gentle rocking on the roller and what Sue refers to as 3-D breath; Rehydration Techniques, which includes compressive stimulation (gliding, shearing and rinsing) and two-directional lengthening, as well as decompression. Performing the techniques is called Melting. Sue recommends that you drink water both before and after Melting and that you also perform a body self assessment (she calls it a rest assess) before and after the sequences. She provides an upper body hydration sequence and a lower body hydration sequence, both of which require you to use the soft roller, and also hand and foot treatments, which use the small balls. Sue suggests that you familiarize yourself with these sequences, after which you can begin to mix and match. The mixing and matching is what Sue calls a MELT map – a treatment that includes the Four R’s. Ten minutes is the maximum amount of time one should compress a particular area of the body on the roller, although the maps can take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes.


Does it Work

must confess that I am feeling aches and pains in multiple areas of my body as I am writing this, so clearly a couple of Melting sessions is not enough to reverse whatever stuck stress I have throughout my body. In addition, Sue just released a dvd which allowed me to see that I was not following her method exactly as I was supposed to do. I will say that I did feel pretty good during and immediately after doing one of the sequences, but I will have to be more persistent to be able to testify as to whether Melt delivers its promises.  That said, there is no shortage of people who claim that MELT is the miracle they have been seeking, that it cured their problems that they could not resolve using other methods. MELT classes have sprung up around the United States (not in France, so I have yet to take a class). I have seen testimony from fellow pilates teachers who have trained with Sue that they experienced changes or witnessed them after only one session using the hand and foot treatment. I cannot, in all honesty, personally attest to any miraculous changes – yet. But I am a bit Mulder-ish. I want to believe! So I will try to Melt every day for a month and I will let you know how I feel. I hope that you will also let us know how you feel if you try the method or if you already use it.

To Buy or Borrow :

I have not done MELT long enough to provide reliable testimony as to whether it truly delivers. However, the explanations certainly make sense and doing a ten minute sequence does have at least a temporary positive effect. I would therefore recommend buying the book. It will “melt” a bit of a hole in your pocket if you buy the book, the roller and the small balls. (Apologies for the bad joke). Ultimately it is a bit of an investment, but I believe that the balls and the foam rollers are good to have even if you don’t follow the method. I do prefer the roller to traditional rollers and it is nice to massage my feet on the balls.