Benefits of Hot Stones
The stones most commonly used in a hot stone massage are basalt (volcanic) rocks or river rocks. These iron-rich rocks hold onto heat for a longer time than most other rocks, and they slowly release the heat into your body. Additionally, their weight puts the perfect amount of pressure on key parts of your body to bring timely relief to your aching muscles and knotted up pressure points.
Advantages of a Hot Stone Massage
A hot stone massage provides even more benefits than you receive from the stones alone. As the stones open up your blood vessels, that improves circulation, and by extension when your massage therapist begins rubbing your muscles, they receive more oxygen than they would with just traditional massage methods. On top of that, you also receive all the benefits you normally get from Swedish massage including pain relief, stress reduction, and increased range of motion in your joints.
What’s Involved With a Hot Stone Massage
Typically, the process starts with the massage therapist placing stones in strategic places on your body. If you start on your stomach, that generally involves stones along your spine, on the backs of your arms or legs, in the palms of your upturned hands, or along your neck. If you’re comfortable on your back, the massage therapist may also put hot stones on your stomach and similar areas. Then, after a therapeutic amount of time, they remove the stones and begin to massage your muscles with long, deliberate strokes.
Note that you should always feel comfortable talking to your massage therapist if something isn’t working for you. Just as you should tell a massage therapist if you want more or less pressure, you should also let them know if the stones feel too hot. Typically, the stones are warmed to between 100 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, but they may be cooler than that if you’re getting a facial massage.
Therapeutic Hot Stones — Rooted in History
The use of hot stones during massages or for other healing purposes has been happening for thousands of years. Massage Magazine reports that hot stones were used in ancient cultures from around the world, including in Egypt, India, South America, and Africa, but this tradition didn’t become popular in the United States until the early 1990s. Since then, the practice has evolved and become more popular. In traditional use, the stones were likely heated in the embers of an old fire, but now, they are put in a hot stone heater which is similar to a crock pot. This allows your massage therapist to get the stones to the ideal temperature.