Hot Stone Massage
Possibly one of my favorite massage modalities to perform and receive aside from deep tissue work is without a doubt hot stone massage. This may sound like a strange concept to some; however, it is possibly one of the most relaxing massages ever! I prefer to get mine done during the colder months but I do know some individuals who would love a hot stone massage year round!
The stones are submerged in hot water (no hotter than 112-114 degrees Fahrenheit; for comparison boiling water is at 212 degrees Fahrenheit) and are taken out by the massage therapist right before they are used on the client/patient. Some massage therapists add essential oils to the water to add to the experience and oil is used to help the stones glide over muscle tissue. Hot stone sets that are used in spas are typically bought online; however, when I was in massage school we took a trip to the river while it was low and just picked up good old fashioned river stones. I have found several lava rocks (indigenous to our region, by the way) and they of course retain heat better than any other stone I have found.
In my experience no two hot stone massages are ever the same. The heat from the stones helps warm up the muscles so that the therapist can both go deeper and go after knots or muscle tension without having to use very much pressure at all allowing the client/patient to relax (or fall asleep even). During a hot stone massage, communication is vital. While most massage therapists know to always check in with their client/patient in regards to pressure during the massage; it’s still always a good idea to speak up about pressure and the temperature of the stones during the hot stone massage.
After receiving a hot stone massage it is important to stay hydrated! Massage alone increases circulation and by adding the hot stones circulation increases that much more. You may feel pretty drowsy or feel like the room is spinning after your hot stone massage; in which case I highly recommend either having someone drive you to your appointment or set up some other means of transportation just to be safe. Sometimes after having a hot stone massage you can see small red circles on your back or other extremities where the hot stones were placed during the massage. Don’t be alarmed! If the circles don’t go away several hours after the hot stone massage THEN you should probably go see your doctor.
There is also another way to use stones in a massage and its COLD stone massage. Those stones are usually marble (because marble retains cold the best) and are used primarily for neck and head injuries or to help treat migraines.
Jennifer Roldan, LMP Northwest WellnessFederal Way, WA