Hot stone massage is a common service to be offered at spas, but many people are not completely sure what it entails. Butter Day Spa massage therapists take us through the basics of what is it, what to expect, and what to avoid.
What exactly is hot stone therapy? This massage technique is administered by the therapist using heated basalt rocks as an extension of their own hands. In other words, they hold the stones in their hands and glide them over the clients muscles, using stones of different sizes and various amounts of pressure. It takes a skilled, well trained therapist with a certain amount of finesse and awareness to deliver an exceptional hot stone treatment. The most typical stones to use are basalt, a type of volcanic rock, as they retain heat well. Stones can also be frozen and used for cryotherapy (cold therapy).
Hot stone therapy is thought to have been used by Native Americans by warming stones on a fire and using them to relieve aching muscles or joints. It has many of the same benefits as Swedish massage, but most of the benefits are exemplified thanks to the added heat. Using hot stones provides deeper relaxation, more relief for tired or tight muscles, and rids the body of more built up toxins. You may also experience benefits that are specific to hot stone therapy, such as arthritic pain relief, bursitis pain relief, and help with depression and insomnia.
When coming in to have a hot stone massage, at Butter Day Spa you can expect to lay face down on the massage table to start. We heat the stones to approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit before your arrival, then place them along your spine to relieve the particularly tense muscles before the massage begins. We proceed by using the stones in our hands to warm up and manipulate the muscle tissue. Stones can be placed down the back, under the shoulders while face up, and on the belly.
There are some conditions under which you should not have hot stone massage. It is not recommended for those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, or take blood thinners, for pregnant or menopausal women, or those who are currently nursing a sunburn. Check with your physician before beginning any hot stone treatments if you have any of the conditions listed above.
If you are able to safely have hot stone massage, it is a wonderful way to relax the body even further than a regular Swedish massage, especially in the cold winter weather when our bodies seem to tense up just from being outside!