Article by by Donna Kraft- Smith, LMT
By Donna Kraft- Smith, L.M.T. - “Hot Stone Massage” is an ancient healing art originating thousands of years ago in India and China. Today this practice has been revived and is growing in popularity in healing spas and massage treatment rooms. Hot Stone Massage is actually using heated stones throughout the massage treatment. Hot stones may be used to enhance the treatments of table massage, chair massage, foot reflexology, facials, body wraps, etc. The stones are smooth, oiled and should fit comfortably on the body of you the client or in the hand of the therapist.
One way to use the heated stones is to place them in a stationary position to warm the muscles of the participant, similar to using a heating pad or hot water bottle. This brings the clients attention to the warmed body part and has a calming effect, easing away tension. These “placement stones” remain stationary on the client, while other parts of the body are being worked on. Placement stones may be used under the body. For example, stones may be positioned to line up along both sides of the client’s spine, with the client lying down on top of them. They can also be used on top of the body, in such places as in between the toes, the face, and the stomach, to warm these places up and improve circulation as well.
Another way to use the hot stones is for the therapist to actually massage the client’s muscles with them. These are called the “working stones”. The heat of the stones warms and relaxes the muscles very quickly and easily. This often allows the practitioner to access deeper into the muscles in a shorter amount of time and with less effort then in a conventional massage. Many clients will not notice the stones themselves, but will feel the sensation of strong hands and a deep penetrating relaxing heat.
A good therapist will ensure that the stones will be no hotter than 120- 130 degrees to safely work with. If this is still too much for your comfort level, the practitioner should have a way of either cooling the stones or have a towel between them and your body if they are stationary. The practitioner should always check in with you the client to ensure that the positioning of all stationary stones is comfortable.
There are some situations where it is unsafe to receive a Hot Stone Massage. The heat from the stones increases your circulation and metabolism. In certain situations this may create too much stress on the body rather than supporting it. Tell your therapist if you are: pregnant (due to rise in body temperature); if you are a cardiac patient or have High Blood Pressure (due to increased circulation demands); having chemo or radiation; fever (due to rise in body temperature); if you have any skin conditions (for example: burns , psoriasis, skin cancer, dermatitis, eczema, acne, shingles, herpes), if you have any situation where you may have loss of nerve sensation; or if you have a depressed immune system ( Lupus, Mono, HIV/Aids, Cancer, Chronic Fatique, etc.).
Usually the cost of adding hot stones into a treatment increases. This is due to the increased time of the treatment, and both utilizing and cleaning all the equipment. It’s well worth it! Hot Stone Massage can be a great way to relax and warm your body these cold winter days!
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