When some people think of a hot stone massage, they think of someone stretched on a massage table, with stones placed in the center of their spine. However, there is more to a hot stone massage than this image...much more. Understanding hot stones and their purpose in massage therapy will help to answer most of your questions.
First let's start with the basics...
What is a hot stone, you say? Hot stones are basalt, which is a kind of igneous rock formed by the cooling of a certain type of molten lava. The lava cools and then hardens into a fine-grained crystalline rock (Britannica online). Basalt has many uses but is most commonly crushed for use as an aggregate in construction projects such as a road base, drain fields, floor tiles, building veneer, and monuments (think Roman Theater in Syria).
The use of these basalt stones for healing began in China 2,000 years ago, however, its use in Rome and Greece developed into the modern hydrotherapy practice that we have today. The technique was revitalized in 1993, with massage therapists placing heated stones on specific points of a client’s body, and thus growing it in a popular practice of relaxation therapy.
A licensed massage therapist monitors and controls the temperature of the hot stones, which are housed in a professional stone heater, to ensure a safe and enjoyable stone massage. Our therapists place the stones on a barrier, such as towel, to allow cooling before using it on the client’s skin. The stones are constantly moving throughout the service and are not placed directly from a hot stone heater onto the client’s skin.
The benefits of a hot stone massages are that the heat relaxes the tense muscles, and allows for deeper pressure without the use of a massage therapist’s hands. The stones do the work! As with some techniques, it's not right for everyone. You will need to speak with your doctor if you have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, migraines, autoimmune disease, decreased pain sensitivity, cancer, autoimmune disease, epilepsy, tumors, or metal implants, or are on medication that thins the blood. Hot stones should not be used on pregnant women and children.
Understanding the basic of hot stones and their benefits are beneficial when deciding on the type of massage therapy service that you need. Hot stone massage can be an enjoyable and therapeutic massage therapy experience when you're equipped with “knead knowledge”!