Why the Hot Stones?

Courtesy photo  Hot stone therapy has been around for thousands of years.

Why the Hot Stones?


The history, science behind hot stone massage therapy

The use of stones and gemstones for healing purposes dates back thousands of years. Both verbal and written history confirm the Chinese used heated stones more than 2,000 years ago as a means of improving the function of internal organs. Stones were also used for healing work in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Egypt and India.

Hot stone massage is the perfect way to soothe, relax and de-stress on the massage table. It is a form of massage therapy that follows the same principles of Swedish massage, except using heated stones. Adding heat to various areas on the body enhances the feelings of deep relaxation and peace. 

A hot stone massage is 50, or better yet, 80 minutes long. Basalt lava stones are water-heated to approximately 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. After applying oil and warming your body with Swedish massage strokes, the therapist uses stones to massage your muscles. The stones will warm your body and loosen your muscles to allow for a release of tension and stress without the need for excessive pressure.

The hot stones have a sedative effect to relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation. Falling asleep or entering a meditative state of mind is a common side effect of receiving this kind of healing session. The penetrating warmth and the relaxation created by the massage sets the stage for the body to enter into a restorative mode, helping to relieve chronic aches and pains that never seem to go away.

Many will benefit through elevated mood and strengthened circulation that comes from the heat creating greater blood flow. This circulatory activity promotes the release of toxins from the muscles, assisting the body in self-healing. Poor circulation can lead to fatigue, which tenses the muscles, and a buildup of fluid and lactic acid in the muscles. Increased circulation delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping ease aches and pains. Pain is banished and a feeling of peacefulness and spiritual well-being take hold, re-energizing and rejuvenating the body, mind and spirit. 

Like most massage, hot stone massage is proven to be safe and effective in treating multiple conditions, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other chronic musculoskeletal conditions, pain and tension resulting from strained muscles, muscle spasms and chronic stress, while increasing joint flexibility. 

Hot stone massage should not be given to anyone who should not receive massage such as someone with a fever, has had recent surgery or has acute injuries. It is not appropriate if you have type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, are on any medication that thins your blood, if you have varicose veins, or immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor. Pregnant clients should not receive a hot stone massage.  People with rheumatoid arthritis, edema or other cardiovascular conditions should avoid this treatment as well because the heat may trigger a flare-up. But if not contraindicated, a hot stone treatment can be very beneficial.


James Glassford is a massage therapist with Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa using hot stone therapy. He studied at the McKinnon Body Therapy Center in Oakland and is a CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist.