Benefits of a hot stone massage
Hot stone massage
By relieving tension, easing pain and potentially clearing the mind, a massage is not a luxury indulgence but a necessary means to rejuvenate and restore oneself. Of the main types of common massage, a hot stone massage is a popular method that offers a wide range of physical benefits.
While a hot stone massage is likely best enjoyed when performed by a licensed professional, it is possible to enjoy some of the benefits at home, provided the proper tools are used and precautions are taken.
Hot stone massage basics
How does a hot stone massage work?
In a hot stone massage, smooth and flat stones are placed at various points on the body to relieve tension, increase blood flow and provide stimulating sensations. Igneous rocks, which form as a result of volcanic activity and effectively retain heat, such as basalt, are commonly employed by massage therapists and almost exclusively used by those performing hot stone massage at home. Some, however, prefer sedimentary rocks such as limestone, sandstone or slate
Stones are heated to between 130 degrees and 145 degrees and then placed gently and temporarily on specific body parts. Stones may be placed on the back, legs, hands, feet, neck and even the face for various amounts of time. Some massage therapists may apply pressure using stones, whether tapping, kneading or rubbing in a circular motion. Swedish massage techniques are also used in conjunction with professional hot stone massages.
Hot stone massage benefits
- Tension relief. The goal of any massage is to relieve tension. Hot stone massages increase blood flow and circulation, which reduces swelling, tension and any aches and pains.
- Stress relief. A hot stone massage can offer mental and emotional relief as well. The physical sensation is known to reduce stress, clear the mind and provide a sensory escape from the outside world.
- Immune boost. By reducing stress, a hot stone massage can improve immune system function. They may also benefit those with autoimmune diseases.
- Better sleep. Hot stone massages are useful for those struggling to fall or stay asleep. The reduced tension, both physical and mental, helps calm the body and leads to easier and more restful sleep.
- Comfort and security. For many people, a massage provides a feeling of safety when performed by a professional or trusted person. Physical touch creates a comforting point of connection and helps lead to a sense of peace.
Hot stone massage risks
Some precautions should be taken with hot stone massages. Most notably, hot stones are not meant to be left for long periods on bare skin. A professional massage therapist may place them briefly on bare skin, but in most cases, particularly with those performing such massages at home, hot stones should be placed on a sheet or towel that covers the skin. A stone that is too hot or left on the body for too long can cause serious pain and burns.
Open sores, cuts or skin irritations should be avoided. Those with blood disorders or those taking blood thinners should also forgo hot stone massages. Women who are pregnant are advised not to partake in a hot stone massage and should consult their doctor concerning any type of massage.
How to enjoy a hot stone massage at home
Hot stone massages can be performed at home with the right tools, preparation and knowledge. You’ll want to have anywhere from 12-25 hot stones, available at various sizes, including two larger ones that are at least 6 inches long. Ideally, you’ll have a hot stone massage set that offers stones in three different sizes for use across the body.
Stones should be heated in a pot of water or crockpot; do not use a microwave or oven. Use a thermometer to determine the precise temperature. Ideally, stones should reach 130 degrees. Anticipate heating up the stones about 30 minutes before the massage is set to start. Note that they will cool slowly once removed from the water. Some products, like this quality set by SereneLife, may come with a heating element so that the stones can warm quickly and safely.
Once heated, stones can be placed briefly on certain body parts before others are left on covered portions of the body. Smaller stones are designed for use on the face, while larger options should be situated on the shoulders or breastbone.
Stones can also be used in conjunction with massage techniques. Some users may want to coat the stones in a calming essential oil, like lavender, that is safe for topical use.
Hot stone massage tips
- Research. A successful hot stone massage is influenced by the number of stones used, where they are placed, as well as for how long. It’s with researching and experimenting with various techniques and processes to find out what’s best for you.
- Build an atmosphere. It’s helpful to create a calming and relaxing environment. An aromatherapy diffuser can fill the air with an inviting scent, while lights should be turned low and ambient music played softly.
- Clean after use. Wash and rinse your stones in warm water after the massage. You may use a brush or a mixture of vinegar and water as needed, especially if they are coated with oils.
- Communicate. When applying stones to someone else, be sure to communicate about temperature and comfort levels throughout the process so that it’s safe and comfortable.
- Work with a friend. It’s possible to apply hot stones to your own body in order to indulge in some benefits, but the required effort and potential risk is likely to diminish any relaxing and calming effects.
- Use cold stones. Just like heat, stones that are cooled beforehand offer benefits as well. Some techniques incorporate cold stones to reduce swelling in certain areas, calm the skin and provide a soothing sensation.
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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