Shannon Hoell is a massage therapist who also uses The MELT Method. MELT is a self-treatment technique to help people stay out of chronic pain that I created initially as in-between-session homework for my clients to progress back to a pain-free body faster.
Today it’s a self-treatment technique many therapists have added to their arsenal of treatment techniques for their own clients. Hoell, owner of Eugene MELT & Massage in Eugene, Oregon, told us it has dramatically improved her work and personal life.
For those unfamiliar with MELT, it is similar to hands-on bodywork in that it addresses the stress that accumulates in the body from daily living. MELT rehydrates the connective tissue system to restore the natural balance of the sensory nervous system.
“It is wonderful to be able to teach an active therapy that empowers people to identify and treat their own pain as well as improve their stability and function,” Hoell writes on her website. “I firmly believe movement is the key to longevity and the more we move the better we feel. I find the MELT Method to be the most effective modality I have ever used to help people get out and stay out of pain.”
She is one of a growing group of therapists who have successfully incorporated MELT into their massage practices. I have witnessed MELT become a unique asset to help grow massage therapists’ practices while also keeping their own bodies out of pain.
Part I: How MELT can help massage therapists perform better
The healing hand is a unique gift and by far the greatest asset a massage therapist possesses. The best therapists spend a great deal of time palpating tissue before they manipulate it. Learning to both see and feel restrictions are assets to a therapist.
My self-treatment method uses small balls and soft rollers to restore the natural balance of the body and you only need minutes in between sessions to do it.
If you are working on many clients in a day, keeping your hands in good shape is really a key element to consistently doing great work. I believe it is my greatest asset and what has allowed me to help so many people over the years of practicing multiple modalities of intervention spanning neuromuscular to craniosacral therapy. Many of our MELT instructors are massage therapists and they find MELT has improved their palpation skills.
Whether you do heavy or light touch compression, keeping your hands nimble and pain-free is key. Whether I am working on a client or if I am going to exercise and lift weights, I always do a MELT Hand Treatment. It keeps my hands flexible, improves the integrity of my grip, and in palpation, many of our instructors say it helps them sense restrictions in muscles and fascia more easily. The treatment takes about five minutes so you can do a mini treatment involving a self-assessment and simple techniques like Gliding, Shearing, and Rinsing.
There is also a Foot Treatment that is the easiest way to ground your own body before you work on a client in the first place. Many therapists become rather empathic and take on the energy of their clients. The easiest way to protect your body is to ground yourself. The foot treatment is designed to rebalance the “GPS signals,” which is a simple way I describe how your nervous system keeps you balanced and stable without your conscious control. When your body has natural balance, it is always easier to remain grounded while you work on a client. If you have ever worked on a client’s aching back and woke up the next day feeling a sore low back, then MELT your feet.
Part II: Reducing the risk of stress and job-related injuries
I believe a common problem that inhibits a massage therapist of sustaining a lifelong career is work-related pain and injury.
There is a saying, “The cobbler has the worst shoes, and his children walk barefoot.” This frequently is a similar theme for therapists. They work on many people weekly to decrease their stress and keep them out of pain yet they don’t have the time or money to get their own bodies worked on weekly.
With the amount of clients seen in a day, it’s common that the therapist has a stress- or work-related injury. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, neck and back pain, shoulder strains, and arthritis are common in therapists. It’s not because they have poor technique; it’s just the hours they spend bent over their clients that does it.
The repetitive habits of a therapist—from leaning over the massage table to lifting client’s body parts either for stretching or fascial manipulation—lead to pain and injuries. If you MELT at the end of the day it helps to erase the negative effects your workday. I’ve seen the MELT Upper Body Hydrate Sequence and the Rebalance Sequence do wonders for massage therapists. These sequences together decrease stuck stress in your neck and arms after a long day of work.
Part III: Educating clients on this self-care method
People can learn how to MELT in just a few sessions. The uniqueness about the method is the self-assessments. I’ve developed these so people can sense stuck stress and imbalance before it becomes pain. As a massage therapist, teaching this to your clients is a great asset that you can use before and after your own hands-on sessions so they can value the changes you make with your hands.
Connective tissue dehydration is a natural cellular process – one that hands-on therapeutic intervention can help. However, most people don’t see a massage therapist daily, so stuck stress accumulates between sessions. MELT becomes homework for your client so they maintain some of the profound benefits a great massage can create. It educates and empowers your clients to take charge of their body and actively partake in their wellness. When a therapist works from this empowering place, referrals are sure to come in.
Part IV: How MELT can help your business
Many therapists decide to become MELT instructors so they get the products at a discount and add income to their business. MELT has offered many massage therapists a unique approach to building their practices while saving their own bodies from stress and pain. As a business owner, I’ve helped hundreds of practitioners grow their businesses.
When I first developed MELT, it was simply a form of homework for my clients to do between sessions to keep the benefits of the session while also empowering them to get out of my office. At first I worried that I would actually lose my private practice because everyone would get better faster, thus they wouldn’t have to see me anymore. However, just the opposite happened. Because they did get better faster, they referred more and more people to me. They also found me as their ally because they realized I wanted to get them back into daily life without having to see me over and over again. However, they still wanted me to keep them on my calendar for a future appointment for a monthly tune-up.
My intention is not to sell you on becoming a MELT instructor or to buy any products, although I truly believe in my method’s benefits for massage therapists. What I hope is that reading this will allow you to think more about how you can keep your body pain-free.
You and your clients don’t have to rely on pain symptoms to know something is out of whack. You really can feel the positive effects after a single session of MELT and letting this awareness take shape is an incredible feeling.
My own journey to discovery through what is now MELT encompassed a decade of my life. Today, I’ve been able to synthesize the key components and distill it for others to help themselves. I am constantly working to improve the system with the collective knowledge of the healing community. We’re all in this together. If your goal is to stay pain-free and help others do the same, MELT could be another step in making your career and body thrive for years to come.
Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, is a nationally recognized somatic-movement educator and manual therapist. Her decades of practice, research, and study of connective tissue science and complementary therapies have culminated in the creation of TheMELT Method, a revolutionary approach to pain-free fitness and longevity. For more information, please visit: http://www.meltmethod.com.