What is a hot stones massage?
This is a type of massage that involves the use of smooth, heated basalt stones that the massage therapist places on your body. The therapist also uses the stones in the palms of her hands to massage the body.
The penetrating heat and weight of the stones are warm and relax tense muscles so the therapist can work deeper, more quickly.
The stones soothe muscles and expel tension from nerve endings.
How Does It Differ From Other Types of Massage?
The use of the hot stones makes this style unique.
Typically made of basalt, the iron-rich stones retain heat. River rocks are typically used because they have become smooth over time from the river’s current.
To prepare for the treatment, the therapist heats the stones in water, using an electric heater, until they are within a precise temperature range (typically between 120 – 130 F° / 48 – 54°C).
She places the stones on specific points on the back. While the points may vary depending on areas of muscle tension and the client’s health history, they are generally placed along both sides of the spine, in the palms of the hand, on the legs or between the toes.
The localized heat warms and relax the muscles, allowing the massage therapist to apply deeper pressure.
While many therapists use anatomy to guide the placement of the stones, some massage therapists will also place stones on points thought to energetically balance the mind and body.
The Benefits of Hot Stones Massage
The warmth of the hot stones is comforting and deeply relaxing.
Hot stones massage is suited to people who tend to feel chilly. It’s also suited for people who have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist work the muscles using lighter pressure.
Although there’s a lack of research on the benefits of hot stones massage, the therapy is often used for the same conditions as a classic massage:
- Back pain
Is It Painful?
The hot stones are smooth and typically several inches long. The stones are warmed in an electrical heater so the temperature can be controlled. If the stones are too hot, be sure to let the massage therapist know immediately.
What to Expect During a Hot Stones Massage
A hot stone massage may begin with classic massage techniques to prepare the body’s muscle tissue.
The therapist may place two rows of warm stones on the table and cover them with a towel. You would lie down on the table so that the stones are aligned with the muscles running alongside your spine.
Warm stones may also be placed on the legs, abdomen, between your toes, in the palms of your hands, or on your forehead.
The therapist applies massage oil to the body. Holding the stones in the palms, the therapist uses gliding movements to move the stones along the muscles with added pressure and heat. He or she will also use classic massage movements on the back, legs, neck, and shoulders while the stones are in place or after they have been removed.
The length of a typical hot stone massage is between 60 and 90 minutes.
Who Shouldn’t Get a Hot Stones Massage?
In general, hot stone massage should not be done on anyone who should not receive standard massage therapy.
Check with your doctor before getting hot stone massage, if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, decreased pain sensitivity, recent wounds, areas of weakened or inflamed skin, tumors, metal implants, or are on medication that thins the blood,
Also check with your doctor if you have had recent chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Pregnant women and children should avoid hot stone massage.
Some additional tips on making the most out of your massage
- Don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage.
- Let your therapist know if the stones are too warm or the pressure is too intense.
- If it’s your first time, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for information purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your eating habits.