Smooth, flat, and heated rocks are placed at key points throughout the body as the therapist works in fluid motions rolling the oiled stones over the skin, acting as a warm and comforting extension of their hands. The heat allows greater muscle relaxation, decreases muscle spams and increases range of motion. Most importantly it is extremely relaxing and reduces pain.
Hot stone therapy can be incorporated into any massage treatment, though may require a specific therapist.
In preparation for the treatment, the massage therapist heats the stones in a professional stone heater until they are within a precise temperature range, typically between 110 and 130 F.
Swedish massage therapy techniques are typically used during the massage, which may include long strokes and kneading and rolling.
What is a hot stone massage good for?
Hot stone massage therapy helps melt away tension, ease muscle stiffness, and increase circulation and metabolism. Hot stones, when coupled with massage, also help to expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body.
The localized heat and weight of the stones warm and relax muscles, allowing the massage therapist to apply deeper pressure to those areas without causing discomfort.
What to Expect
During the massage, the therapist places stones on specific points on the body. While the points may vary depending on the areas of muscle tension and the client’s health history, the stones are generally placed in the following areas:
- Along both sides of the spine
- In the palms of your hand
- On your legs, abdomen, feet
Small stones may be placed between the toes or on the forehead.
After the stones are placed on your body, it may take a few minutes for the heat to penetrate the sheet or towel so you can discern whether the stones are too hot.
The therapist applies massage oil to the skin. Holding stones in both hands, the therapist uses gliding movements to move the stones along the muscles. The therapist uses Swedish massage techniques on the back, legs, neck, and shoulders while the stones are in place or after they have been removed.
Is It Painful?
The hot stones are smooth and typically several inches long. The stones are warmed using a professional electric massage stone heater so that the temperature can be controlled.
If the stones are too hot or uncomfortable, be sure to let the massage therapist know immediately.
The heat of the stones allows the massage therapist to work on deep tissue if needed. As with any massage, however, massage therapy shouldn’t hurt and you should tell your massage therapist if you feel any pain.
Who Shouldn’t Get a Hot Stone Massage?
While hot stone massage is generally considered safe, it’s not right for everyone. Consult your doctor if you have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, migraines, autoimmune disease, decreased pain sensitivity, cancer, autoimmune disease, epilepsy, tumours, or metal implants, or are on medication that thins the blood.
Also, check with your doctor if you have had recent surgery or have recent wounds or areas of weakened or inflamed skin.
Pregnant women and children should avoid hot stone massage.