Origins of Hot Stone Massage
Thousands of years ago, in India, smooth river stones were being used as hand tools for therapeutic massage by either heating or cooling them.
In China and Japan, heated stones were being placed onto specific muscles and body parts to treat various illnesses causing pain or discomfort and believed that “chi” or our life force was able to be cleared by the stones if placed properly along meridian lines connecting to internal organs.
It’s known that Native Americans used stones in their sweat lodges for health benefits. Indigenous Hawaiians used lava rocks wrapped in leaves to promote healing and aid with cramps.
In 1993, Mary Nelson began using heated stones in her massage practice and named the modality “LaStone Therapy.”
She was responsible for training other massage therapists her “newly discovered” methods and soon the new therapy took off in popularity around the world.
During a hot stone massage, the smooth, warmed stones can be held in the therapist’s hands and rolled/pressed on key areas of the body. They can also be laid to rest on the back, while the therapist works elsewhere using manual techniques.
Stones are kept sanitized and heated with temperature controlled equipment. Clients’ safety and comfort is of the utmost importance. Oils are used for the stones to glide easier over the skin and maintain the skin’s moisture. Essential oils can be added at extra cost to the oil or as additional aromatherapy through a diffuser in the air.
The stones used are made of basalt (river stones) because of its high iron content which absorbs and retains heat for longer.
Benefits of a hot stone massage is that the massage therapist is able to do deeper tissue work once the muscles have been warmed up by the stones. Blood circulation is temporarily improved as the blood vessels expand. It can promote a feeling of deep relaxation, may increase range of motion in trouble areas, and may help chronic back pain.