What is a Hot Stone Massage?
Hot stone massage is a variation on classic massage therapy. Heated smooth, flat stones are placed on key points on the body. The massage therapist may also hold the stones and use them to massage certain areas of the body.
The use of hot stones for healing dates back to ancient times. Both verbal and written history confirm the Chinese used heated stones more than 2,000 years ago as a means of improving the function of internal organs. Stones were also used for healing work in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Egypt and India.These traditions included laying stones in patterns on the body, carrying or wearing stones for health and protection, using stones for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and for ceremonial uses, such as sweat lodges and medicine wheels. The Romans also used stones in saunas and combined the effects of hot immersion baths with the cooling effects of marble stone and cold pools.
The hot stones are usually made of basalt, a type of rock that is rich in iron, so they retain heat. River rocks are normally used because they are smooth – they are smoothed over time by the river current.
The stones are immersed in water and heated in an electric heater until they are within a certain temperature range. The placement of the stones is usually at specific points on the back, in the palms of the hand, or between the toes but may vary depending on the client’s condition.
The heat of the stones warm and relax the muscles, which allows the therapist to apply deeper pressure, if desired. The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system. Some massage therapists place stones on points that are thought to be energy centers of the body to rebalance the body and mind.
Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
A common question people have is whether to get hot stone massage vs Swedish massage or a regular massage. Some people find the warmth of the hot stones to be comforting and get this type of massage for relaxation.
Hot stone massage is suited to people who tend to feel chilly or who have cold feet. It’s also suited for people who have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work the muscles without using deep pressure. People also get hot stone massage for a variety of health conditions: