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Hot stone massage is the best gift for your loved ones
Some people may turn to a hot stone massage as a way of relaxing after a stressful or tense time.
A massage therapist uses different techniques to relax the long, skeletal muscles of the body. There are many movements that the therapist can use, such as long strokes, circular motions, tapping, and kneading.
In this article we look at a type of massage called a hot stone massage. We see how hot stone massage therapy is carried out, and what the possible benefits and risks are.
What is hot stone massage therapy?
Both verbal and written history confirm the Chinese used heated stones more than 2,000 years ago as a means of improving the function of internal organs. Stones were also used for healing work in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Egypt and India.
During a hot stone massage, the techniques of a regular massage are applied. However, the therapist also works with hot stones that are placed on specific parts of the body.
The stones are smooth and flat and usually made of the volcanic rock type called basalt. These particular stones are chosen because they retain heat.
The stones used for a hot stone massage are placed in hot water to warm up before being applied. They are then placed onto specific areas of the body, such as:
- the back
- the stomach
- the face
- the hands
- the feet
Some massage therapists hold the stones in their hands and use them to massage with. This allows the therapist to get deeper into the muscles without more pressure, helping their client to relax yet further.
Occasionally, cold stones can be used on the face or after the hot stones have been applied. Cold temperature helps to calm swollen blood vessels and soothe hot skin.
This type of hot stone therapeutic treatment is thought to have originated in China almost 2,000 years ago. Since then, the technique of using stones for healing has been used in many different cultures, including the Americas, Africa, Egypt, and India.
A Source Of Healing
The healing practices of curanderas (literal translation: “healers” in Spanish) and other female caregivers often included dealing with disease as well as pregnancy and childbirth. These folk healers used heated stones to diminish the discomfort of menstruation, plus the application of cold stones to slow bleeding after labor.
Some sources also cite instances of cultures in which women believed that simply holding stones during labor added to their strength and endurance.
Ancient Greek and Roman cultures have a long recorded history of many forms of massage and bodywork. The Roman Empire, which dates from 27 B.C. to 476 A.D., is noted for its creation of the Roman baths.
This ancient tradition is still with us today in the form of modern hydrotherapy practices. The Romans also used stones in saunas and combined the effects of hot immersion baths with the cooling effects of marble stone and cold pools.
In addition to deep relaxation, there are many benefits to having a hot stone massage. They include:
All massages generally fall under the alternative medicine umbrella. They’re becoming a popular complementary therapy for many conditions. Here are some advantages of getting a hot stone massage:
1. Helps relieve muscle tension and pain
Heat has long been used to ease muscle tension and pain. It helps increase blood flow to the affected area. It may also reduce muscle spasms and increase flexibility and range of motion. Cold therapy helps relieve inflammation. Depending on your symptoms, alternating hot and cold stones during your massage may be helpful.
2. Reduces stress and anxiety
It’s the position of the American Massage Therapy Association that “massage therapy can be effective for stress relief.” Research supports their opinion. A 2001 study showed that a ten-minute massage improved cardiovascular responses such as stroke volume. A 1997 studyfound that 15-minute, onsite chair massages in the workplace significantly reduced stress compared to a 15-minute break without massage.
A 2015 study found that people who underwent abdominal colorectal surgery had less pain, tension, and anxiety after receiving post-operative massage.
3. Promotes sleep
A 2006 literature review found massage may be an alternative to sleeping pills in adults with insomnia. The research showed that back massage helped promote relaxation and sleep. A 2001 study showed that infants with sleep problems who were given a 15-minute massage by their parents went to sleep faster. They were also more alert, active, and positive upon awakening. Massage is thought to help you enjoy more restorative sleep, although it’s not completely understood why.
4. May help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases
Hot stone massage may relieve painful conditions such as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread, chronic pain. According to a 2002 study, people with fibromyalgia who received a 30-minute massage slept longer, had fewer trigger points, and had decreased levels of substance P (a substance involved in transmitting pain signals) than people with the condition who received relaxation therapy. More research is needed, however, before massage becomes a standard fibromyalgia treatment.
A 2013 study found that people with rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from a moderate-pressure massage, such as hot stone massage. Participants in the study experienced less pain, greater grip strength, and a greater range of motion after one month of massage therapy.
5. May help decrease cancer symptoms
A large, three-year study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management examined how massage affected pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety, nausea, and depression in 1,290 people with cancer. The study showed massage, especially Swedish massage, improved cancer symptoms, even in those with substantial symptoms. Researchers believe the comforting use of human touch played a role.
6. May boost immunity
Massage may give your immune system a boost. According to a 2010 study, a single session of Swedish massage therapy had a positive and acute impact on immunity. Blood samples taken before and after the massage showed a decrease in arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and water retention.
The bottom line
Studies show that a hot stone massage may be a helpful way to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and ease pain and muscle tension. It may be helpful for a variety of conditions and circumstances.
More study is needed to find out exactly why massage therapy has such a powerful impact. It may have a lot to do with human touch. For many people, touch offers a sense of connection and security.
To make sure you have a positive hot stone massage experience, only use a massage therapist trained to work with hot stones. You may feel sore during your massage or the day after. This may be due to deep tissue manipulation and pressure. You shouldn’t feel pain. If you are uncomfortable or experience pain during your massage, let your massage therapist know right away.
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