As you may know, massages are extremely popular, and for good reason.
I’m probably going to get one as soon as I’m done writing this.
But it might come as a surprise that massage therapy is the largest sector of complementary medicine in Australia! More and more people are turning to massage therapy in addition to their standard medical treatment.
Studies show that massages are effective in relieving muscle pain and tension. And while many people are aware of the physical benefits of massages, you might not know that massages have also been proven to help relieve stress and boost energy, mood, and morale!
By helping increase circulation and boosting the production and release of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, massage serves as a multi-purposed health and wellness therapy.
While all forms of massage can be beneficial, one type in particular has an added benefit that helps it reign supreme in the world of massage therapy.
Which massage could be more relaxing than a Swedish massage with deeper muscle penetration than the classic deep tissue massage?
That would be none other than the feel-so-good hot stone massage!
What is Hot Stone Massage?
Hot stone massage is a type of muscle therapy that aims to increase circulation by expanding blood vessels. In doing so, it helps melt away tension and ease muscle stiffness.
So, how is it different from other massages?
Well… Hot stones! The inclusion of those smooth, flat, heated rocks really does make all the difference.
Massage therapists take river rocks or smoothed volcanic rocks, called basalt stones, and heat them with water. Then, they place the stones at key points on the body such as:
- The spine
- Feet and toes
They use the stones to massage heat into problem areas, stress points, and other reflex points on patients. Massage therapists often include oils and other elements of traditional full body massage methods for maximum effect and to give customers the best of all massage practices.
Heat Makes All the Difference
The inclusion of heated stones allows massage therapists to achieve deeper muscle relaxation. The heat permeates deep into muscle tissues and fibres, creating an even deeper massage than that of a deep tissue massage.
Massage therapists commonly heat basalt stones between 55 to 63 degrees, and once heated, basalt stones retain their warmth for hours.
As the therapist massages heated stones into key parts of one’s body, the customer also experiences the sedative effects of heat therapy.
Studies show that the brain equates warmth with safety, contact, and intimacy. It’s a reassuring, neurologic effect that helps further relax and heal massage recipients.
And heat therapy doesn’t only decrease your stress and provide a deeper massage – it also helps alleviate pain that is spread through trigger points and relieve delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.
You know DOMS? It’s the pain you get two to three days after you decide to get back into the gym or start a new workout routine. It’s enough to make someone quit working-out (and walking, sitting, anything else that requires muscle movement or contact) entirely.
But with the help of hot stones and heat therapy, you can overcome that pain.
Hot Stone Massage Provides the Ultimate Customisation
You now know that basalt stones can retain heat for hours, but did you know that the inverse is also true? When basalt stones are cooled, they remain cool for hours.
Because of the versatility of the massage stones, massage therapists can also incorporate cold temperatures into a hot stone massage. This allows them to customise the massage even further and help people who may be suffering from inflammation, headaches, and muscle strains.
Simply put, hot stone massages feel so good because they take the circulation enhancing motions of standard massages and couple them with the magic of heat therapy. They also allow for added customisation and address the pains and stresses of a diverse client base.
Ancient civilisations appreciated the benefits of heat therapy combined with hot stone techniques and, in this case at least, we would all be best served to learn from our elders.
But Are Hot Stone Massages Right for Me?
If you are an otherwise healthy person who is plagued by:
- Muscle tension
- Muscle pain
- Stress related ailments, like
Then hot stone massages will likely be beneficial. Whenever you start a new massage regime, it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor and address any concerns you may have. And after you get the, “ok – go,” do make this therapeutic gem a part of your wellness routine!