hot stone massageWhen your muscles are tight, your back feels sore or your joints ache, a massage can restore your vitality, comfort and circulation. The only question is, which treatment is right for you?

In general, massage therapy is associated with relaxation but different techniques apply varying degrees of pressure. A hot stone massage involves heated stones placed on various parts of the body to relax the muscles and deliver more pressure. If you’re considering this treatment, learn what to expect.

What Is a Hot Stone Massage?

Hot stones apply targeted warmth to loosen up the muscles, allowing the massage therapist to deliver deeper pressure and reduce any tension. The lower back, abdomen, feet, palms and chest are common locations for hot stones. Basalt, a volcanic stone with a higher iron content, is typically used for its ability to draw in more heat.

Hot stone massage originated in India roughly 5,000 years ago, before it spread to Japan and China, as well as Native American and Native Hawaiian tribes. Beyond relaxation, application of heat to the abdominal region was believed to improve digestion, organ performance and circulation. Modern versions of this treatment emerged during the mid-1990s and have since continued to grow in popularity.

What to Expect During a Hot Stone Massage

A massage therapist starts with smooth, flat basalt stones about the size of an egg each. These stones are heated with water to anywhere between 100 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The therapist will check the temperature of the stones before applying them to your skin.

Placement is often based on areas of concern or tension. For instance to release tension in the back, stones may be placed on the upper and lower portions or moved in a kneading motion over your muscles. Other common locations include the stomach, chest, face, feet and palms.

The massage therapist may also apply lotion to your skin to better guide the stones, have them rest directly on your skin or place a towel down before adding the stones on top. In all cases, let your massage therapist know if the stones feel too hot.

To anticipate the heat, make sure you’re properly hydrated before your appointment and avoid eating a large meal earlier in the day. Your massage therapist may ask you about any health issues or skin conditions prior to your session.

Due to these factors, a hot stone massage is not ideal for individuals with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Open or recent wounds
  • Skin inflammation
  • Osteoporosis
  • A history of fractures
  • A blood clotting condition
  • A metal implant

Patients who are pregnant, use blood thinners or recently underwent surgery should also avoid this treatment.

Benefits of a Hot Stone Massage

By warming the muscles and allowing for deeper pressure, a hot stone massage can:

  • Improve blood flow, which can lessen tension and pain while increasing range of motion and joint flexibility
  • Relieve stress and improve relaxation
  • Reduce inflammation, which can then boost your immune system
  • Indirectly improve sleep
  • Provide a solution for managing trigger points and chronic pain

Are you interested in exploring the benefits of hot stone massage? Schedule an appointment with Catherine & Company today!