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There are many different ways of massaging, but probably none is associated with warm, relaxed skin as much as a hot stone massage. You have most probably seen a luxurious image of it: black and smooth rocks placed in a straight line, down a relaxed woman’s back. This method has been known for thousands of years. It’s one of the greatest ways to deal with stress and improve well-being. If there are so many benefits, why not try it? Let’s have a closer look at our beginner’s guide to hot stone massage!

WHAT IS HOT STONE MASSAGE?

Hot basalt stones have been used for massage therapy in the Far East since ancient times. This serene treatment promotes relaxation and regeneration of your body through heat. It also soothes muscle pain, and nervous tension, and improves blood circulation. It’s good for treating rheumatic diseases and during convalescence after illness. Shortly, during the procedure flat basalt stones are put in hot water and then placed onto specific parts of your body.

hot stone massage

HOW DOES HOT STONE MASSAGE WORK?

The hot stone massage works through both touch and thermal factors. The stones maintain a constant temperature for a long time and cool down slowly. They can be used to massage different parts of the body. A licensed therapist places hot stones on the part of the body that needs the treatment. If you decide on a full-body hot stone treatment, you can enjoy the benefits on your back, chest, stomach, palms, legs, feet, and even your face.

BENEFITS OF HOT STONE MASSAGE

This unique treatment calms, and regenerates, as well as eliminates stress and its negative effects. It relaxes tense muscles and relieves the pain. Hot stone massage therapy has also a soothing effect on the skin. What’s more, it improves its firmness and elasticity and helps fight cellulite. There are several benefits of this treatment that will affect your physical health, lighten up your mood and give you more energy. Here are the 3 main benefits:

  • Muscle relaxation and pain relief
  • Stress reduction and better sleep
  • Improved circulation and detoxification

Let’s sit back & relax back and dive into details!

MUSCLE RELAXATION AND PAIN RELIEF

Relaxing body treatment with hot stones causes blood vessels to dilate. This way blood flow increases through the muscles. Thanks to this, they receive more oxygen and nutrients, and there is a more efficient removal of metabolic products. Muscle tension decreases, and you get rid of muscle and joint pain. Even a single treatment can bring beneficial effects in immediate relaxation and relief.

STRESS REDUCTION AND BETTER SLEEP

The pleasant warmth of the stones and smooth movements have a relaxing and regenerating effect. Serotonin helps in producing melatonin, which regulates your sleep cycle. And you can be sure your serotonin level will increase after this relaxing treatment! As a result, heated stones can positively affect your sleeping cycle, allowing you to have a good night’s rest. One of the researches shows that hot stones in hemodialysis patients may improve the quality of sleep.

IMPROVED CIRCULATION AND DETOXIFICATION

Hot stone therapy massage also accelerates blood and lymph circulation. This way your skin is better oxygenated and nourished. Due to this improved circulation, your body is cleansed of toxins and metabolic products. As a result, this amazing treatment is a great method of detoxification too.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A HOT STONE MASSAGE SESSION

This kind of treatment doesn’t require any special preparation. You will take off your clothes but your therapist might use a sheet or towel between your skin and the hot stones to prevent burns and irritation. The most popular is the hot stone back and face, or a full-body procedure. It’s usually a 30-minute massage or a 60-minute massage, depending on the treatment you want. Masseurs ask if the temperature of the stones is fine for you. If they’re too hot, a massage therapist will wait for them to cool down a bit, and use the ones you’re satisfied with the most.

Stones for your back massage will be quite large, with the size of 7.5 x 5.5 x 2.75 cm. Thanks to their size the treatment is more effective. The therapist makes circular movements with the stones, leaving the stones along the whole spine. Most often, the treatment begins from the top of the back, and downwards.

Cooling stones are constantly replaced with new ones and heated at that time in a special electric heater. In the final part, the stones are left on your body for a few minutes. After they are removed, the masseur cleans excess oil from your back. Then they also massage you with the stones during your treatment. The stones are thoroughly washed and disinfected before each session. Sometimes your therapist can use marble cold stones alternately. They help reduce inflammation and work against swelling, helping to drain fluid body build-up.

hot stone spa

IS HOT STONE MASSAGE SAFE AND WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

The hot stone massage procedure is perfectly safe. Before the procedure, you will be advised to drink plenty of water and avoid heavy food. Immediately after the treatment, you shouldn’t take hot baths. Not only the smooth sides of the stone are used for massaging, but also its edges. It can affect the body more and bring pain relief. The stones are of different sizes. The largest ones are used when massaging your back.

IS IT PAINFUL?

This self-care treatment is pleasant and painless. The stones are heated to the right temperature. For this purpose, your therapist will use special heaters. The standard warm-up time for most is about half an hour. The average temperature of the stones is 45-50 degrees. Don’t worry, a hot stone massage burn doesn’t happen if you are taken care of by a professional. Yet, make sure you communicate with your therapist about the temperature and pressure. Always tell your spa therapist if you feel any discomfort while your session. Remember – every person has a different heat tolerance.

