As knowledge concerning the human body and its many interconnected systems increases, new forms of pain treatment develop. On a regular basis, new methods of back pain treatment emerge that encompass the evolving understanding scientists, researchers and students of rehabilitative science have of the body. The number of these treatment options likely comes as a surprise — and a relief — to people struggling with chronic pain who’ve found themselves at a dead end on the conventional treatment path.
Movement and manipulation therapies have proven largely effective in relieving many back pain causes, from chronic muscle tension to misaligned joints. Some of these treatments are fairly straightforward: in exercise therapy, you strengthen muscles that support the spine; myofascial release targets knots in muscle and connective tissue and restores elasticity. There are some treatments that invoke a more multidisciplinary approach; these may do a better job of addressing the whole body rather than specific problem areas. One such treatment method is called MELT.
Sue Hitzmann is a Craniosacral and Neuromuscular Therapist whose multidisciplinary approach led her to develop the MELT system. It integrates her learning in neuromuscular communication and fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds and supports all of the body’s structures. Hitzmann’s goal is to rehydrate connective tissue, thereby increasing effective neuromuscular communication through functional fascia and keeping the body stronger overall.
The MELT method employs a number of principles and devices from other treatments, including foam rollers, an emphasis on body awareness and conscious muscle engagement. Unlike self-myofascial release, MELT doesn’t advocate the use of heavy compression of fascia; the roller used is very soft. A MELT session has four purposes: to reconnect (increase mind-body connection through body awareness), to rebalance (the diaphragm and the core/nerve communication system), to rehydrate (connective tissue) and to release (by decompressing the body’s joints). See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzv2qIbklqI for a video of a MELT session for the lower back.
MELT is a whole-body approach to maintaining health and recovering from injury. This has certain benefits; a mechanical problem in one part of the body is often related to a problem in a different part. Also worth noting is that MELT seeks to train the body’s neurocommunication system to send the right messages to muscles at the right time, thereby helping prevent further injury.
As a gentle, whole-body treatment system, MELT may not be sufficient for targeting problem areas like trigger points. Sue Hitzmann promotes practicing MELT along with professionally-administered myofascial release, but not self-myofascial release, which she believes comes with too great a risk of injury. MELT may be a good supplement to rehabilitation or a method of maintaining good health, but may not be a treatment plan in itself. Due to the lack of research studies into the effectiveness of many alternative treatments, the best we can do is to be informed about options and to judge the potential effectiveness of a treatment based on the soundness of its theory and its applicability to our situation.
If you’re interested in attending a MELT session, use the locator at http://www.meltmethod.com/finder to find a class near you. You may also wish to watch more videos online like the one above. Pursuing a treatment is always best when done with a trained instructor. However, if money is a barrier, then self-treatment is an option. Proceed carefully, especially if you have back pain or any other health condition.
Myofascia is increasingly becoming acknowledged as a back pain cause. MELT is yet another treatment option available to people looking to reduce pain and increase overall health.
Education in back pain is the cheapest form of self-preservation. Learn about what causes back pain and 4 things that cause sciatic nerve pain.
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