PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you have nagging pain, headaches or stress, trouble sleeping or with digestion, a new self-treatment technique could help you.

It’s called the MELT method.

There’s a group of people who take MELT classes in Sewickley religiously. They’ve been coming for three years because they love the changes in their bodies.

“I could only knit for 10 minutes at a time,” says Maria Richmond of Osborne. After taking a MELT class, she says, “I could knit for 30 minutes or an hour or forever, which was fantastic for me.”

Pamela Walkauskas of McCandless says, “I had the issues in my fingers — I had trigger fingers in my hand and also had arthritis, and I love to garden, so with my knees and back, I wanted the strength to stay out longer and I can now.”

Pamela’s husband, Gregory, also MELTs.

“I wanted to get better balance. I had stroke at end of 2007. I found that doing the feet helped my balance,” he says.

The techniques in this MELT class, which these people also do a couple times a week at home, have literally “MELT-ed” the pain away.

Sue Hitzmann created MELT, which stands for Myofascial Energetic Length Technique.

She explains, “We use soft rollers and soft balls to rejuvenate and juice up the tissue.”

That’s the connective tissue, or fascia, which wraps around every muscle, bone, nerve and organ.

Working the tissue on the roller and ball re-hydrates it, making it flexible again. The connective tissue can become rigid and dry out from age, repetitive motions like running, or even just sitting all day.

David Lesondak, who specializes in treating fascia at UPMC, explains what happens if you hunch over your computer all day, then play video games in the same posture at night:

“The fibrous part of fascia will reorganize to produce this shape — when you’re doing the MELT method, it encourages fibers to reform in a different direction.”

MELT instructor Tonya Ford says MELT-ing got rid of her hip pain. She was a professional dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and says the MELT method is great for athletes of all kinds.

“It helps people keep repetitive injuries at bay, so athletes like it,” Ford says. “It helps with muscle timing, better athletic performance. It helps with recovery time for athletes.”

The regulars in Ford’s MELT class now have their kids and spouses MELT-ing for help with everything from pain to flexibility, digestion and sleep, tension and even wrinkles.

“The collagen is in the connective tissue,” Ford explains, “and so when you have more collagen being produced, that helps to prevent wrinkles.”

Since she started the MELT method years ago, she says, “you just don’t notice those aches and pains anymore.”

Find out more at meltmethod.com.

There’s a DVD, book and the products online if you want to do it at home. The roller is $70 and the hand and foot treatment balls are $50.

Right now, Tonya is the only MELT instructor in Western Pennsylvania. Classes are $10-15.

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Kristine Sorensen