A Hot Stone Massage combines Swedish massage techniques with the soothing effects of hot stone therapy. Smooth stones are warmed and are gently glided along key points on the body.
The smooth stones are flat and are typically a type of volcanic rock called basalt. These particular stones are chosen because they retain heat.
To warm them up, the massage stones are placed in hot water, and then they are placed on specific points on the body. The stones may be left to sit for a few minutes to allow the heat to move into your muscles, or the massage therapist may used the stones to massage with. This allows the therapist to get deeper into your muscles, without having to apply more pressure, furthering your relaxation.
Common areas for the stones to be applied are:
Occasionally, cold stones may also be used on the face or after the hot stones have been applied. While the warm stones may help your muscles relax and loosen, cold temperatures help calm swollen blood vessels and soothe hot skin.
Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massages have been around for over 2,000 years, and with the benefits it has, it is easy to see why. Hot stone massages can help to:
- Alleviate Pain – Heat therapy is well known for its ability to soothe and relax sore or damaged muscles. It works by increasing circulation and blood flow to the area where the stones are applied, which in turn leads to the healing of damaged tissue. Increasing the temperature of the afflicted area can also soothe an individual’s discomfort and increase muscle flexibility.
- Reduce Stress – Numerous studies have shown that massages have the ability to relax the participant, reduce stress and anxiety, and even lower blood pressure. Adding additional heat and gentle pressure of the hot stones can deepen these effects.
- Improve Joint Flexibility – Heat warms up and loosens the muscles, joints, and surrounding tissues. In turn, flexibility is increased. This is why athletes and gym-goers warm up prior to working out. Warming up the body improves their flexibility and reduces their risk for injury. The same goes for a hot stone massage.
- Reduce Tension and Muscle Spasms – Tense muscles, especially those that spasm, can cause a lot of pain and even interrupt regular activities. The solution is to reduce the inflammation and tension within the skeletal muscles; and as previously mentioned, getting a massage, and adding hot stones into the mix, can promote relaxation throughout your muscles and joints which will reduce both pain and spasms.
- Improve Your Sleep – People aren’t joking when they say they may fall asleep on the massage therapist’s table. Massage alone is enough to put the body in a super relaxed state, add heat therapy and you have the perfect combination for a serious nap. This effect carries over into the night when it is actually time to go to sleep. Many individuals report getting a better nights sleep (longer or deeper sleep) after receiving a massage; and those who get a massage regularly see this benefit nightly.