Do you want to take the benefits of your massage to the next level? Consider trying a hot stone massage. At Jon Ric International Health and Wellness in Edmond, OK, we offer this popular massage variation because using hot stones can increase your body’s relaxation. Read on to understand what type of stones are used for hot stone massage and its benefits.
What Is a Hot Stone Massage?
Massage is the practice of bringing relaxation to the body by applying soothing strokes and gentle pressure. Its benefits include stress reduction, increased health and even improvements in chronic conditions. Not only has massage been practiced for thousands of years, but its positive impact has been demonstrated in countless scientific studies.
There are many variations of massage, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and sports massage. What sets hot stone massage apart is the hot stones that are applied to the body. The use of heat is extremely therapeutic. It increases circulation, enhances relaxation, and allows the body to release tension.
Everything You Need to Know About Hot Stone Massage
What Type of Stones Are Used for Hot Stone Massage?
Usually, basalt stones are used in this kind of massage. They are river stones made from volcanic rock.
Why Are Basalt Stones Used?
The reason basalt stones are favored is that they retain heat extremely well. Your masseuse will not have to heat them repeatedly during your session. Long-lasting heat means uninterrupted bliss for you!
What Are the Stones Shaped Like?
The basalt stones used in massage are usually round, smooth and flat. The shape of the stones can vary according to the philosophy of the masseuse. Some professionals use stones in a variety of shapes to create precise sensations in the body. Others prefer stones that have a natural shape.
Does the Color of the Stones Matter?
When rubbed with oil, basalt stones turn a rich, black color. This gives them a nice appearance; however, the color does not actually affect their ability to retain heat. As long as the stones have plenty of silica and iron, they will retain heat and be effective for your massage.
How Hot Are the Stones?
You can expect the stones in your massage to be heated to 135 to 145 degrees. This makes them feel nice and toasty! Some professionals use stones of different temperatures on different parts of the body. For example, a higher temperature is generally preferred for the feet. The temperature of the stones can also be customized according to your skin type and how much heat you enjoy.
Where on the Body Are the Stones Applied?
During this type of massage, the stones are usually applied to your:
- Legs and other extremities
- Feet and toes
Of course, your masseuse can focus on areas that you would like to have massaged and places where your body needs some extra care.
Are Cold Stones Ever Used?
Yes! Sometimes (but not always), cold stones are used for short intervals during this kind of massage. The advantage to using cold stones is that they can reduce inflammation, improve circulation, address swelling and help drain fluid build-up in the body. Think of the stones like the cold compresses used for sports injuries. Marble is a kind of stone that stays cold for long periods of time, and it is popular in cold stone massage.
What Kind of Strokes Are Best to Use in This Type of Massage?
This type of massage utilizes many of the same techniques as Swedish massage. Swedish massage is the most common form of massage and is the one that usually comes to mind when a person hears the word massage. It involves highly evolved techniques that masseuses have developed over generations to soothe and care for the body. These techniques include:
This word means “gliding” in French. True to its name, this kind of stroke is long, smooth, and relaxing.
Another French word, “petrissage” translates to “kneading”. In massage, petrissage refers to the gently rolling of skin and soft tissue between the fingers. It serves to increase circulation and target areas of tension.
Sometimes, your masseuse will apply smooth, circular motions. This is referred to as “friction” and is another way to get your blood flowing.
Tapotement is performed with short, light taps that apply direct pressure to specific areas of the body.
The Proven Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
Like Swedish massage, one of the biggest benefits of hot stone massage is deep relaxation. Both the various strokes applied and the use of a therapeutic thermal element deliver stress-reducing benefits. In turn, enjoying a relaxing massage can improve your health physically and psychologically. It is more than just a treat, although we can’t complain about the experience!
Boosts Immune System Function
Getting a massage helps your body detoxify, thereby increasing its ability to fend off viruses and other infections. When we are stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, a hormone that induces a “fight or flight” response in the face of a perceived threat. While this response is helpful in the wild, chronically high levels of cortisol have numerous negative effects on our bodies, including compromising our immune system. By lowering stress levels, a good massage can give our bodies a break from cortisol.
