For most types of massage, the therapist simply needs his own hands as tools, but there is one type of massage that is become very popular lately which uses stones and that is called the hot stone massage. While this type of massage is actually been practiced for centuries, it is only become popular in the modern spas over the past couple of years.
This technique uses heated stones which are placed strategically on different parts of the body. Traditionally, a black volcanic rock called basalt is used because these rocks have the ability to retain heat for a long time and they also conduct heat very well, making them perfect because they don’t need to be reheated often and are also a great conduit to transfer heat to the client.
In a modern spa, you will find that these stones are sanitized before being used. Once they are heated, the therapist tests them (usually simply by touch) to make sure they are the right temperature which is usually between 120 and 150°F. When placed on the body, these stones have a relaxing effect on your muscles.
The hot stone massage can be used with a variety of techniques, but Swedish massage is the most common. This technique uses smooth long strokes that complement the relaxing effect of the stones. Typically, the stones are applied either along the spine or the muscles beside it as well as a lower back, latissimus dorsi muscle in the middle back and the trapezius muscle in the upper back.
If you want a hot stone massage, be prepared to pay a premium because they cost a little bit more due to the added preparation necessary for the stones as well as the popularity of the technique. Some say that the stones have magical powers when placed on certain points, but others think it’s probably just the heat coming from the stone that produces such a wonderful relaxing effect.
There are a couple of variations to the hot stone massage technique. Some therapists will put the hot stones in their hand so that they can add pressure while applying heat. Another technique alternates the hot stones with cool marble stone which also creates a pleasant relaxing effect.