What is a hot stone massage and why is it so popular? Is it an effective way of de-stressing and relaxation? Here we find out more:
A hot stone massage is a massage technique that involves the use of smooth, flat, and heated rocks placed at key points on the body. Unusual as it may seem, the heat from the stones can actually be both deeply relaxing and can help warm up tight muscles. Combining placement of hot stones with a full body massage provides a very healing and effective experience. The hot stones also expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body.
Historically, hot stones warmed by fire were used by Native Americans to treat aching muscles, but the modern day hot stone massage is generally credited to Mary Nelson. She trademarked her style of hot stone massage, called LaStone Therapy, which has a Native American spiritual component and requires training and certification.
How does the session go? At your local spa or massage therapy place, the massage therapist sanitizes the stones first and heats them in a bath of 120 to 150 degrees. The stones themselves are usually basalt, a black volcanic rock that absorbs and retains heat well.
The the massage starts with you facing down while the therapist starts working on your back. First, the therapist warms up the body with traditional Swedish massage, then massages you while holding a heated stone. As the stone cools, the therapist replaces it with another. The therapist uses many stones of various shapes and sizes, depending on the muscle size and the body part.
The therapist might also leave heated stones in specific points along your spine, in the palms of your hand, on your belly, or even between your toes to improve the flow of energy in your body. Be sure, however, to speak up if the stones are too warm or if the pressure is too intense. And you can always ask them to stop using the stones if you don’t like how it feels.
A hot stone massage is more expensive than a basic Swedish massage because it requires more preparation and clean-up and usually runs longer. However, it is definitely worth it and you should try it at least once!