If you want to try a new way of relaxing, a hot stone massage might interest you. It’s a type of massage therapy done by placing hot stones in different regions of the body. The stones used are volcanic rocks; basalt, in particular, is the popular option. The heat they release gets deep into the skin and the muscles, providing relaxation and relief from tension.
Hot stone massages are beneficial for conditions like muscle pain, arthritis and stress. Improved blood circulation and digestion are the other benefits of a hot stone massage.
Keep reading and know more about the benefits of hot stone massage.
Difference Between a Hot Massage and a Regular One
A hot stone massage uses heated stones to relax the body and requires the client to lie on a massage table. The therapist then places the hot stones on the body—usually on the shoulders, the back and the neck—and works the muscle through a traditional massage technique, such as Swedish massage. This type of massage is perfect if you are looking for deep relaxation and relief from tension.
On the other hand, a regular massage uses the hands to massage the body. Regular massage suits people looking for muscle tension, knot and pain relief.
Both types of massage have many benefits, but what’s better for you depends on your needs. If you’re considering a hot stone massage, speak first with a therapist to see if the massage is suitable for you. You should not have it if you have medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Why De-stress with a Hot Stone Massage
A hot stone massage is relaxing, especially after a week of work. Aside from relaxation, here are the other benefits of a hot stone massage.
Relaxes the Body Through Heat
One of the major benefits of hot stones is the heat, which penetrates deeply into the body, relaxing the muscles and the veins. The therapist then applies light pressure during massage.
Relieves Pain and Tension
Studies have proven that a hot stone massage can reduce stress and anxiety. Specifically, it triggers the production of feel-good hormones like endorphins and reduces stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine.
Promotes Restful Sleep
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, a massage can ease insomnia and promote good sleep, especially in menopausal women. If you have trouble sleeping, you can have a stone massage at home to enjoy restorative sleep.
Fortifies the Immune System
A hot stone massage often comes with a Swedish massage for better relaxation, and studies have shown that a single session of Swedish massage can have significant health impacts. For example, it can help manage autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. A hot stone massage with Swedish massage also increases lymphocytes, which help the body fight infection.
Manages Chronic Pain
A hot stone massage lowers substance P levels, responsible for transmitting pain signals. Some conditions that can be less painful with the aid of a hot stone massage are fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Manages Cancer Symptoms
A hot stone massage can help cancer patients alleviate their symptoms. Combined with Swedish massage, a hot stone massage can reduce nausea, depression, pain and fatigue.
Releases Body Toxins
Physical therapists believe a hot stone massage can release toxins to the skin's surface through sweating. Just drink plenty of water after your massage to help flush out these toxins.
A hot stone massage can also greatly improve blood flow and circulation. Aside from relaxation, you can achieve a wonderful radiant glow.
A hot stone massage is a traditional medical practice that started thousands of years ago in India and China. They placed hot stones on key areas of the body (called meridians), believing it released stagnant energy.
Is a Hot Stone Massage Safe for Pregnant Women?
If you are pregnant, you can enjoy a hot stone massage to an extent because it can relieve some of the common discomforts that come with pregnancy, like swelling and back pain. But first, ask your therapist if they have a pregnancy massage table. This table has a supportive cutout that keeps your tummy safe from pressure.
A massage requiring essential oils and other herbal extracts may not be safe for pregnant women. These may promote preterm labour and affect neurological functions. The warm stones, along with arm and leg palpation, should be enough.
Before, During and After Hot Stone Massage
If you want to fully enjoy the benefits of a hot stone massage, you have to be careful with your activities before, during and after your session.
Before a Hot Stone Massage
- Arrive at your appointment well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water prior to your hot stone massage.
- As much as possible, don't drink caffeine and alcoholic beverages a few hours before your appointment.
- Do not eat a heavy meal before your massage. Consume something light and nutritious instead.
During Your Hot Stone Massage
- Be sure to communicate with your therapist. Let them know if the stones are too hot or if you feel discomfort in any way.
- Relax and breathe deeply; this will help you get the most out of your massage.
After Your Hot Stone Massage
- Drink lots of water to flush out the toxins.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine for a day.
- Do not engage in heavy activities for the rest of the day. Instead, take it easy and enjoy some relaxation time.
Pro Tip: Watch the Heat
As mentioned earlier, a hot stone massage mainly uses basalt stones, volcanic rocks that can retain heat. Limestones, marine stones and sandstone are common alternatives because of their mineral properties. The therapist then heats up the stones in a heater set between 110 and 130°F.
You have to be open in communicating with your therapist. If you feel the stones are very hot, prompt your therapist immediately to avoid burns and other injuries.
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