Elements is Heating Up with Hot Stone Massage
Mary Soto, Licensed Massage Therapist Oct 16, 2012
Autumn is here and the trees are dressed in their beautiful fall colors. The weather is changing. The winds are brisk and there's a chill in the air. The thought of football, hot chocolate and warm sweaters comes to mind. A good relaxing massage is even better. The cool, fall days make for a great opportunity to try out something new such a Hot Stone treatment. We offer 55 and 80-minute hot stone sessions here at Elements Park Ridge.
So, just what is Hot Stone Massage? Basically, it's a treatment which incorporates real or engineered basalt stones that have been immersed in hot water (usually about 120 degrees). The stones are smooth and are used by the therapist as an extension of their hands during the treatment, which normally tends to be a traditional Swedish massage. The heat from the stones is supposed to help the client relax and to penetrate tight, sore muscles. There are different philosophies regarding the use of the hot stones. There are those who feel it is meant to be more of a spa-like treatment and that it's all about transferring heat. There are others who feel that the stones can be used to help facilitate deeper work. However, they are not meant to be directly used for deep tissue work.
HISTORY: Hot stones have been used for thousands of years in areas such as Japan, Russia, Hawaii, and by Native American cultures as a method of healing and relaxation. These days, they are used more for relaxation, stress reduction, and well-being. The basalt stones were created by volcanic activity and are the best for retaining heat. The naturally-made stones are smooth because they had been sitting in the rushing waters of a river bed. Over thousands of years, the water has acted to polish the stones smooth. These days, many hot stone sets are manufactured, but still provide the same effect.
BENEFITS: Some of the benefits of hot stone are that it promotes deep muscle and tissue relaxation; it alleviates stress, releases toxins, relieves pain, improves circulation and nutrition to muscles, reduces congestion and tension in the soft tissue and creates a general feeling of warmth, comfort and relaxation.
WHAT TO EXPECT AND HOW TO PREPARE: One can expect to have to hot stone used as part of a Swedish massage session. Generally speaking, the stones are used on the back, neck, shoulders, legs, and arms. Abdomen and head work are not normally done, but facial work is an option. Before coming to your hot stone session, please be sure to drink plenty of water (no alcohol). During the session, please communicate any discomfort especially with regards to the temperature of the stones; allow yourself to breathe deeply at times to help facilitate even greater relaxation. And finally, after the session, get up carefully to assure that you will not become light-headed or dizzy, and continue to drink water to keep well hydrated. This is extremely important.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: There are certain conditions that are contraindicated for hot stone massage. If you have any of the following conditions, please do not request this type of treatment:
Diabetes, cancer, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Autoimmune dysfunctions (HIV or AIDs), Epilepsy Neuropathy, Heart disease, any skin conditions, recent surgeries, pregnancy, acute systemic conditions, severe high blood pressure heat sensitivity, painful varicose veins, peripheral vascular disease
CONCLUSION: I personally feel that hot stone massage can be great when it’s combined with hands on work. When the stones are used alone, you get a wonderful heated Swedish treatment, but you won’t get the deep tissue work that may be needed to alleviate a particular area.
But being one who prefers that deeper work, I like the idea of using the stones to warm the body and then finishing the area with hands. I feel that this allows one to benefit from both worlds. So, I always incorporate both into my treatments.
Of course, as always, one should communicate what he or she would like to receive or experience from their therapist. We have a number of excellent therapists who give a great hot stone treatment and we all strive to give each person what they need to leave to studio feeling lighter, more relaxed and happy!