Congratulations! You’ve made it; you’re here! It’s the start of 2023, and you’ve made the decision that this year is the one for you to start creating healthy habits that stick. Maybe you’re here because someone you know has had a great experience with MELT, maybe you’re here because you want to get back into your MELT practice, or maybe you’re here because you saw the post about this topic on our social media channels.
Regardless of how you wound up here, welcome. We’re excited to have you. Now let’s get down to business. Throughout this series our goal is to help educate you. Because, when you understand the 'why' of something, instead of just the 'how' it helps empower you to stick with your new healthy habits. So let's start with diving into why most of you are here, pain.
The P word…
Pain is a big word covering a variety of symptoms, signals, and sensations. Whether you’re someone who thinks of pain as a result of a traumatic occurrence, a dull ache you notice in your calf after wearing winter boots for the first time this season, or a discomfort that flares up every now and again in your left knee (it’s got to be because of the weather, right?), pain affects your quality of life on every level. One in three Americans loses more than twenty hours of sleep each month because of pain, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It’s not surprising that pain and discomfort can cause anxiety, worry, and mood swings. Ask your coworkers, friends, or family whether they have chronic pain. You’ll probably be amazed by the number of people you know who spend a lot of time and energy worrying about, managing, or trying to ignore pain. I’ve found that many people who make investments of time, energy, and money to do all the “right,” healthy things still experience daily pain and discomfort.
At some point in our lives, we've all experienced something that has caused us pain. Traditionally, there are two types of pain (acute and chronic), but in MELT, we think there are actually three.
You're familiar with acute pain. Traumas like car accidents, cutting your finger with a knife, or burning your hand on a hot stove cause your brain to send you a signal that something's not right to get your attention so you can take action.
Although it never feels pleasant, pain like this is a good thing. Think of it like your internal alarm system. There's a clear reason your nervous system has alerted you about the incident. It has decided you should react, and ideally, fix the problem.
The good thing about most acute trauma is that there’s an identifiable source that caused the pain and the pain is self-limiting and decreases over time as the injury heals. When you have an acute situation, it's often treatable by medicine or surgery. This is often the time to go to the doctor and make sure a bone isn't broken or an infection isn't going to slow down your body's ability to heal.
In addition to acute pain, there’s a well-known second type of pain called chronic pain. Chronic pain is often a side effect of a disease or disorder. For example, if you have diabetes, it's possible that it will damage the nerves, causing neuropathy and lower leg pain. Diabetes doesn't cause lower leg pain, but neuropathy does, thus, pain is a side effect of a disease.
However, chronic pain can occur when an acute trauma doesn't heal well or the damage is so severe that it causes permanent damage to the tissues, like a scar or fibrosis. Unfortunately, chronic pain can be resistant to pain medications and surgeries can often worsen it. It's also not self-limiting like acute pain is, often gets worse over time instead of better and for many, can become debilitating, causing major harm to a person's well-being.
Sudden Chronic Pain
There's a third type of pain that sits between these two commonly defined types of pain. It’s the gray area that MELTers call "sudden chronic pain”. This is the type of pain that seems to come out of nowhere. You wake up with the inability to turn your head to the left without excruciating pain when you didn't do anything out of the ordinary the day before. Or you do the same yoga pose, the same bench press, the same mileage on your morning run, or you just bend over to pick up your child or tie your shoe, and you feel immediate, intense pain.
The biggest issue with sudden chronic pain is that, in many of these instances, we treat it like we would an acute trauma. However, bending over to tie your shoe is not an acute trauma or a traumatic event. This type of pain is caused by accumulated stress created by the repetition of daily life. The worst news is, if you go to your doctor, they will treat it like an acute trauma. They'll give you pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, maybe run tests, but prescription drugs like these don't address the cause of your pain - they simply mask the symptoms - they inhibit your sense of pain. Unlike an acute trauma where these strategies help the nervous system stress response relax so healing can occur, in the case of sudden chronic pain, when we stop feeling the nagging issues, we tend to keep at the very things that caused the issues in the first place. In other words, when our repetitive habits, movements, and postures are in fact the cause of strains, pains, and aches and we take pain relievers, we can slow down our own proper healing. In the end, it can cause more unwanted symptoms and even prolong your pain problem and increase your chances of the same pain points returning again and again for longer periods of time.
