What is Hot Stones Massage?
Warm stones give a deeply relaxing and effective massage to aid de-stressing, easing out built-up tension, aches and pains. The Hot Stones Massage experience has been described in many ways – as delicious, decadent, sensual and totally relaxing, offering deep therapeutic comfort and healing.
The use of hot stones has been recorded in history from the time of ancient civilisations, who used them in sacred rituals and to heat their homes. Indian and Mayan cultures, and Ayurvedic traditions, used hot stone massage therapy. Healers would use rocks from the river beds and warm them either in hot coals or hot water. By placing the hot stones on cloth on the body and arranging them along the energy centres of the body, a healing process would occur. The hot stones demonstrated a tendency to relax the muscles and “draw out” muscle pain and discomfort.
Native Americans, who referred to them as ‘grandfather’s stones’, have used hot stones as part of a hot stone massage treatment in their sweat lodge ceremonies since ancient times. In the ceremony, the use of the four elements of fire, water, air and earth in the heating preparation of the stones for the ritual is a key element of the process. Perfectly round hot stones would be used to rub on areas in which pain and discomfort were felt. Such ancient rituals can be used in our modern day practice, maintaining a respect and reverence for the stones and the people.
Modern hot stone massage techniques were devised in the mid-1990s by Mary Hannigan, a massage therapist native to Tucson, Arizona, and the popularity of the treatment has rapidly increased.
The hot stones seem to connect the flow or paths of energy together in order to rebalance the physical body, emotional mind and spirit as one. As noted in ancient cultures, the feet are extremely energy sensitive and are also stimulated in hot stone massage. As in reflexology, the entire body can be seen “reflected” in the feet. Hot stone massage therapy works with small stones placed between the toes to de-stress and stimulate the nerve endings in the feet, followed by aromatic massage. Cool stones are then placed on the pulse points for revitalizing and rejuvenating.
What does the treatment involve?
Stone massage uses deep penetrating heat from smooth basalt rocks, placing the stones at specific points on the body, using natural and aromatherapy oils.
- The therapist uses traditional strokes of Swedish massage while holding a (sanitised) heated stone. As the stone cools, the therapist replaces it with another.
- The therapist will place heated stones (of varying sizes) at specific points along your spine, or in the palms of your hand, or, particularly, between your toes to improve the flow of energy in your body.
- If you have inflammation or muscle injury, cold stones are sometimes used.
The heat from the stones increases the relaxation response and increases healing through improved blood flow and circulation. The heat of the stones is designed to be at a comfortable level.