Recently, a long-term client came in for a Holistic Massage, and while he waited we chatted about our other, newer, therapies. He mentioned that he thought that Hot Stone Massage sounded awful – the idea of having “a bunch of rocks dumped on you to warm you up – why not just go home to a hot water bottle!”. It turned out that he thought that Hot Stone Massage didn’t involve any massage – that it was the application of stones, without any intervention or touch from the therapist. As this is not the case, I thought we’d better clear the air, and explain a little more about Hot Stone Massage.
A Hot Stone Massage does involve the application of warmed stones to the body. These are basalt stones (a form of volcanic rock that holds heat for a long time) that are pre-heated to about 60°C in a water bath and applied by the therapist as required. These stones will warm where they touch; increasing muscular relaxation, promoting lymph flow and circulation (assisting cell and muscle waste expulsion), and increasing overall comfort during the massage treatment.
While stones are resting on areas not being worked on, the therapist will concentrate on a previously-warmed area of the body. The therapist will usually combine Swedish and Holistic Massage styles and techniques during a hot stone massage, and will often use fresh hot stones to massage an area as they reach it. This allows a deeper penetration of heat into specific muscle areas, and can lead to a greater reduction in tension than Swedish Massage alone can achieve.
For those amongst you who are passionate that massage be therapeutic, it is worth noting that Hot Stone Massage is able to:
- promote the lengthening of muscles and fascia
- increase lymph drainage from the body
- alleviate sinus pain or congestion in non-inflammatory cases
- alleviate or reduce muscular spasms and cramps
- increase circulation and nutrient delivery
- promote the parasympathetic system into self-rejuvenation
- reduce the pain of menstrual cramping and discomfort
- increase the body’s ability to fight infection, by flushing the lymphatic system
And for those of you with a lot of tension, Hot Stone Massage can be done in conjunction with Deep Tissue Massage – the heat of the stones increasing the depth that the therapist is able to penetrate (particularly in hard to reach places like underneath shoulder blades!).
For those amongst you who like indulgence, take a moment to imaging the luxury of having stones placed between your toes, behind your hips, and under your palms, before having a full facial (including hot stone face and neck massage); and then more hot stones being used with a full-body Aromatherapy Massage, ending with your back, shoulders, and neck. It is pure bliss.