Massage therapy is perhaps the oldest form of hands-on healing known to humankind. It is instinctual, when a baby cries the parent moves to hold it. If you hit your shine you naturally rub it.
The origin of massage has been obscured by time, but the earliest written document appears somewhere around 2,700 BCE. The incorporation of heat and stone was first recorded in China. They used Bian stone and Moxadustion (burning of the herb mugwort) to create heat, this is what we now know as Acupuncture. China, Hawaii and Native American cultures have all highly influenced modern hot stone massage however civilizations throughout time have used touch, heat and stones to heal. The modern hot stone movement has been gaining in popularity around the world since the 1990’s when it was ‘re-discovered ‘ in the United States.
Many different types of stones are used, though the most common is basalt. High in iron content basalt is ideal for hot stone massage due to its ability to retain heat. These healing stones come to us from deep inside the earth and are born from lava. From a metaphysical point of view basalt assists with stability and patience while offering wellbeing and peace. Along with the use of basalt many therapist incorporate crystals and gemstones to enhance spiritual healing.
In modern hot stone massage, therapist and stone work in tandem to relax aching muscles and ground the spirit. Heated stones are placed on chakras (spinning energy centers in the subtle energy body), meridians (energy pathways) and/or sore muscles depending on the desired outcome. For safety, the therapist usually places a towel or sheet between stationary hot stones and the skin. Warmed oiled stones are massaged into the body delivering penetrating heat directly to tense, overused muscles. The heat released from the stones permeates deep into the tissue making each stroke more effective. With the relaxation processes started the therapist has greater ease in addressing the deeper muscles.
Many of the benefits that come with massage therapy can also be expected with hot stone massage. It can help elevate headaches, back pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia as well as boost the immune system. Plus long standing soft tissue injures may resolve as well. Some conditions such as frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injures and fibromyalgia benefit greatly when heated stones are introduced to their treatments.
Hot stone massage is a wonderful treatment but it is not for everybody. Because of dilation of the blood vessels that occur during hot stone massage individuals with acute illness, inflammation, fever, rashes, thrombosis, uncontrolled high blood pressure or large varicose veins should find a more suitable form of therapy. Special care should be taken with the geriatric population as well with diabetics due to decreased sensation in there extremities. Expectant mothers should avoid the excess heat and opt for a prenatal massage instead.
In this high pace, technology driven world, often we are weighted down with stress, stimulated with caffeine and rushed out the door to an overwhelming day. It is no wonder that many of us feel disconnected to our own body. Hot stone massage can be profoundly relaxing allowing the mind to become still. A number of people report falling in to a deep restorative sleep some even experience a trance like state. With the use of the hot stones and the skilled touch of a knowledgeable massage therapist this treatment can induce a profoundly grounding effect. Hot stone massage can truly help reconnect the body with the soul.
Keely Qualey has more than 14 years of experience as a holistic massage. She has been trained in hot stone massage, Polarity Therapy, Reiki, massage for depression and anxiety. Currently she practices at 268 State St. Bangor, Maine. You can find her online at emanatinglights.massagetherapy.com, contact her at 207-944-2260, firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook at Keely Qualey LMT.