Hot stone massage is a type of massage that involves the use of smooth, heated stones that the massage therapist places on your body. The therapist also uses the stones in the palms of his or her hands to massage the body.
The penetrating heat and weight of the stones are said warm and relax tense muscles so the therapist can work deeper, more quickly.
The use of the hot stones makes this style unique.
Typically made of basalt, the iron-rich stones retain heat. River rocks are typically used because they have become smooth over time from the river’s current.
To prepare for the treatment, the therapist heats the stones in water, using an electric heater, until they are within a precise temperature range (typically between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit). He or she places the stones on specific points on the back. While the points may vary depending on areas of muscle tension and the client’s health history, they are generally placed along both sides of the spine, in the palms of the hand, on the legs. or between the toes.
The localized heat warms and relax the muscles, allowing the massage therapist to apply deeper pressure.
While many therapists use anatomy to guide the placement of the stones, some massage therapists will also place stones on points thought to energetically balance the mind and body.
The use of hot stones for healing dates back to when Native Americans warmed stones by fire to ease muscle aches and pains. Modern hot stone therapy is generally credited to Arizona massage therapist Mary Nelson, who developed LaStone Therapy, a hot stone technique integrated with therapeutic massage.
Hot stone massage has continued to evolve, with many massage therapists and spas offering their own versions of the massage.
The Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
Some people find the warmth of the hot stones to be comforting and deeply relaxing.
Hot stone massage is suited to people who tend to feel chilly. It’s also suited for people who have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist work the muscles using lighter pressure.
Although there’s a lack of research on the benefits of hot stone massage, the therapy is often used for the same conditions as a classic massage:
- Back pain
- Arthritis pain releif
Who Shouldn’t Get a Hot Stone Massage
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, decreased pain sensitivity, recent wounds, areas of weakened or inflamed skin, tumors, metal implants, or are on medication that thins the blood, check with your doctor before getting hot stone massage.
In general, hot stone massage should not be done on anyone who should not receive standard massage therapy.
Also check with your doctor if you have had recent chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.
Pregnant women and children should avoid hot stone massage.