Commonly believed to be only a luxury spa treatment, hot stone massage has many therapeutic benefits as well. The use of hot stones to promote healing and relaxation dates back thousands of years, from Chinese medicine to the Roman baths. The most well known benefit of hot stone massage is relaxation. Heated stones are set or rubbed on the body, inducing relaxation of the muscles as the heat soaks deep into the muscle tissue.
As a massage therapist in a physical therapy office, I see many more uses for hot stone therapy than just relaxation. A patient who has been in a motor vehicle accident may have severe pain in their neck and back, and they may not tolerate the necessary pressure to release their muscle tension. The heat from the stones will penetrate the muscle tissue, and soothe the nerves, allowing for more effective pain and tension relief for the patient. After the acute stage of an injury has passed, targeted heat from the stones will increase circulation to an injury site, delivering oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissue while it heals. Hot stone massage may also be used to help release Trigger Points in muscles, improving circulation and helping to relieve chronic pain. The therapist can adjust the pressure with the stones to range from light relaxation to deep tissue, while working within the patient’s tolerance range. The stones vary from about the size of a quarter, to six inches in diameter. The largest stones are usually placed on the body with a sheet or moist towel as a barrier. Several minutes of targeted heat helps release tension from large muscle groups such as the muscles along the spine, the gluteal muscles, and the hamstrings. The smaller stones are held in the therapist’s hands and rubbed directly on the skin. Long, smooth strokes are used to achieve relaxation, and direct, sustained pressure is used for deep tissue work.
There are some conditions when hot stone massage, or massage in general, should not be used. Be sure to tell your therapist about any illnesses, injuries or medications you are taking. Hot stone therapy is available at the Loveland Rebound Sports & Physical Therapy office. Hot stones may be used to supplement a 60 minute therapeutic massage session at the therapist’s discretion, or a 90 minute full body hot stone massage session may be requested by a client. Call 970-663-6142 for more information.