Hot Stone Massages: What Are They And Who Can Benefit?
3 minutes read
Whether you’re craving an hour of relaxation or your muscles require some TLC, it might be a good time to consider getting a hot stone massage. Not as scary as they sound and seriously good for your mind, body and soul, we spoke to Antonia David, Head of Education at Elemental Herbology, for a low-down on exactly what a hot stone massage is and who can take advantage of the benefits.
What is a Hot Stone Massage?
According to Antonia, a hot stone massage is carried out using Swedish massage techniques (or other hands-on massage techniques) along with heated volcanic rocks of various shapes and sizes. “This warming and grounding treatment calms the nervous system and can work deeper into the muscles than a regular massage,” she says. “This facilitates faster muscle recovery and aids the body’s natural healing process.”
Are Hot Stone Massages Good for You?
Typically, hot stone massages are good for you unless you have any contra-indications or sensitivity to heat (for example, if you are experiencing hot flushes due to menopause, sunburned, or sensitive skin). “Before booking a hot stone massage, it’s important to be aware that certain health conditions may be contra-indicated to this treatment – including pregnancy, epilepsy, diabetes (if suffering from loss of skin sensation), osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and nerve damage or neuropathy,” Antonia says. “Also, be sure to let your therapist know if you have any metal implants (these will conduct heat), varicose veins, bruising or recent scar tissue, as these areas may need to be avoided,” she adds.
Hot Stone Massage Benefits
Warming, grounding and calming for the nervous system
The use of calming heat in a hot stone massage can instantly put any stress and anxiety at bay.
Works deeper into the muscles than a normal massage
If your muscles feel achy, a hot stone massage can penetrate deeper into them to help release tension and tightness.
Facilitates faster muscle recovery and reduces soreness
Using stones to warm the muscles more deeply at the beginning of a massage (for example, on the back) can help to avoid that feeling of soreness and discomfort, pain or tenderness that can often be felt following a deep massage on cold muscle.
How do Hot Stone Massages Work?
So what is so different about this method of massage? “Basalt stones (formed from volcanic rock that has ended up on riverbeds and has been smoothed over time by the river flow) are typically used as they can retain heat for a sustained time,” Antonia explains. “The heat from the stones causes an increase in blood flow to the muscles being worked on, which brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, thereby facilitating improved function, recovery and healing,” she continues. The heat can also improve lymphatic flow, aiding the removal of toxins from the body, and can also be soothing and relaxing, helping to calm and de-stress the nervous system.
Are There any Side Effects of a Hot Stone Massage?
The only side effects you should experience from a hot stone massage are a slight increase in the core body temperature and deep relaxation! However, as with any massage, you may experience subtle muscle tenderness afterwards.
Do Hot Stone Massages Hurt?
No – unless you are frail/bony and/or the therapist applies pressure with a stone directly over the bone (which they shouldn’t).
Ultimately, honesty is the best policy, so before commencing any massage treatment, make clear what you’d like to achieve, the pressure level you can tolerate, and if you prefer to be clothed. That way, the service will be bespoke to you.