Hot Stone Massage

Hot Stone Massage

Relaxing treatment with the added warmth of heated stones

How can hot stone massage nourish you? 

Hot stone massage is a variation of Swedish massage[1] that involves the use of smooth, heated stones during the therapy. Typically using a type of volcanic rock, called basalt[2], the massage therapist will either place the hot stones on specific parts of the body or move them while performing the massage. The purpose of the localised heat and weight from the stones is to warm and relax the muscles[3. This enhances the therapeutic effects of manipulation[4] by the therapist.

Hot stone massage is believed to have its roots in a number of ancient health traditions[5]. Many believe that this therapy originated from India’s holistic health system, “Ayurveda,” where smooth stones were collected from riverbeds and used in healing and massage. 

Ancient Japanese and Chinese practices have also used warm stones to improve the functioning of internal organ systems. Similarly, in Native America and Hawaii[6], healing practices involving hot stones have been used for many years.  

Modern day hot stone massage therapy was ‘re-discovered’ in 1993 by a massage therapist named Mary Nelson. It has since become a popular style of therapy that is used practice around the world.    

Choosing a qualified practitioner who is registered with a professional association, such as Massage & Myotherapy Australia[7], is important to ensure the highest standard of treatment. All massage practitioners who are members of this national organisation have formal qualifications and are obliged to adhere to a Code of Ethics.  

Benefits of hot stone massage

A wider evidence base is needed on the clinical benefits of hot stone massage, although one study involving patients with kidney failure has shown that this therapy may assist in improving sleep quality[8]

There is also evidence to suggest that both heat and pressure, the two techniques used in hot stone massage, may offer both therapeutic and restorative benefits for the body[9]

One meta-analysis has shown that massage therapy may be an effective treatment[10] option for pain and may assist in improving anxiety and health-related quality of life. Moreover, it has also been suggested to reduce stress and promote mental health[11]

Heat therapy[12] is another widely accepted technique that may assist in decreasing joint stiffness, reducing pain, relieving muscle spasms and assist in healing by increasing blood flow to the affected area. 

Hot stone massage may assist in relieving symptoms related to: 

Circulation and cardiovascular conditions Insomnia and sleep disorders Joint issues Mental health Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps Pain relief Relaxation Stress and tension

What to expect from a hot stone massage session

A hot stone massage typically lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. The therapist will heat the stones to a therapeutic temperature prior to your treatment. These will then be placed on the specific parts of your body, providing a targeted release of specific muscles.[13] Massage oils will also be applied to your skin, and the therapist may apply Swedish massage techniques[14] such as kneading, long, flowing strokes or deep circular motions, to the different parts of the body. 

To get the most benefit from your massage, it is recommended that you refrain from eating prior to your session and stay hydrated by drinking both before and after your massage. During your session, maintain open lines of communication with your therapist and let them know if the temperature of the stones is uncomfortable or the pressure of the massage is too intense. 

Hot stone massage is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed massage therapist. 

As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing hot stone massage. If you have an injury, health issue, or any concerns at all, do advise your therapist who will be happy to address these and make sure the session is personalised to your individual requirements.


  1. Hot Stone |
  2. Five benefits of hot stone massage therapy |
  3. Moist Heat Physical Therapy Modality | verywellhealth
  4. A Step-By-Step Guide To The Hot Stone Massage | Everyday Health
  5. The History of Hot Stone Massage Therapy |
  6. Stone massage | Wikipedia
  7. Why use a qualified practitioner |
  8. Impact of hot stone massage therapy on sleep quality in patients on maintenance hemodialysis | PMC
  9. 4 Benefits of Regular Massage Therapy |
  10. The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part I, Patients Experiencing Pain in the General Population | PMC
  11. The effect of massage therapy on occupational stress of Intensive Care Unit nurses | PMC
  12. Heat Therapy |
  13. What is Hot Stone Massage Therapy? |
  14. What Are the Different Types of Massages? |

Frequently asked questions

Hot stone massage is a variation of Swedish massage that incorporates the use of smooth, heated basalt stones. These stones are either placed on specific areas of the body or used by the therapist during the massage to enhance muscle relaxation and therapeutic effects.

Hot stones are typically placed on specific points of the body, such as the back, hands, or between the toes. The therapist may also use the stones as an extension of their hands, incorporating them into massage strokes to provide warmth and weight for deeper muscle relaxation.

Basalt stones, often of volcanic origin, are commonly used in hot stone massage due to their ability to retain heat. These smooth stones provide a soothing and grounding effect during the massage, helping to warm and relax the muscles.

Hot stone massage aims to enhance muscle relaxation, promote stress relief, and improve overall well-being. The combination of heat and massage techniques can increase blood circulation, ease muscle tension, and contribute to a deeply relaxing experience.

Hot stone massage may not be suitable for individuals with certain conditions, such as pregnancy, cardiovascular issues, or sensitivity to heat. It's important to inform your massage therapist about any health concerns to ensure a safe and tailored experience.

Hot stone massage has historical roots in various ancient health traditions, including Ayurveda in India, Japanese and Chinese practices, as well as Native American and Hawaiian healing practices. The use of heated stones for therapeutic purposes has been present in these cultures for centuries.
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