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New treatment helps melt away 'stuck stress'

By Jessica Karmasek

HUNTINGTON - Recovering from a knee or hip replacement? Pregnant and experiencing back pain? Suffering from migraines? Dealing with chronic pain or some type of bone disorder? Are you an athlete? Are you out of shape?

This learning experience might be for you.

The MELT Method, created by manual therapist Sue Hitzmann, is a self-treatment system that helps restore the supportiveness of the body's connective tissue. It's not exercise. It's not a diet.

The revolutionary system, through the use of soft balls and soft rollers, eliminates chronic pain, improves performance and decreases the stress caused by repetitive postures and movements of everyday living.

"MELTing your body is just as important as brushing your teeth in regards to self-care," said Susan Robarts, a local certified MELT instructor. "You brush your teeth for two reasons: one, to have fresh breath for the short term, and two, to keep your teeth healthy for the long term. Look at MELT the same way."

Robarts hosted two MELT workshops at Marshall University's Recreation Center this month.

Robarts, a holistic nutrition and fitness coach in Huntington and the only certified MELT instructor in West Virginia, said MELT shouldn't be confused with typical before- and after-workout stretching.

"In traditional stretching, you're stretching your muscles. This isn't about your muscles at all," she explained.

"There's a thin layer of tissue all over your body - around your brain, your spinal cord - called connective tissue. A lot of us sit at a desk all day, compressing that connective tissue.

"When you MELT, you're hydrating that tissue and getting rid of any 'stuck-stress.' It's more preventative care."

Robarts also is quick to point out that MELT doesn't replace massage, physical therapy or yoga.

"Those focus on a completely different system of the body," she said.

And unlike other fitness regimes, MELT doesn't target a specific age or demographic.

"Anybody can MELT," Robarts said.

Even children with attention deficit disorders, older folks and those suffering from chronic constipation or sleep disorders can be helped through the system, she said.

"MELT gives people an outlet," Roberts said, noting that it's also a good starting point for any exercise program.

"People who MELT regularly find that they want to exercise, or more often, because they have more energy and less pain."

Plus, it doesn't take a lot of time.

Robarts said a person should MELT at a minimum of 15 minutes, three times a week.

In particular, MELTing before strength training can improve muscle performance and MELTing after an intense cardio workout can help erase joint compression and stiffness, she said.

But if you want to MELT every day, that's OK, too, Robarts said.

"MELT takes about as long as it does to brush your teeth, so why not give your body the self-care it deserves and needs?" she said.

Members and non-members of the Marshall Recreation Center are welcome at Robarts' workshops. The cost is $20 for members and $28 for non-members.

To sign up, go to the Rec Center's welcome desk or visit www.marshallcampusrec.com.

For more information on individual sessions with Robarts or to purchase MELT products, visit www.meltwv.com.


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