Using smooth stones heated and placed on points throughout your body, hot stone massage is one of the most popular types of massage therapy today. By applying heat and weight to these points, the stones relax and warm your muscles. As a result, the massage therapist can provide even deeper pressure while you remain comfortable.
How Hot Stone Massage Works
For this type of massage, your massage therapist uses basalt river rocks made smooth from their river’s current. These stones heat well and provide a smooth surface for application to and use on the body. The stones are heated to a specific temperature, usually between 110 and 130F, in a specially-designed heater. Your therapist will never use a microwave, standard oven or other types of cooker for this purpose.
Your massage therapist has a few options for where to place the stones. They may choose to balance the mind and body by placing them on energy points. Or, they can place them elsewhere on the body to provide the specific results you need. In combination with this stone placement, the masseuse typically performs Swedish massage techniques like kneading, long strokes and rolling.
Benefits of Hot Stones
You can expect your hot stone session to feel very relaxing, soothing and comfortable. The stones warm your body while relaxing muscles. The warmth also enables the therapist to work your muscles more deeply with less pressure.
No major research has been conducted into the benefits of this type of massage. Some early studies into the method reflect that it provides some benefits to clients with arthritis, fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes. It also helps people with prenatal depression, hypertension and autoimmune disorders. Massage of many forms helps patients with ageing-specific conditions like dementia and Parkinson’s, too.
Conditions that the use of hot stones may help your massage therapist treat include:
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
What to Expect from Your Massage
Your massage therapist will apply the heated stones on specific points on your body as you recline on a massage table. This placement varies according to where you experience muscle tension and your health conditions. But most of these massages involve placement of stones on points like:
- Both sides of the spine
- Palms of the hands
- Between toes
The stones vary in size according to their purpose and where on the body they will be used. For example, between your toes, the therapist places very small stones.
It can take several minutes for the hot stones to heal your body. They are often placed on top of a sheet or towel draped over your skin. Or, using massage oil on your skin, the therapist holds stones and uses them to apply heat and pressure directly to the muscles while using smooth, gliding movements. They also use Swedish style massage on your legs, back, shoulders and neck. They may work the muscles while the stones are in position on your body or after removing them.
Most of these messages last about an hour to an hour and a half. You can get the most from this time with your massage therapist by following some tips, including:
- Ensuring you work with a trained and licensed massage therapist
- Fully completing your intake form
- Not eating before your session
- Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking water before your appointment and after
- Telling the therapist if the stones feel too warm
Overall, you should feel no discomfort during a hot stone massage. This type of massage therapy is designed to provide soothing relaxation. To meet this need, the stones are only several inches long and have smooth surfaces. They are only warmed in a specially-designed professional massage stone heater, which controls stone temperature. You should always tell your masseuse if you feel uncomfortable or experience any pain.