Using Hot Stones – What to Expect

You’ve seen it before, an image advertising a hot stone massage. The stones are pictured in a straight line or strategically placed upon the body. If you are not familiar with hot stones, this image gives you a false impression of what to expect for the first time. The principle of using heat within a massage provides many benefits, but the truth is that if hot stones were placed on the body and left to sit, it could result in first or second-degree burns. In addition, many of these images show the stones appearing completely dry. A hot stone massage involves using a good amount of oil which is necessary for gliding. So why choose to add hot stones on to your massage and what SHOULD you expect?

Hot stones are a wonderful add-on service. It is a very relaxing experience, similar to a long soak in a bubble bath. Falling asleep or entering a deep meditative state of mind is a common response to receiving this type of therapy. The warmth from heat therapy also offers many enhanced benefits, including melting away tension, easing muscle tightness and increasing overall circulation. Hot stones can be added to a full body massage or used on specific areas to increase effectiveness and allow the therapist to access deeper muscle layers. The use of applied heat as a healing therapy dates back to many ancient cultures including the Native Americans.

In preparing for a hot stone massage, smooth basalt stones are heated to 120-135 degrees inside of a warmer. Before using the hot stones, your therapist will apply a light layer of oil to your skin and to the stones. The stones become a massage tool that is used in place of hands. Though the heated stones will make contact with your body, they will be moving at all times. This is to prevent burns that could result from leaving the stones placed on the skin. If hot stones are ever placed upon the body, a hot, moistened towel should be placed between the skin and the hot stone(s) to prevent burns. In this way, the stones safely act as a second set of hands, applying heat and pressure to one area while the therapist is working on another. Following a massage, stones are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Hot stone massages do have some contraindications. It is not recommended for children, pregnant women, elderly, clients with chronic (untreated) high blood pressure, areas of varicose veins, open wounds or skin infections, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, clients with cancer, lymphedema, cardiac issues, pacemakers, liver or kidney disorders, organ transplants, chronic muscle fatigue, acute fever, clients taking blood thinners, or any client that dislikes or has a negative reaction to heat, including those experiencing menopausal hot flashes. If you have any of the above listed conditions, please consult with a physician prior to receiving a massage. Always share with your massage therapist any condition that could impact the safety of your session.

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