What to Expect with a Hot Stone Massage

Monday July 28, 2014

by Ginger Clark, Massage Therapist

Hot Stone Massage is a deeply relaxing and therapeutic treatment, combining the use of heat and massage techniques. Stones are warmed and gently applied to the body, penetrating through areas of chronic pain or tension and melting away stress.

For whatever reason, visual marketing of the treatment has been misleading and most prospective massage clients are mystified about how hot stone massage actually works. We see pictures of women with their heads to the side, dark stones lying in patterns on their bare backs. In actuality, warmed stones are never placed still on bare skin without a protective layer between to keep them from burning. The treatment is actually performed by the therapist cupping the stones in their hands for soothing, gliding strokes over the body. Movement of stones over the body is what feels so very different from classic massages! Some stones are used as tools for deeper work on trigger points.  When stones lose their heat, they may be placed on the body or tucked under.

Many people find the warmth of the stones causes them to take in a deep breath with instant relaxation. The effect of heat on the body combined with classic massage therapy increases the ability to stretch the connective tissue, decreases joint stiffness, relieves pain and muscle spasms, increases blood flow, and can assist in removal of edema and waste products from injury.

Your therapist will begin the session by explaining what the hot stones are—smoothed, dark, basalt stones. They are placed in a bath full of warm water and heated. Because temperature is subjective, your therapist will ask you about your comfort level when they first apply the stones and you should tell them if the stones are too warm for you.

Hot stones can be integrated into a 60 or 90 minute session, and can be a wonderful way to add warmth back to your body and aid relaxation.