Hot stone massage is a special type of massage given through smooth and heated stones. This type of massage is very relaxing and helps in warming up tightened muscles. Heated stones can be used by the therapist as an extension of hands or can be placed on the body.
Requirements for hot stone massage, other than massage stones, are massage table, towels, table linens, heating unit for warming up the stones and different types of massaging oils. Some therapists also use some special types of utensils for removing stones from the heating unit. Heating stones are normally kept in storage bags. Normally, roasting pans are used for heating the massage stones.
Therapists offering massage at the home of clients use insulated containers for keeping heated massage stones. Massage stones are never heated in microwave.
Massage stones used are of many sizes and shapes. One of commonest massage stones are basalt stones. These are also called as volcanic stones or river rocks. Other types of massage stones that are normally used by therapists are gemstones and tenshi.
Numbers of massage stones used depend upon the area to be massaged. For example, in case of full body massage, 48 to 56 massage stones are required. Fewer massage stones can also be used for full body massage but these have to be re-heated frequently for application. As far as massaging oils are concerned, olive oil, rose oil and grape seed oil are the three commonest essential oils used. For promoting relaxation, lavender essential oil is generally used. These oils work as lubricants for providing massage.
Most of spa centers offer their own versions of hot stone massage. These massages essentially include hot massage stones. Before getting hot stone massage from any center, it must be ensured that therapist is skilled and experienced. He must be aware of heat sensitive areas of body so that right types of nerves can be targeted.
Hot stones are not so easy to handle and if massage is provided by an inexperienced therapist, these might fall regularly during the treatment. Before getting massage, it must also be ensured that stones have been sanitized properly. For sanitizing, stones are heated in water for half an hour. Temperature of water may vary from 120 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Normally, therapists warm up the body of clients by giving them a Swedish or another such massage. If a massage stone gets cooled, it must be replaced by hot one. Cost of hot stone massage may vary from $125 to $200. People suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart diseases are advised not to go for hot stone massage.
How To Give Hot Stone Massage
Massage preparation is an important and integral part of hot stone massage process. Hot stone massage process normally takes up to two hours. First of all, it must be ensured that massage stones are cleaned. After cleaning, massage stones are heated in a roasting pan. Time period required for heating stones may vary from fifteen to fifty minutes, depending upon the type of roasting pan used. Massage table is then prepared by putting fresh linens. For making massage more soothing, light music is generally played.
For providing more comfort to clients, some therapists also use sheepskin warming pads. Eight medium sized massage stones are placed on the massage table. Massage stones are generally lined up in pairs. Distance between each stone is one to two inches. Client is than asked to lie down on the table with face up. It must be ensured that his or her spine is not touching the stones. Usually, massage stones are placed on each side of spine and thus, client should be draped accordingly.
A light coating of essential oil is then massaged over the face of client. Four massage stones are then placed on both the cheeks, forehead and below the lips.
Once massage with face is over, legs are the next target. Only one leg should be uncovered at a time. Essential oil is then put on leg and massaged gently. Selection of stones for leg massage should be done very carefully so that they are easily held on client’s leg.
Large stones are generally avoided in leg massage. Size of stone also depends upon the size of leg. After oil massage is over, small stones are placed between each toe and leg is then draped. Care should be taken that massage stones are not slipped out due to application of oil. Same steps are then repeated on other leg.
For giving arms massage, one arm of client is undraped. It is then coated with essential oil through effleurage strokes.
For arm hot stone massage, medium sized stones are generally used. After massaging of arm is over, a warm massage stone is placed on the palm of client. Arm is then covered with clothes. Same steps are then repeated with other arm.
In next step of hot stone massage, massage stones placed over the face, between the toes and on the palm are removed and client is asked to turn over and lie on table with face towards the floor.
Back part is then uncovered and coated with essential oil through effleurage stroke. Back is considered as one of best parts for placing massage stones, as it has many acupressure points. After thorough massaging, heated massage stones are placed on each shoulder, on scapular area and on lower back. Back is then covered with clothes. Afterwards, a medium sized heated massage stones are placed in hands of client.
One leg of client is again uncovered and a medium sized massaged stone is placed on the back of leg underneath the buttocks. Massage stones are also placed on back of knee and on the calf. Leg is then covered and same steps are repeated on other leg. In the next step, scalp of client is massaged gently with essential oil. Shoulders and neck areas are also massaged for relaxing nerves.
Afterwards, back of client is uncovered and massage stones are removed. Back is covered with cloth again. Similarly, legs of client are uncovered one by one and massage stones are removed. Legs are covered with clothes again. Massage stones placed in hands are also removed. As a finishing touch to hot stone massage, effleurage strokes are given on the back and legs of client with tips of fingers.