The feel of the sun on your face, the comforting heat of the open fire, the warm bath relaxing your body after a long day. We all know how truly soothing heat can feel on our bodies. That’s because heat is known to unwind the muscles, leading to a feeling of calm and relaxation. But this is not a new revelation, and neither is the use of hot stones.
There are historical accounts that show that stones have been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years to help improve the function of the internal organs. There is also evidence to suggest that it has been used in folklore and religious ceremonies to heal ailments in the Americas, Africa, Europe, Egypt and India. Spanish folk healers used heated stones to relieve period pain and cold stones to slow the bleeding after childbirth.
The use of stones in massage was then reinvented in 1993 by Mary Nelson, a native to Arizona, and now heated stone therapy is a common and popular form of treatment all over the world. It is usually combined with Swedish or Deep Tissue massage to ease aches and pains in the body and aid relaxation.
Most commonly, the stones are made from basalt; black volcanic rock which is smoothed by the river or the sea as they are particularly good at absorbing and retaining heat. A range of different shapes and sizes of stone are heated in a bath of hot water before you arrive for your treatment. The therapist may place stones on specific points of the body to encourage blood flow and the relaxation of certain muscles. Some therapists believe that placing stones on energy ‘chakras’ help to balance the flow of energy around the body.
The therapist will then massage with the stones, gliding them over the body and swapping them once they start to cool. They might use a combination of stones and Swedish or deep tissue massage to really tailor the treatment to your individual needs. The heat is absorbed by the muscles, helping them to relax, easing tension and therefore, allowing the therapist to work deeper if necessary. The treatment is perfect for anyone with particularly tight muscles or tension, anyone suffering from arthritis, or simply those who wish to experience a much deeper relaxation.
Due to the nature of the treatment, it is not suitable for anyone with diabetes, heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or anyone on medication that thins the blood. It is also unadvisable to have a hot stone massage if you are pregnant, or suffering from sunburn.