Hot stone massage is a natural massage therapy modality in which warmed, smooth stones are used to perform the massage strokes to maximize the therapeutic benefit. The stones that are typically used are a form of river rocks or some other very smooth surfaced stones made of basalt. The stones come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate larger areas such as your back and upper legs, small stones for detailed foot work and an assortment of sizes in between to use on a variety of muscles and surfaces. These stones are heated in water or a steamer before use to an ideal temperature between 120 and 140 degrees. It is the high iron content in basalt helps the stones retain heat during the massage. During your session, the massage therapist will often flip the stone during strokes to ensure the heat sufficiently gets into your muscle tissue from both sides of the stone.
As with any therapeutic or complementary or alternative medicine treatment, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor before having a session. In the case of hot stone massage, there are certain cautions and contraindications that must be observed, such as, high blood pressure, arrhythmia's and other cardiac issues and diabetes, to name a few. Your massage therapist should also do a health intake prior to your session.
The heat of the stones combined with the therapists pressure can help your muscles to relax, allowing the massage therapist to manipulate tissues more effectively. Certainly, all types of massage can help ease pain resulting from tense muscles, stiff joints or injuries, but hot stone work may very well provide a heightened level of relief. Some clients have noted that because the application of heat allows the massage therapist to penetrate deeper, that the affects are akin to deep tissue work, without the additional pressure.
Cold, as we know, can lead to decreased circulation. Heat, on the other hand, may help increase circulation; it causes the blood vessels to widen, known as vasodilation. With greater circulation comes health benefits. Poor circulation can lead to fatigue, which tenses the muscles, and a buildup of fluid and lactic acid in the muscles. Increased circulation delivers more oxygen to the muscles, which can help ease aches and pains.
Robert Zukowski is certified in Hot Stone Massage by the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences
Winter Massage Therapy Special through December 31, 2014: Hot Stone Massage
Now through December 31, 2014, any 60 minute Hot Stone Massage is is on sale for $60. Hot Stone Massages are available only at the Astoria location.