The origins of stone massage can be traced back to Native Americans who used hot stones to relieve aches and pains. It is now a popular form of massage therapy that has many benefits including deep relaxation. Using a sheet or terry cloth barrier, massage therapists place smooth, heated stones along the spine and on specific areas of your body to warm up tight muscles. They may also hold the stone while using Swedish massage techniques like circular motions, long strokes, and kneading to work the muscles. Though the list is much longer, here are 5 benefits of a hot stone massage:
1. Reduces Stress
Massage therapy is well known for its therapeutic benefits. Our mental and physical wellbeing are closely intertwined and we often suffer physically when under a lot of stress, including back and neck pain. Using hot stones promotes deep relaxation which is beneficial for those dealing with anxiety. Some massage therapists will place the stones along energy lines and acupuncture points to soothe, heal, and revitalize one’s energy. The best massage will ground and center you while dissolving tension and stress.
2. Stimulates Blood Flow and Circulation
Unhealthy muscle tissue is tight and tough, which means the blood vessels are restricted. Applying heat to these muscles increases the blood flow to them, which in turn delivers more oxygen to the muscle. This transfer of nutrients is essential for healthy muscle tissue. Hot stone massage is an excellent way to increase blood flow to damaged muscle and begin the healing process. Contrast therapy is a particularly good massage technique for improving circulation. With this form of stone massage, hot and cold stones are used alternatively to expand and constrict blood vessels, which stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage. Cold stones can also be used at the end of the massage to soothe the skin.
3. Relieves Tension and Pain
We often use heating pads and patches in our everyday life to ease pain and sore muscles. Hot stone massage uses the same basic principle. Applying heat to these muscles allows the massage therapist to work quickly and deeply to relieve tension and pain. Alternating hot and cold stones can also help with pain by relieving inflammation. It may be the best massage for you if you’re looking to reduce muscle tension, spasms, and nerve compression. If you’re suffering from more serious conditions like spinal stenosis or a herniated disc, you may need to seek orthopedic surgery to relieve your back pain. Some specialists, like the ones at New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C.—a facility that specializes in neck, back, and spine care in Toms River, NJ—offer a multidisciplinary approach that provides various modalities of treatment. With an emphasis on education, compassion, and individualized care, these specialists will help you find the best treatment plan for you.
4. Improves Sleep
We don’t sleep as well when we are stressed out and tense. It only makes sense that massage, which helps us de-stress, can also help us sleep better. In fact, research shows that a back massage promotes better sleep and may be used as an alternative to sleeping pills to combat insomnia. Another study found that infants with sleep problems fell asleep quicker when given a 15-minute massage from their parents. They were also more alert and positive upon waking. Because hot stone therapy is deeply relaxing and soothing, it may the best massage style for enjoying more restorative sleep.
5. Helps with Chronic Illness Symptoms
Massage therapy can be especially beneficial for those suffering from chronic illnesses. Conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis cause chronic pain and inhibit people from participating in certain activities. Not only can massage be an effective tool for pain management, but it can improve flexibility and mobility as well. A study found that massage therapy techniques like hot stone massage can help people with arthritis. Participants experienced greater grip strength and range of motion in addition to joint pain relief.
Talk to your massage therapist to find out if hot stone therapy is the best massage technique for you. Some spas allow you to create custom massage packages that include the use of stones. Whether you are looking to relieve pain or de-stress, by the end of the massage you are sure to be feeling better.