Why Does Sudden Chronic Pain Happen?
Even if you’re eating a healthy diet and exercising - pain is not selective. While critical elements of healthy living, there’s some missing puzzle pieces to longevity most people know nothing about. If you want to preserve your stability, function, and resilience as you age, you need to understand the role fascia plays - because it’s a big player in sustaining all three.
Our daily repetitive activities cause this tissue to adapt and become too stiff and rigid. Fascia is a fluid system and it loses its fluid flow when we move too little or too much in a repetitive manner (consider how much you sit in a day).
Repetition is naturally dehydrating this body-wide system. Think of fascia like a sponge: when a sponge is dry, it’s stiff and inflexible and doesn’t change shape or absorb water easily or quickly. However, when a sponge is moist, it’s flexible, adaptable, and absorbs water quickly. You can twist, squeeze, or compress a moist sponge, and when to take the tension or compression away, it bounces back to its original shape no problem. Your body’s connective tissue is similar: when it’s hydrated, it provides an adaptable, flexible, but stable environment for your joints and muscles to move within. But when it’s dehydrated and loses it fluid profusion, your joints feel stiff and your muscles don’t stretch or contract easily.
And now for the inevitable question: Can I just drink more water? Unfortunately, no. Don’t get me wrong, drinking enough water is an important aspect, but it’s not enough. Have you ever heard people say that when they drink water, it goes right through them? This means that their body (just like the dried-out sponge I described) cannot properly absorb and transport the water from the extracellular matrix (that’s fascia on a cellular level) to and from your cells. Cells that don’t get enough fluid and nutrients die (that’s another way to describe the aging process).
The MELT Method Will Help
By hydrating your connective tissue with MELT tension and compression techniques, you give yourself the capacity for healing by keeping your fascia in good condition. When fascia is stable, hydrated, and supple:
- You experience less pain and stiffness in your joints
- Your movements require less effort because your nervous system is more efficient.
- You can easily hop up a flight of stairs, get into and out of a chair, and get down to and up from the floor without a thought.
- You can breathe with ease and sleep well.
- You boost your mood and feel more vibrant, energetic, and clear-headed.
- Digestion and elimination are easy.
- Your skin looks bright and supple.
- You are more likely to experience youthful good health.
Rehydrating your connective tissue—that is, MELTing—can have a powerful effect on your entire body. After following the MELT plan for just a few weeks, you may feel better than you have felt in years—you may even feel better than you ever have. Following the MELT program puts the power to change your body and your life at your fingertips.
Pain-free living is next! Now that you understand the different types of pain, and the reason why you haven't been able to completely eliminate it, it's time to get to work.
First, we've created a brand new free resource for you to use this month to help track your progress toward finally getting rid of your aches and pains. The journal will help you set and achieve your goals, document your daily self-care routine (including Body Scans, Pain Scale ratings, and any other observations or insights you have from your day. Download the free MELT journal and start your journey to pain-free living today
Second, if you're new to MELT, check out the Getting Started section in our streaming library- MELT on Demand. Follow along to the videos and start tracking your progress in the MELT Journal. Get a 30-day free trial of MELT on Demand here.
If you're an avid MELTer, keep going! Use the MELT Journal as a way to continue holding yourself accountable and tracking your changes.
Lastly- you need MELT tools to properly MELT. The MELT Soft Foam Roller and Therapy Balls have all been designed to deliver the specific amount of compression that mimics a therapist's touch to rehydrate your connective tissue and address the root pain problem. Shop for your MELT Beginner Bundle today.