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Using hot stones for the deep work

Have you have seen those images depicting hot stone treatments, where the stones are placed on the bare skin of the client? And have you ever wondered how on earth you can tolerate several hot stones being placed on you while you supposedly relax? Or how useful a treatment using boiling hot stones can really be, if the stones are just placed directly on your skin?
Let me clarify. It's more than it looks like in those pictures. In its true and traditional format, a hot stone therapy is a full body treatment usually lasting 1.5 hours, that combines the use of hot stones, cold stones, chakra stones and deep massage in a wonderfully relaxing , ritualised holistic therapy. The hot stones have many uses, beyond resting the stones on your back and sending you off to sleep for an hour or so.

The benefits of a hot stone massage are:

Muscle relaxation: The heat relaxes the muscles so any tension and soreness can be released more easily.
Reduced pain: The heat from the stones enables a deeper massage, providing a greater benefit from the massage for tense and stiff muscles.

Improved circulation: The heat opens up blood vessels, which in turn improves circulation, releases fluids and lactic acid from muscles, enables more oxygen to get to tissues, and eases stiffness and pain.

Hot stone massage is a lovely treat and has a host of benefits for everyone. It can be especially beneficial if you have:

  • Muscle pain
  • Circulation problems
  • Rheumatism or arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Back pain
  • Depression
  • Stress
A question I often get asked is "Will it hurt?". A lot of people think the stones will hurt or burn. Of course they don't! The stones are never left neatly stacked and freshly boiled upon bare skin. The heat from the stones is transferred by touching the stones and then touching the client. The freshly retrieved stones are dipped in cold water for a split second if necessary, and placed on the couch around you. The therapist will advise you of where they are in order to avoid contact whilst the stones are still at their hottest. Once the stones reach a temperature that is tolerable for the therapist to handle, the stones can then start to be used as a massage tool and applied directly to the skin. They can also be placed strategically on specific muscles and areas of the body, and are usually placed on top of towels or within stone bags so as not to burn the skin. Left in one place, the heat can really get to work whilst the therapist starts work elsewhere.

The stones themselves are basalt stones, a volcanic rock that retains heat and can be left in their natural shape or can be smoothed and polished into neat shapes. They are heated in a stone kettle heater that resembles a slow cooker, and so there is a little more intricacy in the work than a straight forward deep tissue or sports massage.

Remember though, that this is your treatment. If you have a sensitive disposition and feel the stones are too hot, it's important to tell the therapist. This is not the time to start testing your boundaries or be too nervous to admit it's too much for you as it will completely defeat the object of the treatment. Also bear in mind that the therapist will have built up a tolerance to heat from regular use of the stones. Communication as always in a treatment is fundamental to your experience in the treatment room so don't be shy!

As many of you may know by now, my specialist area is with deep tissue work. I combine that with a holistic background and foundation to my work. The day I trained with the stones I immediately identified a new context within which I could use these bad boys to enhance my existing treatments and introduce an incredibly effective way to relax tense muscles and induce psychological relaxation. The stones provide a deeper treatment and do a lot of the foundation work in less time than it takes for me to manually warm up your muscles and relax your mind and body.

Relaxing the mind as well as the body is fundamental to deep work because if we come to the couch holding tense and anxious thoughts, the body won't relax. When the body does not relax it makes the treatment harder work and can prevent the therapist from treating the real problems of the soft tissues, instead spending longer having to simply relax the body before getting to the deep work.

So you can see, I love using the stones and the clients love the effects of the stones. Please do not be misled by unrealistic images that I am even guilty of using myself. The stones have a purpose within a very legitimate context and are far from the pretentious projection of many clichéimages!

If you would like to book a stone treatment, please email me at massage@tigertherapy.co.uk . If you have any further questions, I am happy to help.





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