Hot Stone Massage: Mother Earth Thinks You Look Tense!
While the thought of placing black volcanic rocks on bare skin may seem like a torture scene from the next ill-advised Saw sequel, it is actually a soothing form of massage that dates all the way back to the Native Americans. Apparently it’s a great way to release tension, but is it worth the extra dough?
What is it?
Similar to hot Sharon Stone massage, hot stone massage is a specialty massage meant to relax and release tension from tightened muscles. The technique involves placing smooth heated stones, often basalt (black volcanic rocks), on key points of the body, which in turn loosen tense muscles. The therapist may also use a stone in his or her hand to massage you with; while this may sound like bludgeoning, trust me, it’s not.
Generally, the type of rocks used should be rich in iron (like basalt), so that they can retain a decent amount of heat. Also, the smoothness of the rock is crucial, for obvious reasons, which is why riverbed rocks work well because of the river currents constantly weathering their jagged edges. Before your massage, the stones are sanitized (or should be) and heated in 120 to 150 degree water. To start, the therapist will most likely begin by applying techniques of standard Swedish massage and then slowly incorporate the stones which, with the application of massage oil, will glide smoothly on the skin.
While massaging you with a stone in hand, the therapist may also choose to place some of the heated stones on points along your spine, in the palms of your hands, in between your toes, or on your stomach. This is done to improve the flow of circulation and to calm the nervous system. Also the applied heat relaxes the muscles so that the therapist can use deeper pressure, if necessary. As well as heated stones, cool marble stones may be used if there is a sign of inflammation in the muscles.
Who needs it?
The most common reason why people get hot stone massage is because they enjoy the comforting sensation the stones bring. If you feel cold a lot or have perpetually icy hands and feet, then hot stone massage can do wonders for your circulation. Also, hot stone massage is a great way to get a massage if you prefer lighter techniques. That is to say, if you are at all squeamish about the quasi-manhandling of deep-tissue massage, hot stone massage may be better suited for you.
Otherwise, some of the more common muscle ailments that hot stone massage aims to assuage are back pain and osteoarthritis. Other unpleasant and more mental health conditions, such as insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression can benefit from the womb-like state that hot stone massage provides.
The most obvious benefits are that of relaxation. The applied heat provides more of a hypnotic effect than a standard Swedish massage and therefore helps to rebalance the body and the mind. And even if that does sound like cult-talk, it sounds like extremely pleasurable cult-talk. On top of the relaxation aspects, hot stone massage is a healthy way to keep your muscles loose and improve your overall blood circulation.
As well as that, the heated stones help muscles release quicker than in traditional massage. That means you’re more likely to relax quicker, which in turn, means they’re less likely to play the horrible Muzak stylings of soft rock legends to calm your nerves. Everybody wins. A client also has the option of light, medium, or deep pressure, which means the massage can be customized in an instant at the client’s request.
Because the stones are heated, you may be finicky about the temperature at times, seeing as how everyone’s body responds differently to heat. However, if you feel a stone is too hot, all you have to do is tell the therapist and they’ll adjust the temperature for you. Otherwise, the stones are thoroughly smoothed over, so they should not cause any discomfort.
There are other general precautions to take, considering that this technique creates a heating effect on the body through the skin and muscles. Therefore, hot stone massage is not recommended for those who are prone to blood clots, suffer from skin disease or rash, have open wounds, or have just undergone surgery or chemotherapy.
Lastly, hot stone massage is usually a little more expensive than your standard Swedish massage, mainly because it requires more preparation and longer clean-up. The cheaper ones may cost a little under 0 (though be mindful, you get what you pay for), but on average they cost around 0, in some cases higher.
Kyle Donley is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a medical spa or more personal care articles at Yodle Consumer Guide. Hot Stone Massage: Mother Earth Thinks You Look Tense!