Hot Stone Therapy
Have you ever experienced a hot stone massage? A common response from those who have is one of deep relaxation and inner peace. The heated stones penetrate the muscle tissue and create the feeling of a deep tissue massage without any added pressure and weight. The main principle of treatment is using heat as the agent for healing.
Hot stone massage therapy is an increasingly popular modern method of relieving stress, reducing muscle stiffness, and boosting blood circulation. However, the use of smooth, hot stones to warm, relax, and therapeutically massage key points of the body is nothing new. In fact, it is something very ancient in its origins.
The Ancient Roots of Hot Stone Massage Therapy
Many experts believe that hot stone massage therapy was first practiced thousands of years ago in India, as part of the Indian holistic health tradition known as “Ayurveda.” At that time, smooth stones were sought from local river beds, which were used either hot or cold as a therapeutic massaging instrument.
Similar practices are known to have existed in ancient Japan and China, where warmed, smooth stones were used to heat body parts so as to improve the functionality of various internal organs.
Hundreds of years ago, heated stones were in use in at least two other locations as a holistic health treatment: Hawaii and North America. In Hawaii, lava rocks were warmed and laid directly on the body to boost blood circulation. Among the various people groups of North America, hot stones were in common use in “sweat lodges,” where are much akin to saunas, and in fact, are still so used to this day. Additionally, they would rub hot stones against hurting parts of the body during ritual healings and rub them up against the abdomen as a way to combat cramps.
How Hot Stone Massage Therapy Works
During a hot stone massage, the smooth, warmed stones can be held in the therapist’s hands and rolled/pressed on key areas of the body. They can also be laid to rest on the back, while the therapist works elsewhere using manual techniques.
Stones are fully sanitized and heated in a temperature-controlled environment, normally immersed in water. Massaging oil will be used to ensure the stones slide easily over the skin’ surface.
Most massage stones are egg-sized and smoothed naturally in a stream or by oceanic waves. Basalt stones are most commonly used because basalt’s high iron content guarantees a high heat absorption/retention rate.
The Benefits of Hot Stone Massage Therapy
While hot stone therapy has many potential health benefits, including the following:
- Deeper massage penetration of muscle layers due to warmer muscles
- Expansion of blood vessels, leading to improved circulation
- Deep relaxation and relief of stress and muscle tension
- Increased joint flexibility and range of motion
- Chronic pain relief, including for back pain and arthritis
- Elimination of harmful body toxins
- Lessens the effects of depression and insomnia
- Soothes the nervous system
- Stimulates the lymphatic system
- Adds warmth and heat into the body
Please note: Hot Stone Massage is not suitable for the following health conditions and will not be administered without a letter of consent from your physician:
Severe menopausal condition (Hot flashes)
Severe heart condition
Acute skin condition(s) (Eczema, Psoriasis)
Heat rash and/or sunburn
It is important to notify your therapist of any discomfort during and/or after the massage.