DOES HOT STONE MASSAGE LEAVE MARKS?

The stones aren’t hot enough to cause burns and leave marks. Before using each stone, the masseur or masseuse checks its temperature on the thermometer of the heating device and in his or her own hands. A great spot to check a stone’s temperature is the inside of the arm, where the skin is very sensitive. When your body gets used to the heat of the stones, the therapist can perform the treatment faster and more decisively.

ARE THERE ANY CONTRADICTIONS?

The hot stone procedure is safe and non-invasive, like other types of relaxation treatments. Yet, there are also some contraindications. You should avoid this kind of treatment in the case of:

  • Pregnancy
  • Fever or infectious diseases
  • Serious inflammations
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Excessive bone fragility

This treatment is also contraindicated if you don’t tolerate higher temperatures. You shouldn’t have problems with very sensitive skin. In this case, tissue damage can happen. One of the main contraindications is also nerve damage. Keep in mind these situations are extremely rare. When done by a trained therapist, the hot stone massage is safe and the risk of potential side effects is close to none. For this reason, it’s crucial to choose an experienced specialist and a professional spa center.

GETTING A HOT STONE MASSAGE WHILE PREGNANT

Relaxation massages are the most recommended during pregnancy. For example, a Swedish massage is beneficial for many typical discomforts related to skeletal and circulatory changes due to hormonal changes. What you should definitely avoid during the pregnancy is deep tissue massage.

Hot stones treatment is generally not recommended during pregnancy because it may be too intense for your body. Some techniques and trigger points can cause contractions and premature labor. You need to find a therapist who specifically specializes in pregnancy massage.

A licensed therapist that specializes in pregnancy massages will have a special table. This table needs a cutout where the tummy can lie without pressure. Some massage oils may not be suitable during pregnancy. They can increase the risks, so it’s best to avoid them.

HOW MUCH DOES A HOT STONE MASSAGE COST?

A professional hot stone massage price differs. The procedure may cost from $75 up to even $150 per hour. It all depends on several factors, such as the country or standard of a given spa center. You may also choose from different packages. Some of them may include face or back massages, and some full-body spa treatments. It’s also important that you get a professional masseur or masseuse. It may seem pricey but it’s definitely worth it.

WHERE TO GET A HOT STONE MASSAGE?

It can be difficult to choose where to get a hot stone massage. Before you decide on a hot stone massage therapy, do some research about the specialists and facilities. Poorly performed procedures, carried out by unqualified people, can result in skin irritation and even burns. It may also simply not bring the results you want. It’s worth entrusting your health to experienced therapists and professional spa centers.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALIFIED HOT STONE MASSAGE THERAPIST

Every type of massage is a kind of art that requires skills, training, and practice. Your therapist needs to be a qualified professional, employed by a reputable spa facility. Training and practice are essential for their work experience. There are several training centers that provide certification for this sort of massage, so it’s best if you ask your spa center if they have one.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A HOT STONE MASSAGE SPA OR FACILITY

When choosing a facility for your treatment, make sure to get a professional, trained therapist. Aside from that, the spa needs to provide a professional heater. Your hot stone session should be done with the help of basalt stones, which are the best for this kind of health treatment. They keep the heat for a long period of time and thanks to their quality, the therapist can work with a flawless routine.

The spa center should use the best quality essential massage oils that have beneficial effects on your skin. It’s also crucial to follow the necessary hygiene rules. A professional spa center should give you all the required medical information. Check online reviews to get a general idea about different massage facilities and find out if the spa has a good reputation.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE SCHEDULING A HOT STONE MASSAGE SESSION

Before you decide to schedule your session, keep in mind there may be some contradictions. It’s great if you inform the therapist about your medical condition. Make sure it’s the best therapy option for you before making an appointment.

You need to know how to prepare before your session – what not to eat, and how to stay hydrated. You should also ask what is included in the price. Your hot stone procedure can include the face, back, or all body parts, and the cost may differ accordingly.

References:

Field T, Diego M, Delgado J, Garcia D, Funk CG. Rheumatoid arthritis in upper limbs benefits from moderate pressure massage therapy. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 May;19(2):101-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Feb 6. PMID: 23561068.

Ghavami H, Shamsi SA, Abdollahpoor B, Radfar M, Khalkhali HR. Impact of hot stone massage therapy on sleep quality in patients on maintenance hemodialysis: A randomized controlled trial. J Res Med Sci. 2019 Aug 28;24:71. doi: 10.4103/jrms.JRMS_734_18. PMID: 31523257; PMCID: PMC6734672.

Mueller SM, Grunwald M. Effects, Side Effects and Contraindications of Relaxation Massage during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Clin Med. 2021 Aug 6;10(16):3485. doi: 10.3390/jcm10163485. PMID: 34441781; PMCID: PMC8396946.