Hot Stone Massage Explained

Perhaps you’ve heard the term, Hot Stone Massage, but don’t really know what it is, how it helps, or if it’s right for you. So let’s break it down and get to understand this awesome healing modality a little better!

What are the Benefits of Hot Stone Massage?

  • Deeply relaxing Stress relief!

  • Decreased muscle tension with a gentler approach

  • Decreased pain related to muscle spasms and stiff joints

  • Thoroughly warming session for when you are feeling “chilled to the bone” in the cold months

  • Increased feeling of grounding, energetic balancing and connection to the earth

  • Good session for people who don’t like a lot of hands-on touch because you feel the stones more than the therapists hands

  • An effective treatment modality, but feels like a pampering, nurturing session.

So What is a Hot Stone Massage?

Smooth basalt stones are heated in a proper stone heater to a hot, but not scalding, temperature.

For a full body hot stone massage session, the client is undressed and appropriately draped; oil is used on the skin to provide glide for the stones. Some stones are placed on areas of tension or energy centers (along your spine, abdomen or hands) to provide deep warmth to the tissue, like a heating pad. A towel or blanket is placed between the skin and stones when they are stationary to prevent burns. Photos of hot stone massage show otherwise, but the stones should never be left directly on skin unless they are already cooled down to a safe (not hot) temperature. The massage therapist will also use stones to massage you by moving them quickly over your skin while they are hot. The initial sensation is similar to getting into a hot tub, but should feel immediately comfortable and tolerable. If the stones feel too hot after a few seconds, let your therapist know right away. Everyone has a different tolerance for heat!

Hot Stones can also be used as part of a regular massage session. A few stones may be used to warm up your back, or larger leg muscles that are particularly tight. The deep penetrating heat from the stones helps muscles to relax and receive deeper massage.

If you prefer to stay fully clothed but like the idea of some heat treatment, hot stones can be placed on energy or tension centers and gently provide heat through your clothing.

Who Should NOT Get Hot Stone Massage?

This modality isn’t for everyone and comes with some general contraindications, including but not limited to:

  • Pregnancy

  • Chronic condition affecting the immune system (ie, HIV?AIDS, Lupus, Cancer…)

  • Dysfunction in the nerves or nervous system or any condition with a loss of sensation in the body

  • Any acute & inflamed skin conditions

Be sure to tell your therapist about any health concerns you have so they can know if the session is safe and appropriate for you.

Also, I’ve had several clients want to try it and discover they really don’t like it because they don’t like much heat. If you tend to run hot, or feel sensitive to temperatures in general, the heat of the stones will likely feel overwhelming and not relaxing for you.

Why Does it Usually Cost more than other Bodywork Sessions?

Hot Stone Massage incurs extra expenses for the business: more laundry, more products, and more time needed around the session. It takes the stones about 45 minutes to come to full temperature, so the therapist has to arrive early if a hot stone session is the first of the day. It also takes about 30 minutes extra to clean the stones -the stones and heater are individually washed and sanitized after every use- so the higher fee covers the additional time and supplies needed.

Hot Stone Massage is a wonderful treatment for anyone who loves heat therapy but please see a massage therapist who is properly trained. While many modalities can be self-taught, hot stone massage requires supervised hands-on learning to be done safely and effectively. (Unfortunately, there are therapists who practice without specific training.) This will ensure the most effective, safe and enjoyable session!