Stones were among the first tools used by humans. Precious stones such as ornate, sapphire, ruby, were used for beautification purposes. Some cultures even used hot stones to alter the temperature of the body for healing purposes. Though the history of using heated stones and gemstones as an adjunct to body work dates back thousands of years, it was not until the late 1990s that the use of hot stones was incorporated into massage therapies. Mary Nelson – a massage therapist from Arizona, USA is considered to be the first person to introduce Hot Stone Massage Therapy (she called it ‘LaStone Therapy’) to the world. Since then the popularity of this form of massage therapy has increased a lot, today it has bloomed into a multimillion-dollar industry. So, exactly what is hot stones massage and why should you get one?
What is Hot Stone Massage?
Hot stone massage is a type of therapeutic treatment in which heated stones are either placed on specific points along the body or used as a massaging tool with steady soothing pressure to achieve therapeutic benefits.
It is extremely effective in treating extremely tense muscles. The basic purpose of using hot stones before the hands-on massage therapy is to loosen the extremely tense muscle so that a therapist is able to provide a deeper and more relaxing massage without inflicting excessive pain. The weight and warmth from the hot stones penetrate slowly into the soft tissue of the body in a way that can’t be achieved by massage alone. The hands-on massage techniques used in hot stone massage are the same as those used in a regular massage.
What Are The Hot Stones
The size, shape, and texture of the stones used in this type of massage are of prime importance in achieving the desired results. Stones used in hot stone massage possess some specific qualities that make them ideal for this type of body treatment. First of all, the stones need to have a very smooth and flat surface; secondly these stones need to be able to retain heat for a long time, thirdly they need to release the heat slowly, and they need to be of an ideal size and weight to easily hold them during treatment.
Basalt rocks are usually preferred over any other type of rocks since this volcanic rock is able to safely hold the heat without cracking and release it at a more controlled and even rate. The rocks used during hot stone massage therapy are placed in hot/warm water before they can be applied to the body. Some massage therapists also use the cold stones after hot stone application to help calm swollen blood vessels and soothe hot skin.
Many people compare hot stone massage with a Swedish massage or a regular massage and think that they are the same. In reality, this is not the case, all of these massage therapies use different techniques, approaches, and skills, however their basic goal is the same – to restore and promote physical and emotional wellbeing.
A hot stone massage is different from other types of massage therapies in the sense that the heat from the hot stones causes vasodilatation and consequently an increase in the blood flow to the treated area. This facilitates healing and elimination of waste material. The surrounding soft tissues are relaxed and muscle soreness and tension is relieved. Listed below are some of the many benefits of hot stone massage therapy:
- relaxes muscles more quickly allowing better results from massage therapy
- increases blood and lymph circulation to the area
- relieves minor aches, pains, and inflammation
- soothes the nervous system
- reduces stress
- increases joint flexibility
- decreases muscle spasms and tension
- improves sleep
Even though hot stone massage is a safe and effective massage technique, it is not an ideal therapy for everyone. People who have certain medical issues such as sensitive skin, skin infections, heart problems, diabetes, or pregnancy should consult a doctor before receiving hot stones treatment.
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