I will admit that the first time I was introduced to Hot Stone Massage I was very sceptical. In my mind it was just something done at spas and by beauticians and it had no therapeutic benefits whatsoever! Coming from a background of sports and remedial massage it was challenging for me to take hot stone massage seriously.
Well, I am happy to admit that 10-years of giving hot stone massage later, that I was wrong. It is fair to say that stones can be used simply for a gentle pampering massage and that the effects are generally relaxing and softening but when used therapeutically with specialist deep tissue techniques, I came to realise what a powerful tool they proved to be.
We all know how a hot water bottle or a good long soak in the bath can help us relax and unwind at the end of a long day or to help ease stiff sore muscles. Therapeutically, we are used to the application of heat to soften and loosen muscle fibres allowing them greater stretch so why not apply this principle to hot stone massage?
I have been using hot stones in my practice now for well over 10-years and in that time I have really come to understand the benefits of using them therapeutically. Not only do they help to gently melt away knots and tension but they also warm up (quite literally) muscles very quickly allowing me to work deeply and against less resistance than without.
My patients have given me great feedback, saying they feel a greater reduction in pain and tension and less residual soreness after their treatment than they may otherwise feel.
Of course, there are times when heat is not a good idea in cases such as acute inflammation for example. In this case, stones can be applied cold to help reduce swelling and pain. Granted it isn’t as pleasant a treatment as the heat but the ice cold stone really does help to reduce discomfort very quickly.
I was lucky in that I completed a 6-day post graduate training in hot and cold stones which was spread over 2-months and included remedial massage application of stones. Most courses in the UK are just 1-day in duration and are very basic indeed. As an experienced therapist myself, I can see why people may argue that they have been massaging for years and do not need to do longer than a 7-hour course but in this case I would disagree. There is a lot to learn about the use of stones including safety when working with heat and cold and proper handling and massage techniques. I would therefore recommend anybody thinking of having a stone treatment to check with their therapist first to gauge the duration of their training and experience.
If you have never tried a stone massage before, give it a go. You may be pleasantly surprised at how well you can feel and how much of a difference the heat can make!
I am an Acupuncturist, Professional Massage Therapist and Therapeutic Yoga Teacher with more than 15-years Experience. Based in Brighton and Hove, appointments are available 5-days a week Tuesday-Saturday. For more information please visit my website.