Benefits of Hot Stone Massage Therapy

Rachel Young, RMT

Hot stone massage therapy uses heat therapy, both as a static application and while performing effleurage, to ease muscle tension and stiffness, and increase circulation and metabolism. Hot stone massage therapy promotes deeper muscle relaxation by placing smooth, water-heated volcanic basalt stones, which have the ability to retain heat for an extended amount of time, at key points on the body. Heat therapy applied to these areas helps to keep the parasympathetic nervous system, that is, the nervous system that promotes the release of hormones which relax the body, stimulated. During effleurage, the direct heat of the stones relaxes muscles more quickly than if the heat was not applied, which allows the massage therapist to gain access to the deeper muscle layers more efficiently. The steady heat from the hot stones expands blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body. This sedative effect can relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation. Heat therapy is especially helpful at this time of year, when the body is subjected to the cold that keeps muscles contracted, restricting circulation, causing the nervous system to be in a sympathetic state, meaning the promotion of stress-related hormones to be released, even more than what normal-life stresses and disease already cause in the body. Combining hot stone protocols with a full body massage provides a very healing experience.

In brief, hot stones massage therapy:

● Provides relief from pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other chronic conditions which can also be exacerbated by the cold weather

● Decreases pain and muscle spasms

● Reduces chronic stress and tension

● Increases flexibility in joints, aiding in easier mobility and movement

● Relieves pain and tension created by strained and contracted muscles

● Provides a more efficient deep tissue massage

● Increases the parasympathetic effect of massage, making it more ‘relaxing’