What is a Hot Stone Massage?
With Hot Stone – The Heat is On
During a hot stone massage, which became popular in the US in the 1990s, the therapist heats as many as 50 basalt stones to 120–140º F, rubs them over your oiled body, and rests them on top of and beneath you.
Stones are laid on your stomach, in your palms and between your toes. The stones’ warmth enhances the relaxing effects of the pressure.
Some people believe the stones have healing, grounding qualities, which makes hot stone massage a more profound experience than your basic massage.
Running Hot and Cold
Hot stone is a feel-good treatment found on most spa menus.
The therapist will leave some of the smooth, heated massage stones in contact with your body and use others to massage you.
Cold stones are sometimes incorporated, especially on the face, where they have a firming effect.
Hot and cold stone temperatures have said to be like the ‘vascular gymnastics’ of the circulatory systems, the system that controls self-healing in the body.
Good to Know
There are no requirements for using hot or cold stones in a massage. However, being able to manipulate the stones at the proper temperatures is an essential skill, says Bucinell, whose program offers a basic 30-hour hands-on training up to a master’s level.
Training can also be done through book or video, so it’s worth asking for an experienced therapist so you don’t get burned.
Don’t Get Burned
The heat of the stones has an immediately relaxing effect, and the therapist will glide them along your back and limbs, and set them on muscles and soft tissue or tuck them into your hands.
They should never be uncomfortably hot or nudge a shoulder blade or the spine. If they do, speak up.
Before You Go
You may be asked to lie down on the hot stones, which looks potentially uncomfortable, but isn’t as long as they’ve been carefully arranged to make contact with soft tissue.
Some spas see a spiritual side of the hot stones, placing them outside in the moonlight to recharge them and remove the energy of the previous client for the next one.