Hot stone massage is a specialty massage where the therapist uses smooth, heated stones, either as an extension of their own hands, or by placing them on the body while they massage other parts of the body. The heat can be both deeply relaxing and help warm up tight muscles so the therapist can work more deeply, more quickly. Used along with other massage techniques, hot stones can be quite soothing and relaxing as they transmit heat deep into the body.
Easing muscle tension without deep pressure; maximizing massage time. Hot Stone massage is among the most relaxing modalities and we recommend clients schedule 80 minute sessions to get the maximum benefit.
Dating back more than 2,000 years, heated stones were originally used in Chinese cultures for the purpose of improving internal organ functionality. Later, the use of stones for healing purposes moved into other areas of the world – North America, South American, Africa, Europe, Egypt and India – bringing with it traditions for diagnosing and treating diseases, as well as use in ceremonial sweat lodges.
Instead of manipulating the muscle and connective tissue using a vertical technique like in a traditional massage, hot stone massage releases muscle and body tension in a horizontal approach that results in an increase in the body’s blood flow. Increasing blood flow is always a good thing, says Poletti, because blood flow brings oxygen and fresh nutrients to the muscle tissue. Whether you have tight muscles or are under extra stress, hot stone massage can be a warm and relaxing way to relieve muscle tension and mental fatigue.
The quality of the treatment depends on how well the therapist has been trained, how skilled he or she is, and whether he or she enjoys doing the treatment. Some therapists don't like to do it because the hot stones are difficult to handle. A hot stone massage takes a lot of skill and sensitivity on the part of the therapist. Elements Massage therapists have specialized training and certifications in Hot Stone massage.
Before you arrive, the massage therapist sanitizes the stones and heats them in bath of 120 to 150 degree water. The stones themselves are usually basalt, a black volcanic rock that absorbs and retains heat well, and have been smoothed by natural forces in the river or sea, or a modern engineered stone product with the same properties.
You usually start face down, with the therapist working on your back. First, the therapist warms up the body with traditional Swedish massage, then massages you while holding a heated stone. As the stone cools, the therapist replaces it with another. The therapist uses many stones of various shapes and sizes – big ones on the big muscles, smaller ones on smaller muscles.
The therapist might also leave heated stones in specific points along your spine, in the palms of your hand, on your belly, or even between your toes to improve the flow of energy in your body.
Be sure to speak up if the stones are too warm or the pressure too intense. And you can always ask them to stop using the stones if you don't like how it feels.
Hot Stone massage is not appropriate if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or are on medication that thins your blood. You shouldn't get a hot stone massage if you are pregnant or sunburned. You also may want to reconsider if you are menopausal, as it may trigger a hot flash.