The therapeutic benefits of hot stone massage
by Carmen R. Noguer, L.M.P.
This article was originally published in March 2001
Research shows that massage is a good part of a personal spring cleaning. Massage increases circulation and lymph flow, removing bacteria from body tissues and helping the body clean itself out.
Massage also reduces the rate at which the heart beats and lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion and increases the release of endorphins.
Hot stone massage is a technique that’s getting a lot of attention at spas and retreats worldwide and is growing in popularity. The technique combines massage with heated and cool volcanic, water-polished river stones and handmade marble stones. It incorporates all the usual benefits, yet cold stones bring an additional bonus by helping to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.
The merits of applying hot and cold stones to the body for relaxation and therapeutic value has been known for many years. The ancient Chinese used this technique more than 3,000 years ago. The Native Americans are said to have used stones from a running brook for centuries as a means of applying uniform heat to the body.
The basic method uses heated river stones from a warm water basin and cold marble stones from a cooler. Stones are placed precisely under and on top of the client, who wears a large bath sheet.
The massage practitioner also uses the hot stones to massage deeply into muscles. The deep penetrating heat draws blood into an area, increasing circulation and creating an extremely relaxed state. Cold stones are placed wherever the client feels pain or inflammation.
Many clients have a hard time distinguishing between the stones and the practitioner’s hands. The technique seems to reach deeper without having to apply more pressure. Clients leave feeling the beneficial effects of a deep massage, without any soreness.
It’s important to know that hot stones are not recommended for pregnant women or people with multiple sclerosis. The cold stones, however, can be therapeutic and healing for all.
The spiritual nature of being healed with a piece of the Earth offers another dimension. The stones give over their heating and cooling effects to the client’s body, mind and spirit. In that energy exchange, many clients say they feel akin with the stones.
In a world that’s swiftly growing in technology, traffic and stress, it’s nice to know that small pebbles and stones have the power to restore peace and tranquility. It makes sense that we would find the power to heal under our feet.
Carmen has studied Jin Shin Do acupressure, Reiki, Lomi Lomi, postural balancing and hot stone massage. She teaches Reiki and hot stone massage in addition to her practice at Moon Garden Massage. The basic method uses heated river stones from a warm water basin and cold marble stones from a cooler. The massage practitioner also uses the hot stones to massage deeply into muscles.