Hot stone massage incorporates heated stones as part of the therapy. The therapist will uses the smooth stones as either an extension of their hands or by placing them on the body. The stones are typically very smooth-surfaced basalt stones, in which the high iron content in basalt helps the stones retain heat during the massage. The heat can be both deeply relaxing and help to warm up tight muscles that will allow the therapist to work more deeply, more quickly and with less pressure.
What Happens During a Hot Stone Massage?
The heat from the stones helps your muscles relax, allowing the massage therapist to manipulate your deep tissues more effectively. Overly tense muscles can hinder the massage procedure, so if your muscles are extremely tight or stiff, the heated stones may provide the extra relaxation you need for the massage to be beneficial in releasing tension and easing sore muscles.
While all types of massage can help relieve pain caused by tense muscles, stiff joints or injuries, a hot stone massage may provide greater relief due to the intense nature of the massage. Because the hot stones allow the massage therapist to penetrate deeper, you may find that a hot stone massage leaves you feeling physically better than a Swedish or deep-tissue massage that does not incorporate heat. It is important to let your massage therapist know if you feel any discomfort from the heated stones. Pain or discomfort during the massage process can cause more harm than good after the massage is over.
Typically, a massage therapist allows the heated stones to rest on trigger points in your body before beginning the actual massage. As the heat from the stones penetrates into your deeper body tissues, your blood vessels open, resulting in improved circulation. Poor circulation can lead to fatigue, which tenses the muscles, and a buildup of fluid and lactic acid in the muscles. Increased circulation delivers more oxygen to the muscles, which can help ease aches and pains.
Massage therapy can result in mental benefits as well as physical ones in many people. You may find that the relaxation afforded to you through a hot stone massage helps ease some of your mental stress and tension. A hot stone massage may also help you combat some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression. While massage therapy is not a substitute for traditional medical or psychiatric care, it can be an integral part of your treatment plan.
Who Shouldn’t Get Hot Stone Massage?
Hot Stone massage is not appropriate if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or are on medication that thins your blood. You shouldn’t get a hot stone massage if you are pregnant or have a sunburn. You also may want to reconsider if you are menopausal, as it may trigger a hot flash.