What is a Hot Stone Massage?
Dating back more than 2,000 years, hot stone massage is a popular complementary therapy practised across the globe for therapeutic and healing purposes. During a hot stone massage, flat stones are heated and then placed across the spine, stomach, chest or face.
Stones typically come from volcanic rock. Depending on their temperature, a towel may be put in place to prevent burns to the skin. This treatment is sometimes followed by the application of cold stones to calm the skin and relax blood vessels.
Who invented Hot Stone therapy?
Hot Stone Massage is believed to have originated in ancient China, where heated stones were applied to improve internal organ function and assist with healing. However, it also has links with Ayurvedic (Indian), Native American, Hawaiian and Japanese massage traditions.
It is now recognised by therapists and healers across the globe, with hot stones being incorporated into manicures, facials, craniosacral healing and Deep Tissue Massage.
The stones used are typically basalt; a dark, fine-grained volcanic rock that has been smoothed by the river or sea. This type of stone is rich in iron, so retain heat for a long period of time. The warmth of the stone, typically applied with soothing oil, allows therapists to apply a deep pressure to tight muscles.
What are the benefits of Hot Stone Massage?
While hot stone massage has been primarily used to relieve muscle tension and pain, studies suggest that it may also be effective in:
- Improving cardiovascular function
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Promoting restful sleep
- Helping to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
A study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management looked at the impact of hot stones on people suffering from of cancer. It is believed to have helped relieve pain, stress and nausea in those with even severe symptoms.
Expert vs. At Home Hot Stone Massage
Although kits are available for at-home use, a professional in-salon or at-home therapist is trained to ensure the stones reach the optimal temperature without causing damage to the skin. Without due care, burns can occur when stones are left on bare skin, placed underneath the body, or used on children or the elderly.
While most massage schools and courses cover the use of hot stones, not all are comprehensive enough to ensure clients avoid injury or harm, so is important to ensure the therapists offering this treatment are sufficiently trained.
Who should have a Hot Stone Massage?
Hot Stone Massage has been shown to be effective for a wide range of therapeutic uses. It is relaxing enough to provide gentle support and release from everyday issues such as muscle tension, poor sleep and stress, and can make a nice change from a Relaxing Massage.
If you are considering hot stone massage for something more serious, such as a long-term health condition, it is advisable to consult a doctor before seeking treatment.