Hot Stone Massage: The Chocolate Decadence of the Massage Menu!
Hot Stone Massage Therapy is an ultra-luxurious but highly beneficial therapy that uses warm basalt stones to massage your body. Additional warm stones are placed on energy chakras or on areas of tension to allow the heat to penetrate deeply into the tissues.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy is profoundly relaxing and is frequently offered in spas and health clubs. It is often a bit more pricey due to the extra work involved with preparing the stones. Sessions typically last from 60 to 90 minutes.
COOL Factoids About Hot Stone Therapy
Hot stone therapy is not a new idea. In fact, stones have been used in healing rituals for thousands of years. Here are just a few examples.
In ancient China, small slender stones called Bianshi were heated and used like acupuncture needles to treat medical conditions. This stone therapy was the precursor to acupuncture. Also, heated basalt stones were piled on the body to ease muscle fatigue and pain dating back to before the Shang Dynasty (circa 2000-1500 BC).
Hawaiian Kahunas used lava stones for healing and protection. Lava stones are also used in Lomi Lomi, the traditional Hawaiian massage. Rougher stones are used to defoliate the skin.
In North America, Native Americans use heated stones in their sweat lodges and ceremonies. Heated stones are still commonly used today in health club saunas.
More recently, Hot Stone Massage Therapy was popularized by Mary Nelson, a massage therapist in Tucson, Arizona who developed LaStone Therapy. LaStone Therapy uses both hot and cold stones and is a highly therapeutic and even spiritual experience. Mary Nelson has trained thousands of massage therapists and health care professionals around the world.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy Benefits
- Relaxes and sedates
- Helps alleviate insomnia
- Eases menstrual cramps and associated lower backache
- Relieves tension headaches
- Eases osteoarthritis and arthritis pain
- Releases tension from chronically tight muscles and relieves muscle spasm, aches and pains
- Allows the therapist to work more deeply into your already relaxed muscles
- Increased sweating detoxifies and promotes healing
- Promotes a spiritual feeling of being grounded, or connected with earth energy
What To Expect During Your Hot Stone Massage
First of all, no two Hot Stone Massage sessions are exactly alike. Each practitioner has their own style and the session is individualized for each client’s needs. Second, each stone set is unique. The size, shape, texture and type of stones used all affect your experience.
Practitioners that specialize in Hot Stone Massage often invest in extensive stone sets with many different specialized shapes and sizes. That being said, here is one example of a session.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy is a “clothes off” type of massage. See What to Expect on Your First Massage for a more detailed description if you have never had any type of massage before.
Often, you start face down on the massage table, draped with a sheet or large towel. Stones are placed on your back, sacrum and in the palms of your hands. The heat from the stones releases muscle tension while the therapist applies warm oil to your body. You are massaged by a combination of hot stones and the therapist’s hands.
The therapist then asks you to turn over and lie on your back. More stones are placed on your body. Small hot stones are placed between your toes, a personal favorite of mine! The stone massage is repeated on the front of your body.
What Could be Better Than Hot Stone Massage Therapy? The ultimate indulgence is a Hot Stone Massage given by 2 therapists at once! Some fancy spas offer this little bit of heaven for those willing and able to pay.
Tips for Your Hot Stone Massage
- Don’t eat a heavy meal right before your massage. You may get nauseous.
- It’s always important to give your therapist feedback during a massage about pressure and other comfort factors but it is especially important during a Hot Stone Massage. People have widely varying heat tolerance, so be sure to let your therapist know if the stones feel too hot or if you are starting to feel overheated. What feels comfortable to one person may be too hot for another.
- Be sure to drink plenty of fluids after your massage. Your will be more dehydrated than usual after a Hot Stone Massage. Your body needs extra fluid to help eliminate toxins and cellular waste flushed out by the massage.
- Hot Stone Massage Therapy can be very sedating. If you suffer from insomnia, a session in the evening before bed just may cause you to sleep like a baby.
- Ask if your practitioner has had additional training in Hot Stone Massage Therapy. Therapists learn how to safely handle hot stones, appropriate stone heater settings, how to sanitize the stones and equipment and contraindications specific to Hot Stone Massage. And, of course, how to give you a luxurious and therapeutic massage!
Contraindications and Precautions
Check with your doctor if you have any condition that may be aggravated by heat. People with these conditions should usually avoid Hot Stone Massage or the heat should be lowered appropriately:
- Heart conditions, high blood pressure
- Conditions causing nerve damage and inability to feel temperature properly, such as diabetes
- Medications that cause temperature sensitivity
- People with restrictions on using a sauna or taking a hot bath
- Raynauds disease, pitted edema, varicose veins, phlebitis or other peripheral vascular conditions
- People with AIDS, Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other conditions causing the immune system to be compromised may be overstressed by the heat
- Anyone in a very weak or debilitated state may be overstressed by the heat
- Hot Stone Massage should not be performed over skin conditions, open sores or areas of inflammation with redness, pain, heat and swelling
- If you have had recent surgery, injury, chemotherapy or radiation treatment or if you have a fever or acute infection you should hold off on getting a Hot Stone massage
- Pregnant women in the first 3 months of pregnancy should not get Hot Stone Massage. After 3 months, massage should be performed only by a therapist trained in both Pregnancy Massage and Hot Stone Massage Therapy if approved by your health care professional.
Hot Stone is one of my absolute favorite types of massage therapy. I especially love LaStone Therapy. If you have never had one, I highly recommend it!
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