Hot stone massages have been around for a long time, with some claiming that the practice originates from Native American tribes using stones warmed by fire as relief for aching muscles. The modern method of hot stone massages is said to have been introduced by Tucson, AZ native Mary Nelson, who trademarked the practice under the LaStone Therapy brand.
In the present-day massage therapy practice, hot stone massage is a specialty massage where smooth, heated stones are used by the therapist by placing them or rubbing them on the body. The heat from the stones leads to deep relaxation and to warming up the tight muscles enabling the therapist to work more deeply and more quickly.
Therapists mostly use basalt stones during therapy sessions, mainly for their non-porosity, their smoothness and their ability to retain heat longer than any other type of stone. Furthermore, basalt stones come in different sizes, which means that the massage therapist can use smaller tooling stones for performing specific massage strokes, and larger placement stones for longer treatments.
Some massage therapists use the energy lines or meridians of the body to place hot stones for energy work. By doing so, movement of energy known as qi or chi is stimulated and in this way the effects of stress are eliminated and healing is facilitated. Hot stone massages also help in releasing toxins, relieving pain and improving circulation. People who have experienced massage with heat get so many healing properties that they keep going back for these massages. Benefits of hot stone massages are said to include:
- Relief from muscle spasms, pain, tension & improved muscle relaxation.
- Significant reduction of stress & anxiety
- Improved blood circulation and flow of energy
- Better sleep patterns
Use of Cold Stones
Cold stones are also used by some therapists instead of hot stones. These marble stones are hand cut for use in cold stone therapy, which is especially useful for injury and inflammation. With the use of cold stones, the body is invigorated with the added benefit of a cooling effect on hot days or for hot flashes.
Another stone therapy is to use hot and cold stones alternatively, a technique called contrast therapy, which takes advantage of the benefits of both heat and cold. The contrasting temperatures expand and constrict the blood vessels, stimulating blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
Words of Caution
It is important that before having a hot stone massage, your therapist is fully informed of all your medical conditions and how your body reacts to external stimuli. You may also want to speak to your treating general practitioner before you book an appointment for stone massages since some skin conditions, such as eczema, rashes, and psoriasis can get worse with heat. Moreover, it is best to avoid heat if you are taking medication that causes skin hypersensitivity such as antibiotics or Acutane for acne. Heat should not be applied on varicose veins, open wounds, infected skin conditions or inflammation and you should be careful regarding areas that are numb.
In the case of cold stone massage, you should avoid it if you are suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, circulatory problems, reduced sensation, or nerve damage. If you have abdominal distress due to discomfort, pain, bloating, gas, cramping, constipation, or diarrhea, you should avoid cold stones. These symptoms can however be relieved by moving warm stones in a circular, clockwise direction.
Hot stone massage is something that can provide many benefits as well as enjoyment but it all depends on the expertise of the therapist. The expert massage therapists at Body & Balance – Central Australia are guaranteed to provide a completely blissful experience. Get in touch with them here.