Helps the Body Absorb Oils
The heat from hot stones can help open your pores. If therapeutic oils are part of your massage, your body will absorb them better following the application of hot stones.
Increases Range of Motion and Flexibility
Along with increased circulation and reduced stress, one of the biggest benefits of massage is that it can improve your range of motion and flexibility. For this reason, massage can help people heal from sports injuries and even prevent them in the first place. A body that is more flexible is less likely to become injured.
The hot stones are especially beneficial for people who want their massage to result in greater flexibility. Thermal techniques have long been used for stretching. For example, hot yoga has been shown to help people achieve a deeper stretch, and thermal compresses are often used when treating areas of the body that have experienced trauma.
Improves Mood and Increases Productivity
Massage can be an important part of your self-care routine. After enjoying a massage, most people find themselves in a state of greater emotional balance and positivity. Feeling positive can help you tackle all the difficult things you need to do for your work, your family, and other areas of your life. Taking care of yourself is the first thing you can do to take care of others.
What Studies Support the Healing Benefits of Massage?
Numerous studies have shown that massage is effective against a wide variety of illnesses and chronic conditions. Here is a list of some of the conditions that massage can help treat:
- Sleep disorders
- High blood pressure
- Back pain
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that results in a feeling of chronic, widespread pain throughout the body. According to a 2002 study, a 30-minute massage benefited people with fibromyalgia by decreasing their levels of substance P, which is partly responsible for giving them the sensation of pain. It also helped them sleep and reduced their trigger points.
A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that massage helped in reducing symptoms of cancer patients. Massage can also help patients tolerate cancer treatments. Referring to breast cancer patients specifically, the American Massage Therapy Association states, “post surgery, women who apply specialized lymph drainage techniques from a well-trained massage therapist to their treatment may experience less pain and swelling.”
In 2013, a study that looked at hot stone massage specifically found that after one session, patients with arthritis enjoyed greater grip strength, enhanced range of motion, and less pain.
While experts don’t know exactly why massage promotes good sleep, several studies have supported this view. In 2001, a study found that infants who received a 15-minute massage from their parents went to sleep faster and woke up feeling more rested. Massage has been an alternative to sleeping pills in adults.
High Blood Pressure
One in three American adults suffer from high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. A 2002 study conducted by researchers in the Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine in Liverpool, United Kingdom reported that massage decreases blood pressure, heart rate and muscular tension. Similarly, a 2000 study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found that after receiving a 30-minute massage, patients with high blood pressure showed both a reduction in their blood pressure levels and their cortisol levels.
According to a 2003 study, people who experienced back pain reported a 36% decrease in their need for pain killers following massage. The same study found that massage outperformed both acupuncture and spinal modification in people who suffer from back pain.
As discussed above, cortisol is the hormone that our bodies produce when we are stress. A massive review of more than 12 studies found that massage can lower cortisol levels by 50%. It also boosts endorphins, the hormones that elevate our mood and induce feelings of happiness.
How Can You Get the Most Out of Your Massage?
To experience all the benefits of massage fully, try not to eat immediately before your appointment. Your body will be able to relax better if it is not actively digesting food. We recommend drinking lots of water both before and after your massage. Herbal tea is also great for hydrating the body.
It is best to refrain from using your cell phone during your appointment. You don’t want to have your relaxation time interrupted. Finally, you will probably want to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to check in so you can start your appointment on time and enjoy your full session.
Hot Stone Massage: Experience the Bliss and the Benefits
Hot stone massage can provide a positive way to care for your body that, in turn, leaves you feeling energized and relaxed. The use of hot stones serves to add a thermal component to the therapy. With both heat and a set of sophisticated techniques for applying gentle pressure, your masseuse can decrease your cortisol levels, increase your circulation, help your body eliminate toxins and improve your range of motion.
Not only is getting a massage an enjoyable experience, but it also promotes good health and good self-care in a way that is safe and has been practiced for thousands of years. Contact Jon Ric International Health and Wellness in Edmond, OK to schedule a massage or request more information. We are happy to tell you more about this service and explain how it can provide your body with the care it deserves.