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Roll Away Lower Back Pain

If you sit in front of a desk all day, chances are you’ve experienced lower back pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, it occurs most often between ages 30 and 50 thanks to the aging process and increasingly sedentary life styles. Although exercise was once thought to make the condition worse, it’s now recognized as one of the best ways to speed recovery while strengthening back and abdominal muscles.

If you suffer from occasional or chronic lower back pain, or you want to prevent it, consider adding the MELT Method to your exercise routine. Developed by somatic-movement educator and manual therapist Sue Hitzmann, MELT is a gentler form of self-massage. “While a traditional foam roller is designed to help restore blood flow to muscles by heavy compression force…the ultimate goal of MELT is to improve the overall integrity of the connective tissue system, which provides architectural support to all structures in the body from the skin to the bones,” says Hitzmann.

Hitzmann believes that her method keeps connective tissue hydrated and reduces cellular damage—two things that can lead to chronic health issues. Keep your lower back pain free with this exercise sequence (you’ll need a soft foam roller, such as this soft body roller designed specifically for MELTing). Although you can MELT as often as you want, for the best results, Hitzmann recommends doing it at least 10 minutes a day three times a week.
Step 1
Lie on the floor and notice the curve of your low back. Where do you feel the peak of the curve? Does it feel like it’s above or below your belly button? Are your bottom ribs on or off the floor? Take note of what you feel.
Step 2
Sit on the MELT soft body roller and place your right arm behind you as you angle your knees slightly to the right side. Move the roller up and down on your hip and then make small circles. Open and close your knee. Pause, wait, and breathe. Repeat on the other side.
Step 3
Lie on the floor. Bend your knees, put your feet flat on the floor, lift up your hips, and position the roller under your pelvis, just below the lower back. Draw both knees toward your chest to check if the roller is in the right place. If the roller feels like it’s going to slip out, it’s too close to your butt cheeks and you need to move the roller higher, but not in your low back. Place your hands at the top of your thighs so your fingertips touch your knees. Keep your arms straight and gently press your thighs into your hands. Tuck your pelvis so your pubic bone moves toward your belly button. Keep your arms straight and the pressure of your thighs toward your hands, and tilt your pelvis so the back of your pelvis is weighted on the roller. Repeat the tuck and tilt 4-5 times.
Step 4
Pull one knee to your chest and push the other foot to the floor. Take a breath. Repeat on the other side.
Step 5
Lie on the floor, close your eyes, and take a moment to sense if you notice a more distinct curve just above the pelvis? If you find that your low back curve is no longer behind the ribs and is now closer to the pelvis, you have successfully decompressed your own low back!

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