Reasons to Incorporate Hot Stone Massage Into Your Next Session

Benefits of hot stone massage

Hot stone massage is a modality that has been used in different cultures for thousands of years. There are accounts of uses in China dating back 2,000 years and in India as far back as 5,000 years. Stones were placed on the body to relieve tightness and tension. In the early 1990s, Mary Nelson brought stone massage back to the forefront of body work with the development of LaStone Therapy.  

Benefits of hot stone massage 

If you’ve ever wondered if you should add stones into your next massage, the answer is yes. Incorporating stones in your bodywork has many benefits. Here are just a few. 

Decrease muscle tension 

When hot stones are placed and left to sit on a particular part of the body, the heat will penetrate the surrounding muscle tissue. Think of it as a warmup to the tissue.  

The stones can also be used as a tool to massage with. This is a win-win for both the therapists and the client. The client gets the benefit of loosened muscle, and the therapist can work into the deeper muscle layers with less work. 

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Induce relaxation 

When stones are applied to the body at various points, it can lend the session a comforting and nurturing feel. This allows the parasympathetic nervous system to take over, creating a relaxation response from the client. When a client is relaxed, it reduces the stress hormones in the body as well as reducing blood pressure.  

Increase circulation 

Heat has a vasodilating response on the blood vessels. This means that the blood vessels will relax and open allowing more blood to flow through. This not only increases the blood flow to the area but also brings oxygen and nutrients.  

The combination of fresh blood and oxygen will decrease the amount of muscle tension in the area and speed up the healing process. Decreased muscle tension makes for a happy client, and a happy client is a returning client!  

Boost the immune system 

When heat is applied to the body, it can support the function of the lymphatic system. In the same way it does with the circulatory system, the dilation of the vessels will allow the lymph to move throughout the body more efficiently. This is going to is going to increase the function of the immune system.  

Cautions and contraindications 

Just as there are many benefits to using stones in your sessions, there are also important cautions. Standard cautions for massage will apply to hot stone massage. Such conditions to keep in mind would be open wounds, diabetes, heat sensitivities, and certain medications such as blood thinners.  

Massage therapists should also take special note of the following situations.  

  1. Monitor the temperature of the stones and adjust to meet the client’s needs. Avoid placing the stones directly on the skin’s surface while in a resting position. A barrier such as a towel or sheet should go between the client’s body and the stones to ensure that they aren’t burned. Remember heat tolerance is going to vary from client to client. Always check in with your client and make sure that the temperature is at a comfortable level.  
  2. If a client presents with a recent injury, heat should not be used during the inflammatory phase. This is the first 72 hours after the injury. The body is in protection mode during this phase and the heat can cause damage to the tissue.  
  3. When working with prenatal clients, it’s important to remember that heat can be a caution. The concern is with raising the core body temperature. It is appropriate to use the stones as a tool while massaging; however, take caution when using them in a resting position.