A hot stone massage is a form of massage therapy in which the trained massage therapist uses heated stones to massage your body. The hot stones are also placed on key points of the spine and muscles to promote healing and encourages blood flow throughout the body.
Hot stone massage therapy melts away tension, eases muscle stiffness and increases circulation and metabolism. This is accomplished by the direct heat of the stones which relaxes muscles and allows the therapist to access deeper muscle layers. Another effect is the hot stones expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body, and has been known to have a sedative effect that can relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation.
History of Hot Stone Massage
The technique of using heated stones dates back several hundreds of years and can be an excellent way to loosen up the muscles allowing for a more penetrative massage to sore or inflamed muscles. Hot stones, warmed by a fire, have been used by native Americans to give relief to aching muscles.
Traditionally, the stones that are used are black volcanic rocks (basalt) that range in size from small to large. They also tend to be naturally smoothed by the currents of the river or seawater.
What Happens During A Hot Stone Massage?
The stones may be placed:
● along your spine
● on your stomach
● on your chest
● on your face
● on your palms
● on your feet and toes
There are times that cold stones are also used during a hot stone massage. Cold stones may be used after hot stones to calm any engorged blood vessels and to soothe the skin.
Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
All massages generally fall under the alternative medicine umbrella. They’re becoming a popular complementary therapy for many conditions. Here are some advantages of getting a hot stone massage:
● Relieves pain and tension
● Reduces chronic stress and tension
● Promotes Sleep
● Provides relief from the pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpal tunnel
syndrome and other chronic conditions
● Assist with pain from Cancer treatment
● Boost Immunity
● Increases flexibility in joints
1. Helps Relieve Muscle Tension and Pain
It is a known fact that heat has been used to ease muscle tension and pain for decades. It helps increase blood flow to the affected area. There is evidence that it will reduce muscle spasms and increase flexibility and range of motion.
Cold therapy helps relieve inflammation which in some case. Based on your symptoms, alternating hot and cold stones during your massage is proven to be helpful.
3. Promotes sleep
A literature review from 2006, found massages may be an alternative to sleeping pills in adults with insomnia. The research showed that back massage helped promote relaxation and sleep.
A 2001 study showed that infants with sleep problems who were given a 15-minute massage by their parents went to sleep faster. Babies appeared more alert, active, and positive upon awakening.
Massage is thought to help you enjoy more restorative sleep, although there is not much research as to why it is so helpful with sleep.
4. May Help Relieve Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases
Hot stone massage may even relieve painful conditions such as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread, chronic pain.
According to a study conducted in 2002, people with fibromyalgia who received a 30-minute massage slept longer, had fewer trigger points, and had decreased levels of substance P (a substance involved in transmitting pain signals) than people with the condition who received relaxation therapy.
More research is needed, however, before massage can become a standard fibromyalgia treatment.
5. May Help Decrease Cancer Symptoms
A large, three-year study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management examined the effects of massage on pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety, nausea, and depression in 1,290 people with cancer.
The study showed that Swedish massage improved cancer symptoms, even in those with substantial symptoms. Researchers believe the comforting use of human touch played a role which is why Reiki is often used as a form of alternative medicine.
6. May Boost Immunity
Give your immune system a boost with a massage. According to a 2010 study, a single session of Swedish massage therapy had both a positive and acute impact on immunity. Blood samples taken before and after the massage showed a decrease in arginine-vasopressin. This is a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and water retention.
Who May Benefit From a Hot Stone Massage?
If you are experiencing muscle tension and pain, insomnia, or stress you may benefit from a hot stone massage. If you suffer from a chronic condition that causes pain, talk to your doctor to see if a hot stone massage is a good option for you.
Studies have shown that a hot stone massage may be a helpful way to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and ease pain and muscle tension. It may also be helpful for a variety of conditions and circumstances.
More research is needed to find out exactly why massage therapy has such a powerful impact on the body and mind. It may have a lot to do with human touch. For many people, touch offers a sense of connection and security.
To make sure you have a positive hot stone massage experience, only use a licensed massage therapist who is trained to work with hot stones. You may feel sore during your massage or the day after. This may be due to deep tissue manipulation and pressure. However, you shouldn’t feel pain. If you are uncomfortable or experience pain during your massage, let your massage therapist know right away.
Taking a break from work and from life is truly a necessity that most people overlook and take for granted. It is called self-care for a reason! Just being able to give yourself some down time to unwind and relax is a healthy habit.