Hot Stones are one of the newer forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Yet, you can argue it is actually the revival of a very old traditional form of treatment. Women from around the world have advocated in the past the use of hot stone on the abdomen to decrease the pains of PMS. Early civilizations saw the wisdom of using heated stones to warm beds and feet. They were the equivalent of a hot water bottle.
Experiments and experience recognized some stones or rocks retained heat for longer than other stones. Volcanic rock became the favored stone. It held heat longer. Heated up, it kept many a worker or hunter warm at night.
The Japanese also found hot stones to be useful. Fasting priests placed hot stones in their obi. This decreased their hunger by slowing down the digestive process. The Swedes utilized hot stones in saunas. They usually followed the sweating or purification with a cold plunge in the snow or shower. The Romans altered hot and cold pools. This was a form of hydrotherapy. The principles are the same as those operating for hot stone massage therapy.
The modern form or revitalization of hot stone massage therapy began in 1993 with the work of a woman therapist from Tuscon, Arizona. Mary Nelson introduced her technique “LaStone Therapy.” This caught on, creating many other forms of the same process. You can discover more about LaStone Therapy online. You can also sign up for a LaStone Therapy Workshop.
Although the LaStone method is the “original” many different forms are now available for public use. They all, however, follow the same format. They all use hot stones as a medium for massage therapy. They also all provide the similar benefits.
The basic method of massage is simple and straightforward. The practitioner applies heated rocks to specific parts of the body. First he or she places rocks on the back of the body. Next, they are laid on the back of the legs. Placement on the front of the legs follows. Lastly, the masseuse puts the heated rocks on the arms. Some forms of hot stone therapy also require the placement of stones on the eyes and between the toes. Other variations place the stones beneath or alongside the body. It depends upon the intent and the type of hot stone massage. Influencing factors include age, and states of beings. Pregnant women, those recovering from surgery where nerves have been cut and specific skin conditions are contra indicative to this form of therapeutic massage.
In a version following Asian Massage Therapy, the stones are placed along the body’s pressure points, channel or energy lines or in tune with the chakras. The practitioner lays them along these key points to facilitate healing, remove stress and stimulate movement of the Chi/Qi or Ki. The masseuse may also use her hands to massage the client. In many instances, the practitioner manipulates the stones as tools. The movements correspond to those found in Swedish Massage Therapy.
There are some benefits from hot stone massage therapy. The stones induce a meditative effect. The heat relaxes tight muscles and reaches down deep to increase flexibility in the connective tissues. It can also help increase the circulation of blood.
Hot stone massage therapy requires specific types of stone. Basalt stone, a volcanic type of rock, is the preferred medium. They are always flat. This makes it easier to handle and place. Some practitioners also use marine stones. The sizes vary as does the color and the amount of heat required. An electric source of heat or steam ensures the right temperature of the stones. Afterwards they are covered with a towel to ensure they retain heat.
Sometimes, therapists alternate between hot and cold stones. Cold stones are prepared in the freezer. Care is taken to ensure the right temperature is maintained. Some massage practitioners use white lava stones for Cold Stone Massage Therapy and black basalt stones for Hot Stone Therapy.
Cold Stone Massage Therapy is applicable in the case of muscle injury or inflammation. Cold stones also have a decongestion effect. The alteration from hot to cold can be efficacious in balancing the circulation locally. It can also promote healing.
If you decide to opt for hot stone massage therapy, be sure to check up on the qualifications and training of your masseuse. Too little knowledge can result in the employment of incorrect amounts of pressure. Unskilled practitioners may also not know the correct use of stones as massage tools. Phone ahead or check with friends from the credentials and qualifications. No matter what the level, always be sure to speak up if the treatment is too hot or too cold.
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