Stress is an unavoidable part of modern life and we are lucky to have different ways to counterbalance its negative effects. A hot stone massage (also called hot stone therapy) is a specialty treatment found in luxurious spas that involves the use of heated smooth and flat stones. They are generally made of basalt, which is a volcanic rock with heat-retaining properties. The therapy is a revival of an ancient technique meant to help individuals rediscover relaxation and deep calmness. Hot stone massage is considered one of the best types of massages available. Here is a look at how the therapy is carried out and the benefits you will enjoy from receiving one.
What Happens During a Hot Stone Massage?
A therapist sterilizes and heats stones of different sizes (depending on where they will be placed on your body) up to 120°-130°F in a water bath. They will most likely start by preparing your muscles with a traditional Swedish massage before placing the stones. The therapist then places the stones along different acupressure points. The warmth helps relax muscles and allows deeper pressure to be applied during the session.
By using a combination of techniques and strokes, along with massage oil, the therapist massages the neck, arms, back and legs, both with and without stones. They may also use cold stones during the session to balance the heat, reduce inflammation and soothe skin.
Benefits of a Hot Stone Massage
- Increased Blood Flow
Possibly the best reason to get a hot stone massage is that it improves blood flow to your muscles, which further reduces tension, soreness and pain. Simply placing the stones on body parts such as the back and spine opens blood vessels and increases blood circulation.
- Reduce Stress
There is something about paired massage and heat that reduces stress levels. Regular massage can lower overall stress by allowing an individual to centre themselves and become aware of their body and its needs. Since the general atmosphere offered by massages provides sensory cues to the body, you release stress and slip into a more flexible and therapeutic state.
- Pain Relief
Any massage can help relieve pain caused by injuries, stiff joints and tense muscles. But a hot stone massage offers even greater relief because of its intense nature. Since the hot stones allow the therapist to penetrate deeper than a regular massage, it will leave you feeling better than a deep tissue or even a regular Swedish massage, both of which are performed without heat. However, be sure to tell your therapist if the pressure is too much or the stones are too hot. Any discomfort or pain can cause more harm than good.
- Better Sleep
If you suffer from insomnia, a hot stone massage can help you feel more relaxed, as well as fall asleep faster and deeper. Better sleep will let you wake up feeling more energetic and relaxed.
- Improved Flexibility
Stiff joints make it difficult to move and perform day-to-day activities. A hot stone massage can help loosen tight joints and muscles. If you have an injury that has resulted in tight joints, placing hot stones around the area can relieve the pain. With regular therapy, pain will subside, allowing you to move around more easily.
Is It the Right Choice for Me?
Steer clear of hot stone therapy if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, varicose veins, recent wounds, inflamed or weakened skin, decreased pain sensitivity, metal implants, tumours, surgery or radiation, chemotherapy or if you are on a blood thinner. Also, let your therapist know if you think you are pregnant. If you suffer from any serious medical condition, you should get a letter from your doctor confirming that this kind of massage is suitable. If you have any of the above-mentioned conditions, speak to your doctor to find out whether it is a good idea to get a hot stone massage.
This type of massage is continually evolving, with many therapists offering their own version. Whether it is your first time or not, speak to your therapist to find out if hot stone massage is an appropriate treatment for your particular condition. Individuals suffering from insomnia, joint or muscle pain, or stress will enjoy this relaxing massage. With so many benefits to offer, hot stone massage is one of the best spa therapies you can experience.