What is Hot Stone Massage?
A hot stone massage is a form of massage therapy in which a trained therapist uses heated stones to massage your body, including placing stones on key points of the spine and muscles for best results. This technique of using heated stones dates back hundreds of years and can be an excellent way to loosen up the muscles so that the massage technique can be more penetrative to sore or inflamed muscles.
Traditionally, the stones used in such a massage technique are black volcanic rocks (basalt) that range from small to large and tend to be naturally smoothed by the movements of the river or seawater. You can typically find hot stone massages as another option at a spa, but given the delicate and specialized nature of this massage, it is important to find a professional massage therapist who has been trained in this style.
Hot Stone Massage Technique
The hot stone massage technique involves the following:
- Step 1: During a hot stone massage, your massage therapist will typically submerge and heat the stones in water, ranging from 110-150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Step 2: To begin the massage, you will be on your stomach and a traditional Swedish massage will be given for a brief period, perhaps 5-10 minutes.
- Step 3: Following this, the therapist will remove the heated stones from the water and begin massaging them into your skin, using larger stones for larger muscle groups, and smaller stones for more intricate areas of the back and body.
- Step 4: As the stones cool, the therapist may either set the stones aside or place them in precise places on your spine, back, belly, hands, or toes to encourage circulation and greater relaxation within the body.
- Step 5: This may be the end of some hot stone massages, while others will involve the slow removal of the stones, accompanied by a more traditional massage on the loosened and relaxed muscles.
How to Make the Most Out of Hot Stone Massage
- Use stones to massage rather than your hands. You can do this by moving the stones gently over tension areas. The pressure exerted by the stones may be quite strong, but since the participant’s muscles are sufficiently relaxed by the heating procedure, this process should be practically painless.
- Combine the hot stones with another massage technique. You can give a try at Swedish massage or deep tissue massage. This helps you reap the greatest benefits from the experience.
- Switch between hot stones and cold marble stones. Most people find that after a period of time, they can’t feel the difference in the temperature change to the cooler stones. This process is usually recommended for soothing injuries that are a result of painful swelling or inflammation.
Hot Stone Massage Benefits
There are quite a few benefits of hot stone massage, including the following:
- Relief from muscle tension
- Relief from stress and anxiety
- Helps during cancer therapy
- Boosted immunity
- Better sleep
- Boosted circulation
- Better mental health
Let us discuss them in detail below.
By increasing circulation and oxygenation of muscles, this massage technique will allow your muscles to relax, relieving the tension that has built up and lessening the risk of injury.
Stress and Anxiety
If you suffer from chronically high levels of stress hormones, the soothing nature of these specialty massages can balance the metabolism and calm the mind, helping to shed your stress and worry.
Many people struggle to find restful sleep because of tension and discomfort; a massage can leave your muscles relaxed and your mind clear, leading to undisturbed and rejuvenating your sleep at night.
Some chronic diseases can be remedied with regular hot stone massages, especially those linked to the nervous and muscular system, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Aids During Cancer Therapy
The pain associated with cancer can often be unbearable, and difficult to reduce, even with medication. Healing techniques like reiki, hot stone massage, and aromatherapy can help relieve pain and anxiety, making the recovery process simpler for cancer patients.
By decreasing the arginine-vasopressin levels, which is blood pressure and water retention regulating hormone in the body, this massage also helps in improving the immune system’s health.
The heat from the stones causes your heart rate to increase and your blood vessels to dilate, thereby promoting the blood flow. This also means better oxygenation to your various organ systems and more resources being delivered to those parts of the body that need them most.
Massage can be very soothing for the mental health of a person as it helps in reducing stress. It also helps in treating anxiety, depression, and induces a feeling of relaxation, both in the mind and the body.
Hot Stone Massage Side Effects
Hot stone massage can have a few side effects, these include:
- Skin discomfort: Pressure and temperature sensitivities are different for every person, so there may be an adjustment period to the massage, and it can be uncomfortable. Hot stones can also burn the skin, so be sure to communicate with your massage therapist.
- Other: Due to the effects of this massage, some people are warned not to undergo it, such as those with cancerous tumors, diabetes, blood clots, internal bleeding, pregnancy, and certain heart conditions.