One of my very favorite ways to help people relax is with a hot stone massage. I have a deep respect for the natural world, and using bits of the Earth in my work gives me a feeling of connection with the forces of nature. It also helps me stay grounded and focused on the work.
Hot stone massage is very beneficial to people who have extremely tense muscles as the heat from the stones penetrates the muscle layers and helps facilitate manipulation by the therapist. Many people reach a much deeper state of relaxation from hot stone massage as compared with a regular therapeutic massage.
A properly trained therapist heats the stones either in a towel warmer or a water bath before beginning. The temperature of the stones should be between 105° and 110°F. Some larger stones may be placed on areas of tension in the body, such as the back and shoulders, always with a sheet or towel covering the skin to prevent burning. Smaller and smoother stones are used by the therapist to warm and massage other areas such as the arms and legs.
The benefits of a hot stone massage are similar, but often more pronounced than those of a regular therapeutic massage and may include: relief from pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other chronic conditions; reduction of chronic stress and tension; and an increase of flexibility in joints, aiding mobility and movement.
As beneficial as hot stone massage can be, there are a few cases where it may not be recommended. If you have recently had surgery; if you have acute injuries, severe bruises, cuts and abrasions, varicose veins or sunburn; you will probably need to let your body heal some before receiving a hot stone massage.
Edema and some cardiovascular conditions may be aggravated by hot stone massage, so if you are affected by any of these or if you experience decreased sensitivity due to diabetes or neurological issues, you should consult with a doctor prior to arranging a hot stone massage, as should pregnant women.
It is a good idea to discuss any medical conditions with a qualified and licensed therapist before scheduling an appointment for a hot stone massage.
Since the weather has started getting cooler, now is the time to think about trying a hot stone massage to experience an uninterrupted hour of blissful relaxation for yourself. You may also consider giving the gift of healthy TLC to friends and family members.