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The secret’s right there in the name: heated stones. At Magnolia Poconos Wellness, hot stone massage therapists use seashells or river stones that remain hot throughout most of each session.
Although possibly connected to ancient Mayan practices, hot stone massage techniques are most strongly related to India. Here, records dating back 5,000 years mention hot stones as part of the Ayurvedic healing tradition.
Based on the breath of life called prana, aspects of this ancient belief system are still used by modern massage therapists. Many of today’s therapeutic tools – flowers, herbs, salts, crystals and stones – are based on these age-old techniques.
Before each treatment, the stones are heated to around 110°F to 120°F – warm enough to penetrate tight muscles, but not hot enough to burn delicate skin. A special heating unit is used to ensure an even spread of warmth,, rather than a regular oven or a microwave that could result in patchy temperatures.
In general, the heated stones are placed carefully on specific parts of the body, particularly hotspots (sometimes known as the seven chakras) that are believed to ensure smoother and more balanced energy flows. Many of the selected hubs are similar to acupuncture nodes.
Using movements similar to classic Swedish massage, therapists work on knotted muscles and painful joints with hot stones, instead of fingers and fists. Always sensitive to personal pain thresholds and tolerance levels, sensitive clients should never hesitate to ask for lower temperatures or a lighter touch.
Although varying widely from person to person, many of the benefits of hot stone massage are common to most everyone. Here are some of the main advantages of this heat-healing treatment:
- Boosting immunity is a proven effect of Swedish massage, with its effects extended even deeper through hot stones sending powerful streams of warmth deep into the body;
- Chronic pain reduction may be achieved by many kinds of massage, with hot stones being particularly effective at penetrating deeper into problem areas;
- Comforting and relaxing, hot stone massage sends heat deep into the muscles, with emotional effects similar to a warm embrace;
- Drawing out toxins is one of the major benefits of a hot stone massage, pulling undesirable wastes up from deeper tissues to the skin, and then eliminating them in sweat flowing through heat-opened pores;
- Deep heat penetration carries regular massage benefits to deeper layers of the body, but without the sometimes painful pressures needed for deep tissue massages;
- Relieving pain through easing tension, because heat is a traditional remedy for tight, sore muscles, stepping up the blood flow throughout the constricted region, easing cramps and allowing stiff joints to be gently flexed as they regain mobility;
- Restful and restorative sleep, as a hot stone massage just before bedtime helps ease insomnia, particularly among postmenopausal women;
- Relieving cancer symptoms like pain, fatigue, nausea, and depression is a known benefit of Swedish massage that is enhanced by hot stones;
- Self-healing effects are often noted after hot stone massages, perhaps due to better-balanced energy flows and more positive mindsets;
- Soothing anxiety and stress through stimulating the release of endorphins and other feel-good hormones, while lowering stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine.
Takeaway: A hot stone massage loosens muscles and joints, opens pores, and draws toxins up to the skin from deep tissue levels, extending the benefits of a regular massage.
WHAT TO EXPECT
How Often to Use Hot Stone Massage
Weekly use is recommended