At the age of 26, Sue Hitzmann had a bestselling fitness video, a cover on Muscle & Fitness Magazine and a hosting gig on ESPN’s Crunch TV -– in other words, her career as a fitness instructor was thriving, and she felt as though she had “made it.”
However, when Hitzmann woke up with a severe foot pain, her entire career was put at risk.
“It got to the point where my foot hurt 24 hours a day. The pain was so intense that it woke me up at night and exhausted me during the day … I became very depressed,” wrote Hitzmann in her recent book "The MELT Method."
After the usual stretching, icing and resting did not alleviate her pain, Hitzmann began to research alternative ways to fix her foot. She soon found that the answer to her pain lay in the science of fascia, or connective tissue. By performing a series of light touch exercises, which she calls the “MELT method,” she hydrated her connective tissue, which healed her foot pain. She now believes that her “MELT method” can help everyone be pain-free and reverse the signs of aging.
Connective tissue is what “surrounds and supports all aspects of your body, including your muscles, bones, nerves and organs” according to a press release for "The MELT Method." Chronic pain is a result of connective tissue dehydration, according to Hitzmann.
“Connective tissue dehydration is a natural process of daily living,” said Hitzmann. “It’s happening to everyone … when you sit you’re pulling connective issue … Aches are a sign of dehydration, but they usually go away when you move so you never do anything about it -– but it accumulates and causes problems."
Hitzmann, now 42, calls her initial foot pain a “blessing in disguise.” After learning more about connective tissue, she became a manual therapist and has now worked with thousands of clients to help alleviate their ailments. There are currently 500 trained MELT instructors across the country, who generally work with clients between the ages of 45 and 65. Hitzmann's recent book, "The MELT Method," explains the techniques instructors use to heal the body.
One of the benefits of the MELT method is that it helps reverse the signs of aging, according to Hitzmann.
“When your cells don’t have fluid they die. This creates low grade inflammation and accelerates aging,” said Hitzmann. “If you create short bouts of tension and compression the cells react, and as they react, there’s a fluid exchange. This literally [creates] cellular repair.”
This cellular repair helps people look better, feel better and sleep better, according to Hitzmann. While Hitzmann said that people will feel the effects of MELTing by only committing 10 minutes to it a day, if someone is in a lot of pain, she recommends MELTing for up to an hour before bed. By doing this, the body can repair one’s cells while they are sleeping. According to Hitzmann, the MELT method has even helped prevent people from getting surgery related to chronic pain.
A MELT method can be as simple as placing a small ball underneath your foot and gliding the ball back and forth. MELTing on different parts of the body is necessary because it can be difficult to identify an actual source.
“You could have neck pain but the [dehydrated tissue] might be near the ribs,” said Hitzmann.
While Hitzmann is no longer as ripped as she was as a fitness instructor, Hitzmann emphasizes that exercise and MELTing are not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, she sees MELTing as the final step to achieving a truly healthy lifestyle.
“Restoring the natural state of connected tissue is what’s missing in lives of people who are healthy and who engage in healthy diet and exercise,” said Hitzmann.
Click here to find a MELT instructor near you.