Hot Stone Massage

Over the last few years, the use of hot stones in massage therapy has become incredibly popular. While the practice of placing heated stones on certain points of the body dates to centuries ago, the most recent version of this therapy is usually credited to an Arizona-based massage therapist named Mary Nelson, who created a technique called LaStone Therapy, which she subsequently began teaching to other therapists.

Today, most spas and salons have created their own variations on Nelson’s technique, but certain things remain constant. They include:

The Stones: Typically these are river rocks made of basalt, which is rich in iron and retains heat well. River rocks are chosen, specifically, because they have been smoothed by current of the water.

The Heat:The stones are submerged in water and heated to a specific temperature range. The therapist will always handle the stones before applying them to your body, to ensure that they are never too hot.

Once the stones are heated, the therapy begins. Usually, you’ll begin by lying face-down on a massage bed, and the therapist will apply massage oil to your skin, in order to help the stones move more smoothly. Some massage therapists will merely place the hot stones over key points on your back, while others will draw the stones across your skin. Often, both techniques are used, and the stones are then left in place for a few minutes. After working on your back, your therapist will ask you to turn over.

The heat from the stones is meant to help relax your muscles, allowing your therapist to apply deeper pressure with her hands, and is usually followed by a more traditional massage. Because of this, hot stone massage sessions are generally booked for 90-120 minutes rather than 60.

While anyone can enjoy a hot stone massage, this type of massage is particularly well-suited for people who tend to have cold feet (literally) or are prone to feeling chilly. It’s also recommended for people who have muscle tension but don’t like deep-tissue massage, because the heat helps to relax the muscles.

Other health issues that respond well to hot stone massage include:

  • arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • back aches
  • depression
  • circulation issues
  • insomnia
  • stress and anxiety
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