Hot Stone Massage
How can hot stone massage nourish your soul?
Hot stone massage is a variation of Swedish massage that involves the use of smooth, heated stones during the therapy. Typically using a type of volcanic rock, called basalt, 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. This enhances the therapeutic effects of manipulation by the therapist.
Hot stone massage is believed to have its roots in a number of ancient health traditions. 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, 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, 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.
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.
One meta-analysis has shown that massage therapy may be an effective treatment 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.
Heat therapy 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
- 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. Massage oils will also be applied to your skin, and the therapist may apply Swedish massage techniques 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.