What is Hot Stone Massage, How it Works and Its Benefits

The hot stone massage has become quite popular over the years. Many people who go to a spa for treatment opt for a hot stone massage as it helps them release stress and relax. It is a great way of pampering yourself, and also boosts your overall health and wellbeing.

The massage draws its name from the hot stones that are placed on your back while you lie face down on the massage table. Some massage therapists specialize in performing hot stone massage and they know exactly how to use the stones to manipulate different tissues and nerves in the body.

The way it is portrayed, and its current popularity, might make it seem as though the hot stone massage is a fairly new technique. However, it has been around for a long time. Hot stone massage has been used as a special treatment for several decades.

The purpose of this type of massage is to treat different health issues people suffer from. Hence, the scope of the hot stone massage goes beyond simply providing relaxation and comfort.

As mentioned earlier, the client lies on his/her stomach while the massage therapist places warm, flat stones on different parts of the body. The idea behind this approach is to transfer the heat from the stones to the body. It is this heat that does most of the work.

Sometimes, the massage therapists move the stones around on your back and legs, and use them to massage the body. Nevertheless, hot stone massage has proven to be an effective form of massage for treating different health conditions and could even help you release stress. The heat soothes aching and tired muscles, making you feel much better after the massage.

The Origin of the Hot Stone Massage

Warm stones have been used for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years. Though there are no written records dating before the last century, it is widely accepted and believed that warm stones were used to massage the body during ancient times as well.

Native Americans, for example, used to heat up rocks on a fire and then place them on the body. According to their beliefs, this was the best way of curing disease and illness. This ritual is the basis for the hot stone massage. The modern hot stone massage also incorporates the spirituality of the Native Americans to a certain degree.

As far as the origin of the hot stone massage is concerned, it is said that Native groups which were settled in Arizona came up with it. Arizona was one of the first states in the US where the use of alternative care really took off. The trademarked LaStone treatment, a form of hot stone massage, was developed by an Arizonian.

How Hot Stone Massage Works

As mentioned above, flat rocks are used for this type of massage. They are heated up and then placed on different parts of the body. Generally, stones made from basalt are used for hot stone massages. This is because basalt is known to retain heat for a long period of time.

Moreover, stones and rocks retrieved from rivers are also considered to be ideal for hot stone massage. They are smooth and soft, which reduces the risk of scratches and abrasions on your skin. A massage therapist uses several types of stones when performing a hot stone massage.

The massage therapist has to decide which stone to use on which part of the body. For instance, the stones used on the back would be different than those placed on the palms. To heat the stones, the therapist first dips them in water and then heats them up using a special machine.

Usually, a thermo-regulated electronic machine is used to ensure that the stones are heated to a specific temperature. Otherwise, they might either burn the skin or have no effect. The stones then carry out the purpose which the therapist might otherwise use his/her hands for, i.e. work on the different muscles in the body.

Usually, the massage therapist applies oil on your body before placing the stones. However, this is not compulsory. In many cases, the massage therapist would place the stones directly on your skin.

Sometimes, a sheet is placed before putting the stones on the client’s body. The purpose is to get the heat to deep parts of the body. The heat loosens the muscles of the body and allows you to relax. After you have calmed down, performing the massage becomes much easier.

The Numerous Benefits of Hot Stone Treatment

The heat from the stones enables the muscles of the body that are aching and/or sore to feel relaxed. This is just one of the benefits of a hot stone massage. Let’s go over some of the other possible benefits:

  • Improves circulation and blood flow within the body and could prevent many major and minor health problems.
  • Reduces pain and discomfort during the massage. Even a deep tissue massage becomes relatively painless after the hot stones have been placed on your body.
  • Alleviates stress and enhances your mental clarity. This could help treat mental disorders and might also improve memory and focus.
  • Regulates symptoms associated with painful conditions, especially arthritis.
  • Calms the nerves and ensures optimum functioning of the nervous system.

Because of the numerous benefits provided by the hot stone massage, demand for it is increasing. If you want to specialize in hot stone massage, there is a career to be made in it as well.

Precautions to Take When Conducting Hot Stone Massage

There are certain things you need to keep in mind when performing a hot stone massage. Firstly, you need to understand that this type of massage cannot be performed on everybody. It is a good idea to obtain the approval of a doctor before you start the massage.

Special care should be taken when administering it to pregnant women. Moreover, you need to ensure that the stones don’t get too hot and end up scalding the skin.

The hot stone massage is one of the most popular and effective types of massage, one which you will benefit learning more about, and one that will certainly make you a more valuable and demanded massage therapist.

If you are in the market for hot stones to use during your massage, have a look at our recommended online store here, which also give you a good discount on your purchase.

Contact the top schools near you and learn about their curriculum and how much they focus on hot stone massage. Requesting information is 100% free when you use our database.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Types of Massage Techniques

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