Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy that involves the use of smooth, heated stones. The massage therapist places the hot stones on specific points on your body and may also hold the stones while giving the massage.
The localized heat and weight of the stones warm and relax muscles, allowing the massage therapist to apply deeper pressure to those areas without causing discomfort.
Basics of Hot Stone Massage
The hallmark of hot stone massage is the use of heated stones. Basalt river rocks are typically used because they are smooth (from the river’s current) and retain heat well.
In preparation for the treatment, the massage therapist heats the stones in a professional stone heater until they are within a precise temperature range, typically between 110 and 130 F. To prevent burns, microwaves, ovens, hot plates, and slow cookers should never be used.
While massage therapists often use anatomy to guide the placement of the stones, some therapists will also place stones on points thought to energetically balance the mind and body.
Swedish massage therapy techniques are typically used during the massage, which may include long strokes and kneading and rolling.
People often describe hot stone massage as comforting and deeply relaxing. The warmth is soothing for people who tend to feel chilly. The heat of the stones relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work deeper while using lighter pressure.
People often use hot stone massage for the following conditions:
- Back pain
What to Expect
During the massage, the therapist places stones on specific points on the body. While the points may vary depending on the areas of muscle tension and the client’s health history, the stones are generally placed in the following areas:
- Along both sides of the spine
- In the palms of your hand
- On your legs, abdomen, feet
Small stones may be placed between the toes or on the forehead.
After the stones are placed on your body, it may take a few minutes for the heat to penetrate the sheet or towel so you can discern whether the stones are too hot.
The length of a typical hot stone massage is between 60 and 90 minutes. Hot stone massage has continued to evolve, with many massage therapists and spas offering their own versions of the massage.
To Get the Most out of Your Massage
Use these tips:
- See a massage therapist trained in hot stone massage.
- Be thorough when completing the intake form.
- Don’t eat before your massage.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water before and after your massage.
- Let your therapist know if the stones are too warm or the pressure too intense.
Is It Painful?
The hot stones are smooth and typically several inches long. The stones should be warmed using a professional electric massage stone heater so that the temperature can be controlled.
If the stones are too hot or uncomfortable, be sure to let the massage therapist know immediately. Stones that are too hot can cause burns.
The heat of the stones allows the massage therapist to work on deep tissue if needed. As with any massage, however, massage therapy shouldn’t hurt and you should tell your massage therapist if you feel any pain.
Who Shouldn’t Get a Hot Stone Massage
While hot stone massage is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed massage therapist, it’s not right for everyone. Children and people who are pregnant should avoid hot stone massage.
Consult 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.
Also, check with your doctor if you have had recent surgery or have recent wounds or areas of weakened or inflamed skin.
Whether you’re trying massage for the first time or are already a fan and interested in trying something new, talk with your massage therapist (and healthcare provider) about whether hot stone massage is appropriate for you.
While many people find the warmth deeply relaxing and beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit, you also want to make sure that it’s the right type of bodywork for you—especially if you have a health condition or injury.
Contact us to reserve your hot stone massage today