Ever notice how even your enviably fit pals (and celebs!) still have some cellulite? That’s because it has little to do with how much you work out or even what you eat (Having more body fat obviously increases the odds that cellulite will appear, but decreasing your body fat is not a guarantee you’ll get rid of it), says Sue Hitzmann, founder of The MELT Method—a self-treatment system that focuses on the body’s connective tissue to eliminate pain, improve performance, flexibility, and range of motion, and reduce tension and imbalances in the body that come from everyday living (think: lifting groceries, running a marathon—even sitting).
So, what is to blame for cellulite then? Although it’s a complicated topic and the root cause is still being studied and debated in the scientific community, Hitzmann says the lumpy, clumpy, cottage-cheese textured appearance on your thighs is primarily due to dehydrated connective tissue (the collagen-based tissue that supports everything from your skin to your bones and everything in between). Allow us to explain…
In between your skin and muscles, there’s a layer of connective tissue. Think of it like a sponge around your muscles. If the sponge is hydrated, it stays supple and juicy, says Hitzmann. But, if it gets dehydrated, the fat cells in your legs can multiply (unlike the fat cells in your stomach, which actually expand, rather than multiply). “This damages the collagen fibers in your thighs and stretches them out like an old sweater that’s lost its shape—resulting in the appearance of cellulite on your skin,” says Hitzman. That’s why, even when you lose weight and reduce body fat, you can still see cellulite—the collagen-based tissue is still damaged. Slimming down can certainly help, but the real way to reduce the appearance of cellulite is to get to the root of the problem and rehydrate the tissue.
Your first line of defense: Move more. Sitting all day chronically compresses the backs of your legs so simply standing up for five minutes every hour can help keep the connective tissue hydrated.
Even better? Add these three MELT moves to your routine. They help stimulate the cells in your connective tissue to restore its “juiciness,” says Hitzmann. “If you do these moves every day for 10 minutes for four weeks, you should begin to see a noticeable difference,” says Hitzmann. To do the moves, you’ll need a MELT soft body roller ($59.99, meltmethod.com). You can also try wrapping a yoga mat around a firm foam roller to provide some cushion
With your upper body on the ground, move the roller under your upper thighs (just below where your butt meets your thighs) and extend your legs (A). Slowly drag your legs together (B) and apart (like you’re making a snow angel or doing jumping jacks) to “Shear” the backs of your thighs—think of it like moving the flesh around your thigh bones. Repeat 8-10 times. Pause and take two deep breaths. Then, move the roller to the middle of your thighs, do 8-10 reps, then pause and take two deep breaths. Finally, move the roller just above your knees and do 8-10 reps. This move will take you approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
Lie on your right side and place the roller in front of you. Let your head rest on your lower arm. Place your left inner foot arch on top of the roller and slowly lower your calf and knee so the lower half of your leg is on top of the roller (A). Let your body roll toward the roller so your knee is an inch beyond the roller. Then, straighten your left leg so it is perpendicular to your body (B). Create a short “Gliding” motion above your knee by allowing your body weight to fall slightly forward and then backward, moving the roller on a small region of your inner thigh 8-10 times (C). Pause and take two deep breaths. Then, slowly bend and straighten your knee three times to stimulate your cells.
Place your right inner thigh on the roller just above the knee, and straighten your right leg. Bend your left knee and use that leg for support (A). Slowly “Rinse” (a MELT term for a one-directional compression technique that helps move fluids throughout your connective tissue) up the inner thigh, applying consistent pressure to move the roller slowly toward the top of your inner thigh (B). When you reach it, rotate your leg so the back of your thigh is now on the roller (C). Take two deep breaths, then “Rinse” down the back of your thigh with consistent pressure and stop right above your knee. Repeat this “Rinsing pass” up the inside and down the backside of your thigh 6-8 times. Pause for two deep breaths between each pass. Repeat on the left thigh.